Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Credit Due

Early last July, Stacia Novy, a young military career woman, biologist, and falconer, e-mailed me an excited message that she had just been instrumental in finding the nest of a very little known Neotropical raptor, the Solitary Eagle (Buteogallus solitarius), in Belize. She attached this picture.



Unfortunately, since then, most published accounts have omitted her role, though if you do any Internet searching you will find, to quote, that she was the one who "... modified and applied traditional bird-tracking techniques... to follow the breeding/prey-carrying male eagle to the nest. This was a deciding factor, as the wild eagle was NOT radio-tagged and could not be followed any other way." She was more experienced with raptors than many of her colleagues.

Somewhere between discovery and official reporting, a competing group apparently took over the publicity; appropriation of data is regrettably common, but allegedly some of those now claiming credit were not even in the country. A short account of the discovery is available here-- scroll down-- in three parts, with her role mentioned. And apparently the North American Falconers Association will publish something next season. But it would be nice to get some "official" scientific recognition for her too.


Stacia with Aplomado-- no beginner in game hawking!

23 comments:

Matt Mullenix said...

Stacia is absolutely the real thing. Her writing and her zest for life remind me much of our friend Teddy Moritz. Complimentary both ways.

Anonymous said...

I heard the story from ALL members of the discovery team even from Stacia. To me it seems like EVERYONE was instrumental in finding the nest, but no one can take more credit than the others. All team members had knowledge about the eagle and they all knew that the food was being taken to a nest. The reason why Stacia deliberately decides to even acknowledge the existence of the Belize Raptor Research Institute who initiated the nest search even in years prior to 2011, just puts question marks behind Stacia Novy.

Running with Wolf said...

All the people involved with the solitary eagle tracking and nest discovery on the 30th of June, 2011, were paid employees of The Peregrine Fund. This information can easily be proven by email traffic, photographs, and written documentation among private, academic and governmental sources. Stacia published an account of the nest discovery in the Journal of the North American Falconers' Association, 2012, Volume 51, and credited all The Peregrine Fund people by name. BRRI is just pissed off that The Peregrine Fund staff found the eagle's nest first. BRRI's executive director, Ryan Phillips, wasn't even in Belize when the nest was found. I have to question this organizations credibility when BRRI group published statements that birds of prey don't actively drink water. Anybody that works closely with raptors knows that they drink water. With that kind of faulty raptor knowledge, its no wonder that BRRI people couldn't find the eagle's nest in the many years they spent looking. As well, I personally feel that anyone that posts anonymous comments obviously does not have the backbone to stand behind them either.

Running with Wolf said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lawrence Godson said...

In my many years of dealing with Stacia Novy I have only known her to be scrupulously honest and accurate in her data and accounts of events.
Lawrence Godson
President, Save the Prairie Society

Kathy Stohrer said...

I have to agree with Running with Wolf. BRRI isn't a real research organization at all -- they're an ecotourism group. If you search the Internet you can find ads for BRRI raptor tours. They hire professional bird guides, and they promote the Solitary Eagle nest to paying customers. They actually offer to take customers to the nest territory! No real researcher would do that for money. The Eagles haven't raised young in the nest for two years now; BRRI probably scared them away. No research university is associated with BRRI, or supervises their work. How legitimate is an organization like that? They are constantly asking for money and donations. Sounds like just a typical nonprofit scheme to me. I cannot believe the general public hasn't figured it out yet! And another point made by Running with Wolf: I, too, have heard people claim raptors don't drink water. What garbage! Of course they do; wild ones, not just falconry birds, have drunk water in my presence, and I have seen photographic proof as well. I have known Stacia for over ten years, and she doesn't tell lies.

E T Sage said...

