Endangered birds Grey-breasted Parakeets found in a new isolated population

January 8th, 2015 | by LubosTomiska
Endangered birds Grey-breasted Parakeets found in a new isolated population
Conservation projects
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Not every parrot is as much threatened as researchers assume. Young conservationists from Rio de Jainero found a small isolated population of the Grey-breasted Conure ( Pyrrhura griseipectus) which is included in the top ten of the most threatened parrots in the world. So far, only two places where this species occurs were known. The total number of these endangered birds doesn’t exceed 200. The IUCN Red List considers this species as critically endangered and the BirdLife International dabatase estimates last 30 to 200 birds.

Endangered birds nesting in rock cavities

“Last year, as part of our CLP-funded project we found clues suggesting the presence of this species in an isolated mountain, and it was only in March that we were able to confirm and document the finding”, said Fabio Nunes, project leader for BirdLife International.

The aim of young conservationists was to find new populations and extend the knowledge about distribution range of these endangere birds. The discovery was also interesting because so far it was supposed that these parrots inhabit tropical forests where nesting in tree cavities. However, this conure population was found to nest in rock cavities where drier vegetation occurs.

The Blue-winged Macaw (Primolius maracana) inhabits the same locations as well as the Spix Macaw (Cyanopsitta spixii) did in the past. The organization Aquasis leading this project gained the grant two years ago and proved that it wasn’t wasted money. Thanks to these funds the field research could be realized. Unfortunately, the found population counts just 5 to 15 individuals.

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Pyrrhura griseipectus as the rarest Pyrrhura conure

The Grey-breasted Conure is the rarest species of genus Pyrrhura. A few years ago this bird was included in the White-eared Conure (Pyrrhura leucotis) as its subspecies. In 2005 taxonomists decided to separate it. It’s an endemic parrot which is found only at 4 places in northeastern Brazil. Up to 2010 the population size of these endangered birds was estimated to be 250 birds. Consequently, the new population counting 50 individuals was found on brazilian Quixad. We can find the rest of the conure population on mountain reserve Serra do Baturité. To preserve genetic polymorphism of the whole population it would be advantegous to pair birds from different localities. However, it’s already a very long time when the populations split so researchers are not sure if their genes will be compatible.

In 2007, 80 Grey-brestated Parakeets (Pyrrhura griseipectus) were counted in Serra do Baturité. Today, researchers estimates about 250 individuals. In 80s it was found on two extra localities in Serra de Ibiapaba and Serra Negra. In the second one the last observations were done in 1991, but there are no records recently. The biggest danger for these birds is deforestation. It’s critically endangered but a few breeders breed it regularly in captivity.

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Title photo: © writhedhornbill. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

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