BIRD OF THE WEEK: 2/28/2014
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Ara glaucogularis
POPULATION: 300-400 individuals
IUCN STATUS: Critically Endangered
TREND: Stable or slowly increasing
HABITAT: Endemic to tropical savannas of northern Bolivia
The spectacular Blue-throated Macaw is one of two highly threatened macaws endemic to Bolivia. It inhabits scattered “islands” of palms and riparian areas amidst the wet savannas of the Beni area in northeastern Bolivia.
These macaws feed primarily on the fruits of the Motacú Palm, sometimes flying miles over open grassland to find fruiting trees.
One of the chief threats to the Blue-throated Macaw, poaching, has been addressed by legislation outside of Bolivia. Both the U.S. Wild Bird Conservation Act of 1992 and Europe's 2007 ban on the import of wild birds have helped halt the trafficking of this and other endangered birds.
ABC and partners have also worked to educate local communities about the plight of this species. ABC's Bolivian partner, Asociación Armonía, and the European conservation group Loro Parque Fundacion have successfully promoted the creation and use of attractive, colorful, artificial feathers for use in ceremonial headdresses in Bolivia, traditionally made with the central tail feathers taken from multiple parrot species.
ABC also helped Armonía create and expand the 11,555-acre Blue-throated Macaw Reserve, or Barba Azul, where the largest population of the macaw is located. A recently built field station houses researchers conducting studies on fire management, the use of nest boxes, and other conservation techniques. Plans are in place to build an ecolodge that will contribute to the reserve's financial sustainability.