I’ve known Stacia Novy for nearly 20 years and she introduced me to falconry. I had the opportunity to see how different falconers train, and study birds of prey. I witnessed how Stacia’s dedication, focus, keen insight into predatory behavior, and meticulous training techniques molded her into a master falconer, ornithologist and naturalist. I'm not surprised she found an eagle's nest that nobody could find in 50 years of trying. I’ve also noticed that she is a "by the book professional" with a high degree of integrity, and honesty. Her dedication to science and the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake is beyond reproach. Anyone that says otherwise either 1) does not know Stacia or 2) does not know the truth behind the eagle's nest finding.
Belize Raptor Research Institute wrote long ago that they could NOT find the nest. Stacia utilized her extensive knowledge of raptorial behavior, studied the topography of the area, and she successfully predicted where the nest would be located. Now unscrupulous people seek self-advancement at the expense of a truly dedicated and honorable researcher.
Since when does looking for something and failing to find it EQUAL ownership rights when that something is found by somebody else much later? Wow. I guess Stacia and her colleagues should give ownership rights of the Belize nest to EVERY bird of prey nut, birdwatcher, and tourist that has been looking for a solitary eagle or its nest in the last 50 years, whether they were present in the country or not! (And BRRI was not present). BRRI got the permits and took over the nest AFTER Stacia and her colleagues left the country....go figure. The real reason that data gets appropriated is because some people lack the expertise necessary to make great scientific discoveries on their own.
Does this matter? Yes. Stacia should have full unrestricted access to the nesting sight, all data collected so far, and be allowed to autonomously lead the study of this rare species that she found.
I’d even suggest publically thanking Stacia for her participation because people would still be aimlessly wandering the forest looking for the Eagle’s nest for the next 50 years if it weren’t for her contributions.
Eric the Sage

E T Sage said...

I’ve known Stacia Novy for nearly 20 years and she introduced me to falconry. I had the opportunity to see how different falconers train, and study birds of prey. I witnessed how Stacia’s dedication, focus, keen insight into predatory behavior, and meticulous training techniques molded her into a master falconer, ornithologist and naturalist. I'm not surprised she found an eagle's nest that nobody could find in 50 years of trying. I’ve also noticed that she is a "by the book professional" with a high degree of integrity, and honesty. Her dedication to science and the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake is beyond reproach. Anyone that says otherwise either 1) does not know Stacia or 2) does not know the truth behind the eagle's nest finding.
Belize Raptor Research Institute wrote long ago that they could NOT find the nest. Stacia utilized her extensive knowledge of raptorial behavior, studied the topography of the area, and she successfully predicted where the nest would be located. Now unscrupulous people seek self-advancement at the expense of a truly dedicated and honorable researcher.
Since when does looking for something and failing to find it EQUAL ownership rights when that something is found by somebody else much later? Wow. I guess Stacia and her colleagues should give ownership rights of the Belize nest to EVERY bird of prey nut, birdwatcher, and tourist that has been looking for a solitary eagle or its nest in the last 50 years, whether they were present in the country or not! (And BRRI was not present). BRRI got the permits and took over the nest AFTER Stacia and her colleagues left the country....go figure. The real reason that data gets appropriated is because some people lack the expertise necessary to make great scientific discoveries on their own.
Does this matter? Yes. Stacia should have full unrestricted access to the nesting sight, all data collected so far, and be allowed to autonomously lead the study of this rare species that she found.
I’d even suggest publically thanking Stacia for her participation because people would still be aimlessly wandering the forest looking for the Eagle’s nest for the next 50 years if it weren’t for her contributions.
Eric the Sage

Mary J. Cray said...

I read Stacia's NAFA Journal article and it thoroughly explains how the Solitary Eagle nest was found. There is no doubt that she and her Peregrine Fund coworkers located the nest in Belize. I've known Stacia for some time now and have been impressed with her accurate and exact descriptions of her work in the field. She has always given credit where credit is due. It's a shame that others do not do that.
Mary Cray

HawkMagelssen said...

Stacia Novy and I have been friends for many years. We are both Master Falconers and I have learned a lot by my association with her.

I read Stacia's article on the Solitary Eagle nest discovery. It was an incredible article! She used falconry techniques to find the nest. Most of the techniques she used are no longer used even by falconers due to the advent of telemetry.

Stacia used her many years of knowledge and research on falconry to assist her in the discovery. She also critically solved the flight patterns and breeding biology of the eagles. Nobody else in Belize had that precise combination of knowledge to track the eagles. That is why she was successful when many others weren't. If it was that easy, people would have discovered the nest decades ago. After all, the solitary eagles have been regularly seen there since the 1960s and lots of people have been photographing them and looking for them.

Kudos to Stacia! The team was lucky to have her assistance and she should receive all the credit and accolades she is due.

Congratulations on your discovery Stacia Novy!

Laura Hazelett, Owner
Hawks4Hire, LLC

Ham said...

Kathy S. and Wolf are right. I looked up BRRI on the internet and various websites. A lot of their claims are false. For instance they put telemetry tags on some rare stygian owls many years ago in Belize but have never published any peer-reviewed science article on their research. What does BRRI do instead, according to their own advertisements? Take paying tourists to see the rare owls. They use the tracking devices to find the owls in the forest and then disturb them in the daytime to show them off to customers. Real scientists would not do something like that. The research part of BRRI is a joke. And this is the 2nd time that I posted about BRRI; the first time I posted on their FB page and they immediately deleted it. They don't want the public to know about the solitary eagle's nest or the owls

marc adams md said...

