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Mountains of Hope for Parrots in Paraguay

National Park Serranía San Luis

September 11-12, 2018

Our last stop while surveying the national parks in Concepcion, Paraguay in early September 2018 was in Serrania, San Luis (serranía means range of mountains). This park is charged with protecting the Cerrado habitat, which is the vulnerable tropical savanna in Paraguay. The entrance to this park is along a dirt road that passes through private property, and so we were glad to have a park ranger, Luciano, to guide us in. Along the road we kept count of the parrots, and also dropped off human "bird counters" at specific points along the road. We were able to observe a few birds:

Amazona aestiva (turquoise-fronted amazon parrot) = 2

Pionus maximilia (scaly-headed parrot) = 2

Brotogeris chiriri (yellow-chevroned parakeet) = 4

Eupsittula aurea (peach-fronted parakeet) = 2

Pyrrhua frontalis (maroon-bellied parakeet) = 4

The chacra (ranch) near the entrance to the park

Maroon-bellied parakeet checking out the corrals in the morning

Burrowing owl checking us out in the morning

The next morning we did a formal count on a different stretch of the road. This was our first cloudy day in a week of parrot counting, which makes some of the identification a challenge in the very early morning. We were delighted, however, with the activity we witnessed, as many birds are coming to this area to feed on the flowers. Our count was conducted right outside the park boundaries in a chacra (ranch), as there are no expansive open spaces or trails from which to conduct parrot counts in the park. Here is the minimum number of distinct individuals we recorded:

Amazona aestiva (turquoise-fronted amazon parrot) = 25

Pyrrhua frontalis (maroon-bellied parakeet) = 34

Eupsittula aurea (peach-fronted parakeet) = 12

Brotogeris chiriri (yellow-chevroned parakeet) = 29

Pionus maximilia (scaly-headed parrot) = 6

Park Ranger Edilio Suarez in action

Parrot Conservationist Andrés Álvarez, not quite so much in action (after a very early morning and long week of parrot counting)

Of the turquoise-fronted parrots (called hablador in Spanish) there are three groups of three, indicating most probably two parents with one fledgling. This means that families are being produced here, and that not all the nests are poached for the illegal wildlife trade.

Yellow-chevroned parakeet in tree, post "flower breakfast"

After the count we toured the facilities at the ranger station and were impressed. Though the laboratory building is currently without water or electricity, it wouldn't take much to develop this station into a major resource for the region, perhaps an education or liberation center.

We left this place with dreams of one day seeing hundreds of macaws and parrots flying over the station, and hundreds of students and tourists cherishing and preserving them.

Ranger and parrot counting crew at laboratory building in San Luis

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