Many people concerned with the conservation of wild birds focus their efforts on the tropics. The plight of tropical parrots has, with good reason, long monopolized the attentions of conservationists and concerned citizens alike, and birds of all kinds reach their greatest diversity south of the equator. I suppose the fact that ornithologists often prefer to do their research in warm places doesn’t hurt either! However, a recent report has revealed that shocking numbers of protected songbirds, storks, eagles, vultures and other birds are being trapped, shot, poisoned and otherwise killed in at least 38 European countries. Read More »
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I’ve been writing quite a bit about the trade in wild-caught African Gray Parrots in recent weeks. In stark contrast to most countries inhabited by parrots, several African nations still allow the capture and sale of wild birds. In others, lax enforcement renders existing laws useless. There has, however, been a recent spate of confiscations in Africa, but not all have turned out well….in one instance, government officials of the Democratic Republic of Congo actually returned hundreds of illegally collected parrots to poachers (please see article below)! Today I’ll highlight some good that may have come from a particularly sad situation. Read More »
New Zealand’s endemic parrot, the Kea (Nestor notabilis), was nearly driven to extinction by ranchers who believed the bird was a threat to their sheep (please see below). Hunting is now outlawed, but the Kea’s troubles are not over – a recent study has documented that stoats, possums and rats, all introduced from elsewhere, are eating chicks and attacking adults. Read More »
New efforts are underway to help 2 critically endangered Caribbean parrots, the Bahaman Amazon (Amazona leucocephala bahamensis) and the Puerto Rican Amazon (A. vittata). The various Caribbean islands are a hot-bed both of parrot diversity and parrot troubles – the Guadeloupe and Martinique Amazon Parrots, and a subspecies of the Puerto Rican Amazon (formerly found on Culebra Island), are already extinct.
The Bahaman Amazon
The Bahaman Amazon, also known as the Bahama Parrot, is closely related to the Cuban Amazon (please see photo). It is limited in distribution to the Bahaman Islands of Grand Abaco and Grand Inagua. Read More »
Finally, some good conservation news! Believed extinct until 81 individuals were found in the Columbian Andes in 1998, the Yellow-Eared Parrot (Ognorhynchus icterotis) is now recovering nicely. Thanks to an intensive, country-wide conservation program, the population now numbers over 1,000. In fact, the International Conservation Union (IUCN) has downgraded the species from “Critically Endangered” to “Endangered”, an action that is all-too-rare these days.
Although the bird’s recovery is believed largely due to the efforts of 3 major conservation organizations – Fundacion Pro Aves, American Bird Conservation and Fundacion Loro Parque, over 180 individuals, 47 organizations and numerous local communities also played a vital role. Their spectacular success will no doubt be very useful in serving as a template for recovery efforts aimed at other species of birds.
Survival Problems and Solutions
The Yellow-Eared Parrot faced, in addition to the usual dangers that decimate rare species, a unique threat – it nests almost exclusively in the Wax Palm. This palm, which is also Columbia’s National Tree, is much valued for use in certain religious services of the Catholic Faith, and is itself in danger of extinction. Fortunately, the Catholic Church became an enthusiastic supporter of the parrot recovery plan, and is working hard to reduce Wax Palm usage.
The creation of the 10,000 acre Parrot Conservation Corridor, and an ambitious nest box installation program, is also key to this Yellow-Eared Parrot’s continued survival.
Please see my article Religion, Psittacines and Palms for info on the conservation of this species and the Golden-Plumed Parakeet in Ecuador.
Natural history and conservation info is available in this Birdlife International article.