I am attempting to promote scientific integrity and honesty, while inhibiting political expediency. During the normal scientific discovery process, one's research constitutes a "defense" of thesis, and because Ryan Phillips' (BRRI) claims of finding the solitary eagle's nest seem to be spin, an explanation is needed. A synonym for manipulation is "spin", the parlance of politicians and lawyers. BRRI is a "web institute" made up by a Californian, Ryan Phillips, as described under his own web bio. The basic problem is the fraud: There was NO "BRRI TEAM" at This Nest Discovery, Not Even in Prior Sightings Published Elsewhere. 

My Evidence, from published spin of two years ago: (1) "After seven years of searching (???) for the elusive Solitary Eagle nest in the Mountain Pine Ridge of Belize, the BRRI team, with assistance from Blancaneaux Lodge and The Peregrine Fund, located the only known nest in 52 years." (SOLITARIUS --The Belize Raptor Research Institute Newsletter: Summer 2011: issue 2, p6: no author listed). Keep in mind this is a self-promoted newsletter, published by the same individuals involved with the Solitary Eagle Scandal, and is NOT peer-reviewed and/or approved by professionals in academia. Thus the newsletter, SOLITARIUS, has no more value than a FB page.

The above (1) is almost the same fraudulent sentence reused, and a year later, so its error was repeated in another publication: SPIZAETUS: June 2012: Issue 13: p3-4, now the author is identified as: Ryan Phillips. This is creeping politicism.

Right after this quote, in the body of the announcement, the first sentence: (2) "In 2009, The Peregrine Fund's Orange-breasted Falcon Team first observed the eagles in the area, including a recently fledged juvenile, but the nest was NOT located. On 30 June of this year [2011], Roni Martinez of BRRI and Blancaneaux Lodge, with the greatly appreciated assistance of Camille Meyers, Matt Allshouse, Stacia Novy, Audrey Martin, and Jonathan Urbina of The Peregrine Fund, located the nest (nope, only three people hiked to the nest) with a single approximately two to three month old nestling. (SOLITARIUS --The Belize Raptor Research Institute Newsletter: summer 2011: issue 2, p6, no author listed.)

According to testimonies of people I interviewed, official documents I saw (both internal and external), and research conducted, there was absolutely NO "BRRI team" there, only Peregrine Fund people. Every person named in the above paragraph was a paid employee of the Peregrine Fund, including this Roni Martinez. Therefore the bottom line: To allude this was a BRRI discovery, and Stacia and the Peregrine Fund only provided "assistance", is organized mendacity.
Marc Adams, MD

marc adams said...

Stacia Novy has located rare raptors before, which have been documented, so it is No Coincidence that she finds a Solitary Eagle nest in 3 WEEKS and the fabricated "BRRI Team" CAN'T FIND ONE IN 7 YEARS, per their published admission, with many sightings of solitary eagles in that area for way over 40 years, and this Roni lives near the nest. It makes this Ronaldi "Roni" Martinez and this Ryan Phillips seem incompetent, besides dishonest.
I have also seen mistaken references that Ryan Phillips has a PhD going around the internet. Since he is associated with web information from an academic site, his posted CV shows that he only has a Bachelor's degree. His part-time job description at De Anza Community College in California shows that he is a "field trip instructor" (a chaperone maybe?) This is in great contrast to Phillips' own claims of being a "professional raptor researcher" and/or "raptor biologist". Obviously more political spin for personal gain. Professional researchers go to graduate school for many years and get the necessary training to become scientists; they don't go around the internet saying they are researchers just for ego and fundraising.
Stacia has email statements from Peregrine Fund officials stating that she and her coworkers have proprietary rights to the eagle nest discovery. One of the top Peregrine Fund VIPs also sent a handwritten supervisory report to McKendree University and Stacia's academic advisor in July 2011, right after the nest was found. This report stated, "Stacia was also instrumental in locating the nest of a solitary eagle, one of the rarest tropical raptors." This report can be produced as evidence, at any time, for anyone interested in learning the truth behind the solitary eagle nest discovery. And, more people really should do research on this nest discovery before blindly donating money to BRRI and supporting its organized propaganda.
Bottom-line: The only reason this Solitary Eagle nest was found, after many years of sightings, was because of an encamped Orange Breasted Falcon release team that included Stacia Novy, hack site attendants, and workers hired by the Peregrine Fund. BRRI, via Ryan Phillips, jumped on the claim of nest discovery afterwards in order to garner funding from the gullible public.
Dr. Adams Again

Roni Martinez said...

