Ecuador amazon parrots, new study

This video is called Parrot Clay Lick at Yasuni National Park, Amazon, Ecuador.

From the BBC:

23 May 2014 Last updated at 16:44 GMT

Study offers snapshot of rare Ecuador Amazon parrot

By Mark Kinver Environment reporter, BBC News

UK researchers that headed to South America to learn more about one of the world’s rarest parrots have returned with “more questions than answers”.

A team from Chester Zoo spent three weeks studying Ecuador Amazon parrots.

The parrot was only reclassified as a species in its own right in December, before which it was deemed to be a subspecies of a common group of birds.

Only 600 individuals are estimated to remain in the wild, prompting the new species to be listed as Endangered.

“The truth is that we came back with far more questions than answers,” explained expedition leader Mark Pilgrim, director general of Chester Zoo.

“Suddenly, there are a whole number of things that we didn’t expect and we now have questions about.”

One example was how the birds chose their roosting sites amid the mangroves of Cerro Blanco, located along the coast of western Ecuador.

“We knew from literature from our previous visit that the parrots roosted in the mangroves and flew to the dry forests to feed,” Dr Pilgrim told BBC News.

“The assumption was that they did that to protect themselves from predators that were not found on the mangrove islands, but they fly very far out into the mangroves.

“Shrimp farms use bird scaring devices, which are designed to frighten the herons and shore birds and stop them eating the farms’ stock.

“So is this affecting [the parrots’] behaviour? We don’t know.”

Lovesick parrots?

The study also raised questions about the birds’ breeding behaviour.

Based on data from earlier surveys and literature, the researchers assumed that they would be monitoring the parrots during the breeding season.

“However, we did not find any proof that they were breeding at that time,” explained Dr Pilgrim.

The team monitored the daily flights made by the parrots from the mangroves to the dry forests, and the return journey at the end of each day.

“One of the methods used to assess how many of the birds are breeding was to count how many single birds were making the flight.

Although the birds fly in large groups, Dr Pilgrim said it was relatively easy to spot pairs within the group. During the breeding season, it had been assumed that females did not leave their nests in the dry forests because they were incubating eggs or feeding chicks.

“So during the breeding season, you get a higher proportion of single birds travelling back to the mangroves than you do during the non-breeding season,” he suggested.

However, the team only recorded 11% of the birds in flight as “singles”.

“That could suggest that as few as 11% of the population were reproducing, which seems very low,” he observed.

However, Dr Pilgrim said that there was not 100% certainty that when the female is on the eggs in nests within the forest that the male still travels back to the mangroves.

“Maybe not all of them do travel back; maybe some of them stay in the forests in close proximity or share the nest with the female,” he said.

“So while there is some concern, there is still a lot to do before we can make clear and bold statements about what is happening there.”

Double-edged sword

But he added that there were some clearly positive aspects, as far as the remaining habitat was concerned.

“The dry forest area of Cerro Blanco appears to be extremely well protected; there is certainly a lot of ranger activity,” he said.

“All the time we were in the forest, we did not come across a lot of people who could be potentially poaching or tree felling.

“In that sense, it is very reassuring that the area appears to be well protected.”

Although a vast majority of the nation’s mangrove habitat was destroyed in the past to clear the way for shrimp farms, Dr Pilgrim said that the remaining sites were very well protected.

However, he added: “The estimated total population for this species is about 600. But the sub-populations are less than 250 birds. So, based on our findings, the IUCN is now classifying the birds as an endangered species.”

He acknowledged that the classification could be considered as a double-edged sword.

Although its continuing existence on the planet was uncertain, it did mean the species would be considered as a conservation priority, attracting resources.

Before the Ecuador Amazon parrot (Amazona lilacina) was recognised as an individual species, it was considered to be a subspecies of the four-strong Amazona autumnalis group that had a combined population of about five million, meaning it was not deemed to be a conservation priority.

Dr Pilgrim said that plans were in place to repeat the Cerro Blanco survey every third year in order to build up a long-term dataset that would allow researchers to monitor the parrots’ population dynamics.

He observed: “The forest is protected, the mangrove is protected, there does not appear to be a huge amount of nest predation from people, so – in that sense – there is nothing drastic going on that is threatening them right now.”

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Conservation awards for 2014

This video is called Blue-throated Macaws in the Barba Azul Nature Reserve, Bolivia.

