This morning, Sam Williams from ParrotWatch.org spoke to a packed house at Phoenix Landing’s annual conservation-themed lecture. He shared his team’s research on the Amazon parrots of Bonaire — both the scientific results, as well as the stories (and scars) behind how the team undertook the research.
Similar to last year’s event with Dr. Brightsmith and his research into the macaws of Peru, Sam Williams showed nest and hatch data over a period of years, except with a species that hasn’t gotten the same level of attention from the eco-tourism industry. Because Bonaire comprises such a small geographic space, the Amazons tend to overlap with human populations a lot, which brings with it a set of problems above and beyond the poaching issue. An interesting insight into the issue was that the locals don’t have a word for “poaching”, so in his campaigns to educate the island’s the researchers describe the taking of the hatchlings in terms of “stealing” and “kidnapping.”
According to the team’s research, one year, of the 90-odd laid eggs that were documented, only 30-something lived to the fledgling stage and 10 were taken illegally; in a population of wild birds where very few actually mate, this is a huge hit on the ability of the population to grow.
Poachers also create other long-lasting problems when they cut down the trees in which the Amazons built their nests. The Parrot Watch team is trying to figure out how to help replenish the availability of suitable nesting sites. These parrots nest in trees as well as cliff faces, but man-made nest boxes that mimic the right shape and size of natural nests have had only limited success. Wild parrots, being fairly neo-phobic, just weren’t interested in exploring and making a home in these objects for the most part. Perhaps in the future they’ll have more success in figuring out what makes a “hole” a “home” for these Amazons.
Sam also shared some amazing videos that were taken within the nest, including a clip of eggs being laid, a chick hatching, and Amazons fighting with iguanas, plus some gorgeous photography of the Amazons and other native fauna. The video and nest photos were taken with the recorder and data loggers that Phoenix Landing purchased for Parrot Watch earlier this year.
In terms of next steps for him and the project, Sam talked about the need to get the local population of Bonaire to take ownership of their island’s conservation effort.
Phoenix Landing’s Adoptable Pet Parrots
As always, several adoptable parrots were on hand to meet potential adopters… and add to the auditory experience. Two of the umbrella cockatoos had to be moved around the room because the sound of Cockatoo screaming was drowning out the lecture.
In addition to several cockatoos, we also had two Blue & Gold Macaws and a number of smaller birds including lovebirds, cockatiels and a Poi.
Another Fantastic Lecture (and Potluck)
A big thanks to Sam for his presentation and all the volunteers who put together the fantastic potluck.
We still have a lot of classes for the remainder of the year, but be especially sure to join us on December 12 for our event with Rebecca K. O’Connor, who will be talking about her book “A Parrot for Life“. The discussion will include advice on how to avoid problem behaviors; prepare your parrot for life’s surprises; integrate changes into your parrot’s life seamlessly and train for a healthier relationship. Rebecca’s books will be available for sale.