Wow, what a read. I researched on The Peregrine Fund's Solitary Eagle Project - there isn't. I searched for records in the Belize Forest Department for a Stacia Novy Solitary Eagle Project - there isn't. That explains a lot. The thirst for fame eh... The real research is being done now as we speak at that solitary eagle nest and another site. Where is Stacia Novy? Why did she not continue with "her" discovery and the real science that follows such a discovery?

Mason said...

The comments made by Mr. Roni Martinez only raise more questions as to the integrity of BRRI. The eagles nest is on private property owned by Programme for Belize. BRRI obtained permits and landowner permission without notifying the Peregrine Fund or nest discoverers, who left the country right after finding it. By the time the nest discovery team found out what happened, BRRI had exclusive control of the area. BRRI then hired people associated with the landowner to drive tourists to the nest to make money. This is also in their ads. It’s easy to manipulate nest access with these kinds of private, political and financial agreements. BRRI exploited the nest for money ever since it was found. The ad to “Adopt-a-Solitary-Eagle-Nest” for $500 on their website says it all. Internet searching shows BRRI has advertised the nest more than anyone so they are seeking all the fame and money.
There are many ways to do research on birds-of-prey: laboratory experiments, computer modeling, museum work, behavioral studies in and out of captivity. Bill Clark has done quality museum work on solitary eagles recently. Permits from the Belize forestry dept are not needed for studies like these. A person does not need to be camped out under the nest, harassing the solitary eagles, to learn something about them. If Roni Martinez was in academia he would know this.
Roni Martinez was a paid assistant (that is, employee) of the Peregrine Fund when the solitary eagle nest was located. His name is still posted on their website as of this writing. Instead of reporting the find to his Peregrine Fund employer, he gave the secret nest location to Ryan Phillips in California and BRRI. The question marks are clearly behind Roni Martinez. I would not believe or support anything he or BRRI claims.

Birder Bob said...

And for an extra $250 you can name the solitary eagle! I don’t believe in making a profit from wildlife but if I did I’d pay the money and name the eagle: “Sucker!” for all the people that foolishly gave money to BRRI. It is quite clear they are a capitalistic, for-personal-profit group and have nothing to do with science.
The SPIZAETUS article “Harpyhaliaetus Solitarius Nest Found in Belize”, Neotropical Raptor Network Newsletter, Issue 13, June 2012, written by Ryan Phillips is the most sub-standard work I’ve ever read. As a previous teacher, I know grade school students that can write better “research papers”. Here are just a few of the many errors I noticed in the article: #1)The word “extinct” was used instead of “extirpation”, #2)The statement “this proves that they are specialized reptilian feeders” when any professional researcher knows that NOTHING is proven in science--a hypothesis or theory can be supported with experimentation, data and observations--but NEVER proven. (Ryan Phillips statement is especially contradictory since the remains of game birds have been found in other solitary eagle nests and refute his findings), #3)Several Latin names of snake species are incorrect, and #4) the Latin name of the solitary eagle is even incorrect! It is quite clear that the author is NOT a scientist and did little to NO research on his topic before publishing. The SPIZAETUS article would never have been accepted for publication in any peer review journal that I know of which is the standard for professional researchers. That being said, SPIZAETUS is not a peer review journal and has no weight in the scientific community. The general public should not consider this article, the author or BRRI as an authority on solitary eagles either.
Birder Bob

Craig said...

Ive got a lot of friends in the raptor & central american birding realm. Here is what they told me that the Belize raptor research institute and roni martinez aren’t telling people:

Ryan Phillips was banned from going to the black solitary eagle nest through Bull Run Overseas private property. The nest is near Bull Run property and Bull Run works closely with the Peregrinefund.

Roni Martinez was getting a salary from the Peregrinefund and this was stopped after his shady involvement with the black solitary eagle nest. So he was essentially FIRED by his employer. Interesting, huh? I'm sure that would not have happened without good reason. Think about it.
Notice that BRRI isn’t mentioning that on their website!

Roni Martinez said...

