The first natural breeding of the Puerto Rican Amazon out of the reserve after 144 years

March 5th, 2015 | by LubosTomiska
The first natural breeding of the Puerto Rican Amazon out of the reserve after 144 years
Conservation projects

Conservation of critically endangered Puerto Rican Amazon (Amazona vittata) recorded great success. Firstly, after 144 years a nesting pair of this species was found out of natural reserves. What is more, birds reared without any assistance two youngers. Researchers found the cavity near national park Rio Abajo in the western tip of Puerto Rico where one of three rescue stations for artificial breeding of this species occurs.

The nest was under constant control of video cameras so conservationists could observe how two completely feathered youngers fledge out of the cavity. “The historical importance of this makes your hairs stand up,” comments the secretary of ministry of natural resources Carmen Guerrero for AP agency and adds: ”They’re one of the top 10 most endangered birds in the world.” Youngers were bred by a pair which was released from the rescue station Rio Abajo. The natural breeding was achieved also in years 1973 and 1993 in the national park El Ynque which is under the control and closed for the public. This breeder is more valuable because occurs out of reserves.


File:Amazona vittata -Iguaca Aviary, Puerto Rica -two-8a.jpg

Photo: (c) Tom MacKenzie. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.


So far amazons have bred only in artificial nest boxes

In the national park El Ynque in northeastern part of Puerto Rico we can find the second breeding station and even there bred birds are released into the wild. It’s the only tropical forest recorded in the list of US National Forests. Researchers have already noticed some attemps to nest naturally the last year but no chick hatched from the eggs. Otherwise, nesting of this species becomes more common in this reserve but in artificial boxes. The natural way is the key to preserve this species for future.

The last season brought us even one more record. Apart from two bred youngers out of natural reserves the wild pairs have bred 14 youngers in artificial boxes. So together there are 16 extra birds. In breeding stations 46 were bred in this year and 51 individuals in the last year. “These have been the highest two reproductive years in history,” states Carmen Guerrero. The pair which bred out of the reserve is tracked by a radio transmitter. However, their youngers are not.


File:Puerto Rican parrot chick.jpg

A chick of Puerto Rican Parrot.


In 1975 last 13 individuals left

Puerto Rican Amazon was at that time the most endangered parrot of the world. After that US authorities have decided to take an action. They imposed a ban on cutting trees in areas where Puerto Rican Amazons were found and start the conservation project. In total number of three breeding stations there are 409 individuals and 75-142 more birds live in two Puerto Rican national parks. According to BirdLife International statistics among these parrots should be 33-47 adults. In the beginning of 19th century the population of Puerto Rican Amazon counted more than 1 million individuals.

Puerto Rican authorities are going to build a new breeding station in the western part of Maricao town where up to December 2015 20-25 parrots will be transported. Their offsprings will be released into the wild there. Cynthia Doher from US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) says that the aim is to create self-sufficient population which won’t be dependent on a human assistance.


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