From BirdLife:

By Martin Fowlie, Wed, 09/04/2014 – 09:37

The Conservation Leadership Programme (CLP) has announced this year’s conservation team awards. Twenty six grants have been awarded in 16 different countries worth a total of $450,000.

This year’s projects form another extremely diverse group ranging from conservation of Slender-snouted Crocodile in Gabon, to surveying and assessing three Red Listed tree species in the Western Ghats of India. This year, for the first time, the CLP will be supporting a project from Antigua and Barbuda.

“These awards have identified 110 young conservation leaders from developing countries early in their careers. They join a global network of more than 2,500 conservationists in the CLP alumni. These people are committed to conservation and improving the state of nature globally”, said Kiragu Mwangi, BirdLife’s CLP Programme Manager.

Bird species that will be the focus of some of this year’s projects include the Critically Endangered Blue-throated Macaw, Sociable Lapwing, Black-breasted Puffleg and Siberian Crane. A further two projects will focus on the Serra do Urubu Important Bird and Biodiversity Area in north-eastern Brazil and the Inter-Andean Slopes and Chocó Endemic Bird Areas in Colombia.

In addition to funding all participating team members will get the chance to access a wealth of conservation expertise and receive training from within the CLP Partnership.

All award-winning team members will become part of the CLP alumni network that supports approximately 2,500 conservation leaders. The Alumni Network provides ongoing professional development to our emerging leaders and positions them to multiply their impact in the conservation sector.

“Through this programme, we invest in ongoing professional development and mentoring to further build skills and knowledge”, said Kiragu.

Alumni members also receive access to additional grants, mentoring from CLP staff and training. A representative from each award-winning team will also take part in CLP’s two-week Conservation Leadership & Management Training Workshop in June 2014 at a remote ecological research station in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies.

Four of the 2014 award winning teams will be mentored by BirdLife Partners – Asociacion Armonia (Bolivia), SAVE Brasil (Brazil), Aves y Conservación (Ecuador) and Nigerian Conservation Foundation.

The CLP has supported over 554 projects since the programme’s start in 1985.

The CLP is a unique partnership between BirdLife International, Conservation International, Fauna & Flora International and Wildlife Conservation Society. The mission of the CLP is to advance biodiversity conservation globally by building the leadership capabilities of early-career conservation professionals working in places with limited capacity to address high-priority conservation issues.

Full Project List

Future Conservationist Awards (up to $15,000)

  • Assessing Extinction Risk of Kenya’s Exploited Coral Reef Fish
  • Conservation Assessment of Ibadan Malimbe in South-Western Nigeria
  • Combining Research and Local Community Involvement to Save Lemur in Madagascar
  • Conservation Beyond Breeding Grounds: Tracking Sociable Lapwing in Eritrea
  • Conservation of Slender-Snouted Crocodile in the Lake Region of Gabon
  • Toward Sustainable Logging in São Tomé, São Tomé and Príncipe
  • Conserving Endangered Silvery-Brown Tamarin in Highly Degraded Forests, Colombia
  • Monitoring Harlequin Frogs in Sierra Nevada, Colombia
  • Conservation Status Assessment of Salamanders in Santander, Colombia
  • Unravelling the Occupancy Patterns of Guiana Dolphin in Southeastern Brazil
  • River Dolphin Population Assessment in Yarinacocha Lagoon, Peru
  • Promoting Local Participation in Habitat Conservation of Black-breasted Puffleg, Ecuador
  • Status Surveys of Focal Species in the Magdalena Medio, Colombia
  • Baird´s Tapir Conservation in Nombre De Dios National Park, Honduras
  • Conserving West Indian Whistling Duck on Antigua and Barbuda’s Offshore-Islands
  • Preventing Extinction of the Critically Endangered Blue-Throated Macaw, Bolivia
  • Tackling Invasive Alien Species in the Western Ghats Hotspot, India
  • Conservation of Otter Habitat Through Stakeholder Participation, India
  • Survey and Assessment of Threatened Trees in Western Ghats, India
  • Effect of Landscape Change on Mammals in Eastern Ghats, India
  • Protecting Horseshoe Bats of Romania

Follow-up Awards ($25,000)

  • Promoting Conservation of Threatened Birds in Western Colombia
  • Promoting Conservation Through Ecotourism and Education in Serra Do Urubu Important Bird Area, Brazil
  • Conserving Siberian Cranes in China Through Sustainable Water Management
  • Conserving Livelihoods and Semnopithecus Ajax: Resolving Conflicts Around Khajiar-Kalatop Sanctuary-Chamba

Leadership Awards ($50,000)

  • Dugongs for Life: Engaging Malagasy Communities in Marine Ecosystem Stewardship
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National garden bird count

This video is about a young ring-necked parakeet in the Vondelpark in Amsterdam, begging for food from its parent.

