The Gray-breasted Parakeet conservation project run by the Brazilian conservation organization Aquasis, with support from American Bird Conservancy (ABC), reached a new level of success with its nest box program in 2020, when 388 of the Endangered birds fledged.
The project provides a shining example of how conservation partners can join with communities to save rare species and their habitats. Numbers of young, fledged parakeets have grown most years during this decade-long program, raising this localized species from the brink of extinction in its stronghold, the Baturité Mountains of northeastern Brazil.
Since the project began, in 2010, a total of 1,553 chicks have fledged into the wild. Another sign of a rebound: a high tally of 657 Gray-breasted Parakeets registered by 160 recruited volunteers, who counted the birds in the Baturité Mountains on December 1, 2019.
“Providing artificial nest boxes to boost reproduction is critically important for the Gray-breasted Parakeet, as many of the large trees with natural nesting cavities have been removed,” says Bennett Hennessey, ABC's Brazil Program Coordinator.
For this past 2019/2020 breeding season, 111 nest boxes were placed at 34 sites, on private properties and in the new Gray-breasted Parakeet Wildlife Refuge. This year, 82 (74 percent) of these nest boxes were used, including, for the first time, five nest boxes at the refuge, where 19 chicks fledged. Clutch size (the number of eggs) per box averaged 6.6 eggs, and 87 percent of the hatched chicks fledged into the wild. This program receives key support from Loro Parque Fundación.
ABC has been supporting the Gray-breasted Parakeet education project through the years. This includes providing a vehicle for staff to reach remote communities as the parakeet population expands, and emergency COVID-19 crisis support this year.
Education has been paramount for the project's success, motivating the local municipality to reallocate public land to create the 97-acre Gray-breasted Parakeet Wildlife Refuge, where the program is now based. Years of education helped cultivate a local pride in the species, and has driven participation by private landowners in the nest box program and bird surveys.
Historically, the Gray-breasted Parakeet was found throughout northeastern Brazil's humid forests, but now most of that habitat is gone. Today, 98 percent of the population occurs in the Baturité Mountains. In light of its tremendous nest box success, Aquasis plans to reintroduce the birds to other regenerating forest areas with the goals of returning the species to its former range, increasing its numbers, and eventually helping it reach non-threatened status.
ABC gratefully acknowledges the following donors for their support of this ongoing project: David and Patricia Davidson, Michael Reid, Larry Thompson, and several other individual donors.
American Bird Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation. Find us on abcbirds.org, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (@ABCbirds).
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