Wild population of the Puerto Rican Amazon is recovering rapidly. Sixteen captive bred birds were released.

January 26th, 2016 | by LubosTomiska
Wild population of the Puerto Rican Amazon is recovering rapidly. Sixteen captive bred birds were released.
Conservation projects
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The long term training of a group of 30 Puerto Rican amazons in conservation center Rio Abajo leaded to release of 16 birds into the wild in the last week. These parrots will reinforce the local population which counts 100 birds of this species now. This gives us bright prospects for the future of the Puerto Rican Amazon in the wild. All released birds were bred in captivity. However, during the one-year training parrots learned all abilities and skills which are necessary to survive. This is not the first release in the area. In 1975, only 13 birds left in the wild.

100 Puerto Rican Amazons in the wild, 300 in captivity

„The release of captive bred birds is essential in our effort to save it from extinction. We hope that similar acitivities will lead to reinforcement of the wild population and also will make the natural reproduction of Puerto Rican Amazon more efficient. At the end of a process this parrot should disappear from the list of critically endangered species,“ said a biologist José L. Vivaldi Lugo who participated on the release to Puerto Rican on-line news Miprv.com.

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At this moment, Rio Abajo conservation center manages a collection of 198 Puerto Rican Amazons. Just around the station we can find around 80-90 wild birds while the rest of 20 individuals is found in El Yunque National Park in the Northeast of Puerto Rico.

The third aviary which is intended for preparation of captive bred birds for living in the wild was recently built in Maricao – a city in the west of the island. Parrots are placed there before the release and are getting used to feed on natural food sources.

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According to a secretary of agency Departamento de Recursos Naturales y Ambientales (DRNA), Carmen R. Guerrero Pérez, the Rio Abajo breeding center has been improved and secured against hurricanes which are very common there and represent a serious threat for birds living in the wild.

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The third isolated wild population is going to be established

During the last year, researchers found three natural cavities occupied by Puerto Rican amazons. Besides that they also provide artificial nestboxes for the wild birds. „We found the first case of nesting in natural cavities two years ago. In 2014, two active natural nests were found and three in 2015. It’s for the first time after long 144 years when a native parrot species nest naturally in territory of USA,“ said Guerrero.

In the last year, 49 youngers were bred in captivity which is the second best result in whole history of the project. In 2013, 51 youngers were raised.

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File:Amazona vittata.jpg

A pair of Puerto Rican Amazons. (c) Created by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. http://www.fws.gov/southeast/prparrot/images/, public domain.

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Originally, the Puerto Rican Amazon used to be a very common species. In the 19th century, wild population on Puerto Rico and surrounding islands counted more than a million of individuals. However, because of immigrants, deforestation and hurricanes the total number has been increased significantly. That’s why US government added it to the list of endangered species in 1968 and five years later, the first breeding station was open in El Yunque National Park.

Breeding center Rio Abajo was established in 1993. Conservationists start releasing of the captive bred parrots to the wild in 2000, in El Yunque and six years later also in Rio Abajo. Another group which is going to become a base of a new wild population in region Maricao will be released in this year.

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Title photo: Two Puerto Rican Amazons at Iguaca Aviary, Puerto Rica. (c)Tom MacKenzie of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

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  1. Pingback: 15 Puerto Rican Parrots Released Into The Wild » Wildlife & Nature Conservation

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