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Surveying Parrots, Dreams, and Parks

Paso Bravo National Park, Paraguay, September 6-9, 2018

Paso Bravo Ranger Station

On our tri-park survey in Concepción, Paraguay in early September 2018 that began with Cerro Cora and ended with Serranía San Luis, we spent a couple of nights in between at Paso Bravo National Park where we documented eight parrot species.

Our first night was at the entrance ranger station, where we arrived late after suddenly not having a place to camp at our previous estancia (ranch). This is why I never, ever travel without my expedition hammock. Early the next morning we conducted a formal count:

Amazona aestiva (turquoise-fronted amazon parrot) = 6

Eupsittula aurea (peach-fronted parakeet) = 2

Pyrrhua frontalis (maroon-bellied parakeet) = 13

Maroon-bellied parakeets feeding at Paso Bravo (above and below)

We then went deeper into the park to the Sofia Ranger station and did a driving count along a rough road through the grass and low vegetation:

Amazona aestiva (turquoise-fronted amazon parrot) = 24

Eupsittula aurea (peach-fronted parakeet) = 2

Entrance to Sofia Station, Paso Bravo

Dr. Andrés Álvarez parrot counting in Sofia Station, Paso Bravo

Moving on from there we spent the next two nights at a historical fort outside of San Carlos, conducting first a formal count in the morning at a large open savanna:

Amazona aestiva (turquoise-fronted amazon parrot) = 9

Eupsittula aurea (peach-fronted parakeet) = 29

Brotogeris chiriri (yellow-chevroned parakeet) = 4

Ara chloropterus (red-and-green macaw) = 2

Pionus maximilia (scaly-headed parrot) = 2

Psittacara leucophthalmus (white-eyed parakeet) = 2

Psittacara acuticaudatus (blue-crowned parakeet) = 7

Sunrise at count in Paso Bravo (above) and red-and-geen macaws passing by us during count (below)

We then conducted a formal count deeper in the park in the afternoon near another open savanna:

Amazona aestiva (turquoise-fronted amazon parrot) = 4

Eupsittula aurea (peach-fronted parakeet) = 8

Pionus maximilia (scaly-headed parrot) = 4

Psittacra leucophthalmus (white-eyed parakeet) = 2

Psittacara acuticaudatus (blue-crowned parakeet) = 12

Blue-crowned parakeet at savanna count (photo by Andrés Álvarez)

On our last morning we did a formal count at the fort:

Amazona aestiva (turquoise-fronted amazon parrot) = 3

Pyrrhua frontalis (maroon-bellied parakeet) = 17

Brotogeris chiriri (yellow-chevroned parakeet) = 39

Sunrise count at Fort

Dr. LoraKim Joyner and Nora Neris of SEAM during our sunrise count at the fort

Right afterwards, we did a casual count moving in a truck from the fort to the Apa River:

Pyrrhua frontalis (maroon-bellied parakeet) = 1 (near river)

Ara chloropterus (red-and-green macaw) = 2

All feeding in same tree:

Psittacra leucophthalmus (white-eyed parakeet) = 2

Brotogeris chiriri (yellow-chevroned parakeet) = 4+

Eupsittula aurea (peach-fronted parakeet) = 2+

All feeding in same tree:

Amazona aestiva (turquoise-fronted amazon parrot) = 2

Pionus maximilia (scaly-headed parrot) = 5

White-eyed parakeet (above), yellow-chevroned parakeet (below) and peach-fronted parakeet (two below) all feeding in same tree

Counting parrots along the Apa River that divides Paraguay and Brazil

After this count we headed to the school in San Carlos, where we were enthusiastically received by more than 60 students and teachers. We spent time doing this, well first because it is fun and, second, because education and raising awareness is the part of any conservation approach.

San Carlos students and teachers "flying free" with the parrots

Leaving San Carlos and Paso Bravo, I am left with the impression that this area has several opportunities to cherish and protect parrots. I'm dreaming now that the fort could be an education, training, and consciousness raising center, with information for the public, as well as regular parrot counts performed. But there is also the nightmare that this park, and others, though rich reserves of Paraguayan nature, are under threat from illegal deforestation and land use, as well as poaching. So much has already been lost, as indicated by the landscapes denuded of large trees and parrots.

We need to go beyond this initial survey and impressions, and any defeatist refrain of "it's no use," to return to the area to pinpoint “hot spots” where birds are still foraging, nesting, and roosting, and where it might be possible to protect them from the entrenched and widespread illegal wildlife trade in the area.

We begin with dreams, and then get to work. We plan on making this so!

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