A Passion for Peregrines: A Tribute to Oscar Beingolea (1959-2019) and a New Grant in His Honor
By Fernando Angulo and Nico Arcilla
Oscar's last peregrine banding expedition.
Raptors studies in Peru are on the rise, and much of our knowledge of raptors in Peru is due to one extraordinary man, Oscar Beingolea. A lifelong resident of Lima, Peru, Oscar devoted his life to raptors, especially Peregrine Falcons, both as a professional falconer and through his avid studies of wild raptors in Peru and elsewhere in the Americas. He discovered the first evidence of cassini (Austral) peregrines breeding in Lima and developed expertise on species including the Orange-breasted Falcon, Tiny Hawk, Bicolored Hawk, Grey-bellied Hawk, and Harris’s Hawk. His decades of study have informed numerous publications on raptor behavior, natural history, breeding biology, and migration, in scientific journals as well as falconry magazines and books.
Perhaps Oscar’s greatest gift to Peruvian ornithology and the world was his promotion of research interest in raptors in Peru, spreading his captivation with raptors far and wide through mentoring raptor enthusiasts and researchers of all ages. I (Fernando) was a student of 12 in 1986 when I first met Oscar, who made an immediate impression. I was thrilled by his stories about raptors, especially Peregrine Falcons: how fast they are, how far they travel. Oscar was trapping and banding peregrines, and I begged him to take me on one of his trapping expeditions; the following January, Oscar took me to Chilca, south of Lima, to band a wintering male tundrius (Arctic) peregrine. Oscar also introduced Peru’s incredible wealth of raptor species to visitors such as me (Nico), who first came to Peru in 2003 to do fieldwork for my PhD. Oscar treated me like family from the start, but I never could have guessed how much our friendship would transform my life or ignite my own passion for peregrines.
Our admiration for raptors, especially peregrines, has only grown since meeting Oscar, just as our friendships with him blossomed over many years. Discussions about migration routes and timing, differential migration, subspecies distribution, and many other subjects engaged us for countless hours. Oscar raised so many questions about raptor biology that it will take decades to answer them. He was, by far, the greatest authority on peregrines in Peru. Oscar passed away on August 30, 2019, after a long battle with cancer. We, along with his family and many friends in Peru and around the world, miss him enormously.
[In celebration of Oscar’s life and love of raptors, we have partnered with RRF to create an award in his honor. Starting this year, the Oscar Beingolea Raptor Research Award will provide a $1000 grant to a researcher continuing Oscar’s legacy of original inquiry, dedication to research, and enduring fascination with questions about raptor ecology and evolution in Latin America and the Caribbean. If you would like to learn more or apply for this award through RRF, please go to: [link]. If you would like to make a donation to support this award through the International Bird Conservation Partnership (IBCP), which is collecting donations to provide to RRF for this award, please click on the link below.
All three photos kindly provided by Marco Chavez.