University of Calgary

Spreading his wings

UToday HomeJanuary 18, 2013

A barn owl (tyto alba) inside its cage at the Costa Rican Raptor Foundation headquarters; this owl is ready to be released back into the wild. Photo credit: Luis Cruz-MartinezA barn owl (tyto alba) inside its cage at the Costa Rican Raptor Foundation headquarters; this owl is ready to be released back into the wild. Photo credit: Luis Cruz-MartinezLuis Cruz-Martinez, a veterinary medicine PhD candidate in ecosystem and public health, spent October in Costa Rica teaching avian medicine and working with a group dedicated to the conservation of birds of prey, a trip funded by a travel grant from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.

Cruz-Martinez taught a course on avian medicine and surgery to veterinary students and gave a seminar about medicine of wild birds to a group of local veterinarians (who braved flooding from hurricane Sandy to attend). He also consulted with the Costa Rica Raptor Foundation — a non-governmental organization dedicated to the conservation of birds of prey and a group he hopes to work with in the future.

While working with the foundation, Cruz-Martinez was able to see the “hidden marvel” of raptor migration. The foundation and the indigenous community of Kekold manage the Kekoldi Hawkwatch station — the second best place in the world to observe the phenomenon of 17 species of raptors converging. “In the course of an hour, we counted an estimated 11,000 raptors from the Kekoldi Hawkwatch observatory station,” Cruz-Martinez says.

Luis Cruz-Martinez conducting a health check-up on one of the foundation’s captive spectacle owls (Pulsatrix perspicilata). Photo credit: Pablo CamachoLuis Cruz-Martinez conducting a health check-up on one of the foundation’s captive spectacle owls (Pulsatrix perspicilata). Photo credit: Pablo CamachoHe also managed to make the news. “A TV news channel did a story about the raptor migration during my visit and I was interviewed as an expert in the field of veterinary medicine of wild birds.”

The experience gave Cruz-Martinez “a whole new set of fresh ideas to pursue” after he finishes his graduate studies, including possible collaborative One Health research projects in Costa Rica.

“The indigenous community of Kekoldi is part of the Bri Bri Natives, one of the four remaining indigenous native groups in Costa Rica,” he says. “The local communities face a number of health, economic and social challenges. For example, poor access to health care, discrimination and lack of social resources.”

 

 

 

Cruz-Martinez says One Health research would benefit the communities and potentially provide a constant source of collaborative projects with investigators from around the world. He says his trip was a valuable experience.(from left to right): course organizer Mario Baldi, PhD candidate Luis Cruz-Martinez, and NGO founders Pablo Camacho and Pablo Porras discuss the prognosis of an injured mottled owl (Ciccaba virgata). The owl was found on personal property, and brought in(From left to right): Course organizer Mario Baldi, PhD candidate Luis Cruz-Martinez, and NGO founders Pablo Camacho and Pablo Porras discuss the prognosis of an injured mottled owl (Ciccaba virgata). The owl was found on personal property, and brought into the foundation's headquarters to be examined at the veterinary school. Photo credit: Luis Cruz-Martinez