Lets keep this rolling then,its fun. Roni Martinez has been a full time employee at the nearby Blancaneaux Lodge as their Conservation Officer. The work I do for BRRI is volunteer and the work I do for Peregrine Fund is as consultant I have done it for the past 5 years and still do it, every.single.season. Peregrine Fund has an Orange-breasted Falcon project, not Solitary Eagle Project. I am still associated with the Peregrine Fund and Blancaneaux Lodge and BRRI and Bull Run Overseas. I interact DAILY almost with all these organizations. The land where the nest is, is open to anyone with a basic research permit (which you do need!), you just need to apply. The nest is not near accessible by vehicle and the nearest point you can drive to is still miles away from the nest. We do take interested persons in that general area as it is just as good to see solitary eagles as well as many other raptors. We have been taking guests there from years before the nest was discovered and will take guests many years after this discovery. Stacia I do respect you despite all the avalanche of defamation you tried on us. I forgive you. We can go birding anytime you are back in Belize miss lady...

Michael said...

this blog cracks me up. first Roni writes mean things about Ms Novy, now he sends a love letter via the internet asking her for a date to go bird watching! ha ha ha.

Hay Stacia write something back so we can read your side of the story!

I heard about Ms Novy's AOU conference talk and published articles on the solitary eagles. I guess she is an outlaw scientist now because she doesn't have a belize permit. ha ha ha.

I heard the same thing as Mason that Roni stopped getting a monthly stipend from the Peregrine Fund. And Ryan Phillips was never a paid worker for them either. Ryan was a just a volunteer. ANybody can be a consult for free so that means nothing. the exaggerrations of Roni and Ryan and BRRI are legendary.

Roni Martinez said...

I heard, I heard, I heard - No wonder you never learn because you just keep hearing instead of doing actual research. I can come up with "I heard" stories too. I heard Stacia wanted to work again as a hack site attendant for Peregrine Fund and she was denied the opportunity because she was so problematic during her last stretch. I heard she applied for a permit in another country with Solitary Eagles and she was denied the permit too! I heard she wrote many of the posts here and sent it to friends so they could post it here, that way she could not be tracked as being involved directly with this back and forth. I heard, I heard, I heard. Show me facts people!

Mike said...

Forgot to add that Roni never even saw the solitary eagles with the team until the very last day when the nest was found by stacia and matthew and audrey.Roni was hired staff for the peregrine fund then and was asked for his help crossing the nesting area. BRRI website claims roni led the team but this is false. Stacia and peregrine fund led the mission.

I heard from the nest team that Roni almost passed out hiking to the nest and that Ms Novy had to give him medical care in the field! Ha ha ha. If you look at his picture on the website you can see why. Some leader he was.

Roni played no part what so ever in tracking the eagles before finding the nest so more exaggerations by BRRI. And roni has written a lot of defamatory things about Ms. Novy all over Facebook and the internet. Go look everyone because I did. I haven’t seen anything written by Stacia Novy that was negative. Ms Novy isn't even on this blog.

Ms Novy does NOT need permission from BRRI to publish anything about the eagles. She was a discoverer and was there so she has every right to write about what she knows.

Roni Martinez said...

Mike, Michael - Please find me ONE just one, at least one instance where I have been mean or defamatory to Stacia. Just one. Stacia in her insatiable quest for fame and recognition caused unprecedented grief for a lot of busy and productive people. The article was published in a small specialized falconry but classy publication as opposed to a scientific journal and why it was published is a mystery as it has nothing to do with falconry. Stacia has been smart so far by not personally writing but having others write for her. If anyone has read Stacia's NAFA article, it staes: "All sightings were reported to Roni" Why? Because he represented BRRI who was already gathering data on Solitary Eagles in collaboration with the past PFund crew (Seminario, Muela, and Curti) from which there was a joint publication on the JRR about these observations. The article further states "Roni was a local guide who was familiar with the geography of the area". She then further admits "Roni scanned the suspected slope and just happened to see solitary eagle swoop in carrying a snake" Even I admit that, to be honest, it was pure luck/chance that I saw the eagle carrying the snake into the nest. This was when everyone else, including Stacia, were looking at a different location. So Did her Falconry technique really help her to find the nest? She has said it herself that I (Roni Martinez) was the one to see the eagle going down to the nest with a snake. All her falconry techniques helped her to what? Now, remember that she herself stated that "Roni was a local guide who was familiar with the geography of the area"? All of a sudden she now claims: "The author (stacia) was able to LEAD Matt an Roni to the nest" In my opinion there are too many contradictions in her own article. Also - I am still waiting for her to publish a "peer reviewed" paper. It will be ground breaking I assume. there is sooooooo much we can learn from museum specimens. I mean their entire Biology/Ecology can be unraveled from those immobile specimens. Lets start reading Stacia...

Steve Bodio said...

I think this has gone on long enough in this forum. It is clear Stacia found the nest. I have other things to do in life that spend time checking this post, and the blog's purpose is not to be a debating forum.