This weekend is national garden bird count in the Netherlands.

People count for half an hour which birds they see from the windows of their homes.

As for me, I saw today one ring-necked parakeet, one magpie, one jackdaw, and one carrion crow.

Not so many birds. Because birds do not need to come close to houses because of mild winter weather?

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Good blue-throated macaw news from Bolivia

This video is called Blue-throated Macaw, Bolivia. It says about itself:

26 Jan 2008

One of the last few nesting pairs of Blue-throated Macaws in the wild, Bolivia. Ara glaucogularis. More info and photos here.

From Wildlife Extra:

Conservation success in Bolivia

Blue-throated Macaw Reserve doubles in size with purchase of adjoining ranch

December 2013: The Barba Azul Reserve, which is located in the Bolivian Beni and protects the world’s remaining population of blue-throated macaws, has secured the purchase of 14,827 acres of natural savanna and forest habitat to more than double the size of the reserve to 27,180 acres.

The extension by Asociación Armonía is significant because it will protect a mosaic of tropical grasslands, as well as two large palm forest islands, a small central river, water-edge short-grass habitat, and more than 20 small isolated palm islands.

An extension of this size means that the Blue-throated Macaw Reserve can now adequately support landscape species that require large protected home ranges, such as jaguars, pumas and maned wolves.The extension of the reserve will improve its ability to protect the 27 species of medium and large mammals that depend on this protected habitat, including the ‘Vulnerable to Extinction’ giant anteater and marsh deer, as well as many of the threatened mammals such as maned molf, jaguar, puma, pampas deer, white-collared peccary and capybara.

The Omi River in the Blue-throated Macaw Reserve is the only year-round water source for a massive area, where many mammals depend on this clean water through the dry season.More than 250 bird species frequent the reserve; the most imperiled being the ‘Critically Endangered’ blue-throated macaw.

The additional protection of two large forest islands will ensure food resources for the flocks of macaws, while the smaller forest islands will protect remote roosting sites.The Beni tropical savanna is an area twice the size of Portugal and almost entirely ranched, with yearly massive burns to clear the way for cattle. It is a land of extreme contrasts with intensive flooding in the summer, and months of drought in the winter. The Beni savanna is considered an ‘Endangered Critical’ ecosystem yet the Blue-throated Macaw Reserve is the only protected area in this ecosystem without cattle impact and annual grassland burning.

Botanical garden orchids, parakeets and jays

This video from the botanical garden in Leiden, the Netherlands, is about a 2010 orchids exhibition there.

In the botanical garden hothouses, 6,000 tropical orchids grow.

On our way to the garden, two ring-necked parakeets sat in a tree along the canal. They were eating fruits.

In the pond near the garden entrance, mallards and coots swimming. A jackdaw on the bank.

Two jays on a hedge in front of the hothouse buildings. Magpies there as well.

After the reconstruction of the hothouses, the two tropical aquariums have inhabitants again. In the aquarium to the left, crystal red shrimps. And glowlight rasbora fish. And threadfin rainbowfish.

Also cherry barb fish.

This is a cherry barb video.

In the aquarium at the right: golden zebra loach; pearl gourami; and honey gourami.

The aquariums mimic Asian fresh water environments.

To the left, the orchid hothouses. Prosthechea cochleata was flowering. So was a Dendrochilum species.

Still further to the left is the Victoria amazonica hall. The reconstruction of the hall is finished, but this biggest water-lily species in the world is not back yet; still in a nursery pond. When it will be back, it will share the hall with the world’s smallest flowering plants, Wolffia, which are there already.

Goldfish swam in the Victoria amazonica pond. Is the catfish, which used to be here before reconstruction, back?

Near the astronomical observatory, Coprinellus flocculosus fungi.

Many beechnuts. Saffron flowers.

A grey heron on the lawn.

Near the source of the stream: candlestick fungus.

On a tree a ring-necked parakeet. And a great spotted woodpecker climbing upwards.

Crocus goulimyi flowers.

As we leave, a great crested grebe swims and dives in the pond near the entrance/exit.