We are just now wrapping up our field season on the twin volcano island of Ometepe, Nicaragua.
Maderas Volcano, Ometepe
This is our first season to monitor nests and to find out what might be keeping this flock of yellow-naped amazon parrots from flourishing. We also worked with community members to patrol the area. We monitored nests in the near sea-level forest patch known as Peña Inculta, and the cultivated and forested slopes of Volcano Maderas in Merida (whose nests reached over 400 meters!). We also did population monitoring of these two study sites on the island.
Some of us folks need a horse to get up to the higher nests
Horse resting under a nest tree
Here is what we are learning so far:
1. This is probably the most dense population of the endangered yellow-naped parrot in the world
2. This population suffers heavy nest poaching so people can sell the birds into the illegal wildlife trade.
3. With such heavy poaching, along with continual edging away of natural habitat that supply food and nest trees, this population is at risk.
4. We have put together a great team that is consistently improving their commitment and capacity to protect these parrots.
Team member Emerson happily climbing a nest tree
After first nest tree climb of 2017
Sometimes we don't find parrots, but find...(can you see the owl?)
But this is what we are looking for (two yellow-naped parrot chicks about 6 weeks of age)
Would you like to help? One thing you can do is visit this island. It is a great place to see lots of parrots. In one evening at Peña Inculta we counted 381 yellow-naped parrots, and 597 Pacific Parakeets. You can walk to this location from your hotel on the beach. While there, look up one of the team members (LOCOS) who make their living as guides. By supporting them you are supporting conservation.
Pair of yellow-naped amazons and large flock of Pacific parakeets flying by volcano Concepcion
Pacific parakeet leaving a cavity they were inspecting in Peña Inculta
If you are from the USA, I ask you keep in mind what I heard while there this month. One of the community members, Julio, told us how there used to be so many more parrots on Ometepe, but that the trade in parrots really hit the birds hard in the 1980's. It was legal in the USA then. I asked why the sudden uptick in capturing wild parrots, and he said it was because in the 1980's there was a huge market to sell the birds to the USA. Boats took baby parrots off the island by the hundreds. For myself, a keeper of parrots in my childhood and young adulthood, I feel that I need to pay back in part what I took from here, and so I commit my resources of time and funds to offer what reparations I can.
Julio counting parrots at Peña Inculta with volcano Concepcion in the background
I am pushing this location as a place for parrot reparations and as a tourist destination not just because your dollars support the people, but because it reinforces their idea that parrots in the wild matter. It also helps them change their cultural expectations to it NOT being okay to take birds from the wild and place them in homes and the trade, both of which are physically devastating to individual birds. In addition, the people need options for economic viability if they are not to poach, illegally clear land, or even sell or use drugs.
Pair of yellow-naped parrots flying over Peña Inculta
Come share your resources, your heart, and your solidarity with these people, and go to this island. It will give you hope, and in turn, you give it to others.
You can also support these people and parrots by donating directly to our conservation work there, as we plan on working with this team for 25 years to insure that they parrots keep on flying free.
Thank you! Thanks too to the Ometepe Team:
Loreros Observando Conservando Ometepe (LOCOS)
Flora y Fauna Internacional