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Echo Parakeet Conservation – World’s Rarest Parrot, Back from the Brink

Echo ParakeetThe Echo or Mauritius Parakeet (Psittacula eques) population was reduced to 10-12 individuals by the late 1970’s, and remained at similar levels into the next decade.   Thus, it had the dubious distinction of being the world’s rarest parrot.  Thanks to the efforts of the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, the World Parrot Trust, and the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, its future is now somewhat brighter.  However, the Echo Parakeet is still one of, if not the, most endangered parrots on the planet, yet receives little of the attention granted the Kea and other better-known species.

Former Home of the Dodo

The birds of Mauritius, a small island nation in the Indian Ocean, southeast of southern Africa, have a troubled history.  The infamous and now extinct Dodo lived there, and the Pink Pigeon, Mauritius Kestrel and other endemics (species found nowhere else) are barely holding on.  Read More »

Blue-Throated Macaws Cling to Survival in a Single Bolivian Reserve

Blue Throated MacawParrot conservation news has been somewhat dismal lately (please see here for some examples), so today I’d like to highlight a bright spot. Surveys have shown that Bolivia’s Barba Azul Reserve supports a breeding population of Blue-Throated Macaws (Ara glaucogularis), a species so rare that it was believed extinct until its “re-discovery” in 1992.  Maned Wolves, Orinoco Geese, Bush Dogs, Pampas Deer and other rare animals are also making themselves at home in the reserve’s 12,300 acres.

Wildlife Oasis amid Ranches

Managed by the World Land Trust, Barba Azul Reserve is comprised of tropical savannas, “forest islands” and marshes.  I had the good fortune to work in a similar area inVenezuela, and can attest to the incredible diversity of wildlife that such habitats support.  As was true for protected areas in Venezuela, Barba Azul is surrounded by huge cattle ranches.  Read More »

517 Wild-Caught Amazon and Pionus Parrots Seized in Brazil

Pionus menstruusTheUSA has long prohibited the importation of wild-caught parrots, and many countries regulate the collection of native species.  However, enforcement difficulties and huge profits ensure that the taking of wild parrots continues on a scale that surprises many conservation-minded bird-keepers. Over the last 18 months, the illegal trapping of African Gray Parrots has been very much in the news (please see article below).  Unfortunately, a recent confiscation of Blue-Fronted Amazons, Yellow-Faced Parrots, Blue-Headed Pionus and Scaly-Headed Pionus shows that the problem is not limited to Central Africa.

Trapping and Habitat Loss go Hand-in-Hand

The illegally-collected parrots were hidden beneath cargo in a truck that was stopped in Pernambuco State, Brazil, on September 25, 2011.

Most of the birds appeared to be youngsters, which may indicate that nesting trees were destroyed in the process of collecting them (trappers frequently chop down nesting trees in order to reach young parrots).  Trees containing suitable nesting holes are a rare resource in most habitats, and are important to the survival of a wide variety of birds, invertebrates, amphibians, mammals and reptiles.  Their loss has severe, long term implications.

Helping the Confiscated Parrots

The displaced parrots are being cared for byBrazil’s Environmental Conservation Organization (ECO).  Caretakers have the expertise to rear them, but as you can imagine the cost and time involved, especially where nestlings are concerned, is enormous.  The stress, poor care and cramped conditions endured by the parrots while in collectors’ hands will ensure that many need medical attention.  Read More »

Parrot Conservation – Rare Cockatoo Accepts Artificial Nest in Urban Environment

Red-tailed Black Cockatoo in FlightA pair of highly endangered Forest Red-Tailed Black Cockatoos, Calyptorhynchus banksii naso, has hatched a chick in an artificial nest box located in Perth, Australia.  The box was erected as part of a conservation effort launched by the Western Australian Museum and Murdoch University.  The nesting is significant because it represents both the first time this species has accepted an artificial nest and the first known breeding in an urban setting.

Unique Threats and Considerations

The Forest Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo faces “typical” problems such as habitat loss, but is also plagued by several unique threats and an unusual breeding biology…all of which complicated the formation of a recovery plan.

Black Cockatoos have very specific nest-site requirements, and once a suitable nesting hollow is located a pair generally uses it for many years.  Over the past several decades, Black Cockatoos in natural habitats have come under pressure from burgeoning populations of feral honeybees and of other cockatoo species, including Galahs and Corellas.  These aggressive insects and birds take over Black Cockatoo nests and severely impact the species’ ability to reproduce. Read More »

Blue and Gold Macaw Natural History – the Wild Side of a Popular Pet

Blue and Gold MacawThe huge, stunningly-colored Blue and Gold (or Blue and Yellow) Macaw, Ara ararauna, is one of the most recognizable of all birds…size, color, intelligence (and voice!) make it impossible to ignore.  While it has long been bred in captivity, the natural history of this spectacular parrot is less-well known.  Please read on to learn about its life in the wild and the threats to its continued existence.


The Blue and Gold has the largest natural range of any macaw.  It is found from Eastern Panama east across most of Northern South America and south through Bolivia to Paraguay and Eastern Brazil.  Despite this, it is declining or extinct in some areas…Trinidad’s macaws disappeared in the 1960’s, but a new population has been re-introduced. Read More »

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