Tuesday, April 12

Tangerine: Life as a Bird

About two years ago, I received an e-mail message from Jane Johnson.  She explained that she was in the process of writing a book on a Grey-cheeked Parakeet that has shared and brightened the lives of Jane and her husband Cliff.  My name was given to her as someone who knows the species in the wild and could help with observations, etc.
I was intrigued and answered Jane’s message, beginning a back and forth exchange that finally culminated in the publication of her beautiful book, “Tangerine: Life as a Bird” at the end of 2010.
The book focuses on Tangerine, a Grey-cheeked Parakeet (Brotogerispyrrhoptera) that has lived for several years with Jane and Cliff.  I myself rehabilitated and released back in the wild a Grey-Cheek, an endangered species throughout its limited range in Southwestern Ecuador to Northwest Peru.  I could relate toTangerine’s inquisitiveness as it explored the house and interacted with the wild animals outside.

An especially important part of the book is the connection with wild Gray-Cheeks and their habitat in the dry tropical forests of Ecuador.  We are blessed with flocks of Gray-cheeks in the Cerro Blanco Protected Forest that pass noisily through the trees as they stop to feed on the fruits and seeds of native forest trees and loudly scold any hawk, human or other potential threat that gets near them.
Jane and Cliff visited Cerro Blanco in January and after a day or two without seeing any Gray-cheeks in the supposed Mecca of the species, I went out early with our visitors and we were rewarded with multiple sightings of Grey-cheeks.
The book has been self published and shortly a web site will be up and running to handle sales, inquiries, etc.  A nice plug for our work in protecting Grey-cheeked habitat is mentioned, with a link to a campaign page that has been set up on the World Land Trust-US website http://worldlandtrust-us.org/index.php?page=cerroblanco, through which, you can make your tax deductible donations to support our work.  Thank you.

Monday, April 11

First National Census of Great Green Macaw Ara ambiguus guayaquilensis Carried Out in Ecuador

Eric Horstman

The National Conservation Strategy for the Great Green Macaw in Ecuador, which was reviewed and revised in 2009, includes as one of its policies, the implementation of projects for research and monitoring of populations of this critically endangered species in Ecuador.

While work has been done to monitor the local population in and around the Cerro Blanco Protected Forest as well as some forest remnants on private property in the Cordillera Chongon Colonche, no effort has been made to carry out a census of other populations in the species’ range in Ecuador.
Based on the experience acquired in a bi-national census of the same species carried out in Nicaragua and Costa Rica in 2009 and with the support of the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, the census was organized and carried out in the provinces of Esmeraldas, Santa Elena and Guayas.
Observers were positioned at strategic sites where macaws have been recently spotted, from 6 AM to 7 PM on December 21, 2010.  Participants included park guards of the Pro-Forest Foundation in Guayas Province, forest guards of the Project Chongon-Colonche of Fundacion Natura and staff of the Jocotoco Foundation at the Rio Canande Reserve in Esmeraldas Province.
A total of six Great Green Macaws were spotted on December 21st, including five individuals in the Bosque Protector Chongon Colonche and one macaw at the Hacienda El Molino, near the Cerro Blanco Protected Forest, by a group of biologists of the Consejo Provincial del Guayas.  The Jocotoco Foundation reported that days before the census, two macaws were seen at Rio Canande.
The overall population of Great Green Macaws in Ecuador is estimated at between 60 and 80 individuals, so this census only scratches the surface of the potential population that exists.  We hope that this year with more time and the support of the authorities, that we can extend the census to more areas in the range of the Great Green Macaw in Ecuador.  My feeling is that this population estimate is perhaps overly optimistic, as the twin threats of deforestation and capture of macaws for the pet trade continues in Ecuador at a rapid clip.