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Coming Round the Sun Through Hard Times

Updated: Feb 11, 2023

Macaws nesting in Paraguay (photo by Luis Cortez)

When working with parrots we are mindful of the earth’s rotation around the sun. We need to know when sunrise and sunset occur to do population counts and nest watches, and to keep our teams safe. Marking the length of days and the seasons informs us of when the birds will be nesting, what they will be eating, and where they might need to move for food and protection. Administratively we also mark time so we can see how our fundraising compares to our costs, and if we have accomplished the goals we set out to do for the year. With that in mind, we offer up a summary of our projects as we head into the last quarter of 2020.

Last chick to fledge in La Moskitia, Honduras, September 11, 2020

(photo by Santiago Lacuth)

La Moskitia Honduras: We registered over 138 scarlet macaw nests in La Moskitia, Honduras, a 33% increase, at least from last year. Our last scarlet macaw chick fledged on September 11, the latest recorded since we began working here 10 years ago. This year we registered our first great green macaw nests, a species that is even more endangered in Honduras than the scarlet macaw. We now have a several-months break from the 8-month breeding season, during which we will do our annual population counts and equipment repair. Communities experienced illness and much restriction of movement to the only town in the area, and we are still having a hard time getting funds to them. Our partners are INCEBIO (Honduras Biologic Investigation Organization), Wildlife Conservation Society, FINZMOS (indigenous territory federation), and many local communities in the area.

On the way to counting parrots last week, Guanaja Island (photo by Anuar Romero)

Pacific Island of Honduras, Guanaja: Our partners conducted a very successful nest monitoring and nest protection program and just finished their annual parrot population count on September 13. It appears that the population is significantly increasing. Our main partner is Green Island Challenge.

One of the counting points, Guanaja Island (photo by Anuar Romero)

Pacific Coast of Honduras: We are renewing our collaboration with Cuerpo de Conservation Omoa. This organization will be combining training and community involvement this week to count the parrots in their area that borders with Guatemala, where we also work with partners to monitor and protect the yellow-headed parrot.

Pacific Coast of Guatemala: Some of the yellow-headed parrots in our project fledged here in May, although the pandemic made protecting the nests challenging because movements were restricted. Therefore, we had significant poaching in this area of chicks from their nests for the illegal wildlife trade. Partners are CONAP, and local communities.

Atlantic Coast of Guatemala: In Southern Guatemala, we documented several yellow-naped amazon nests with chicks that successfully fledged and our annual count indicates that the population is increasing (though very slowly)! We helped establish the first ever rescue center just for this species in Guatemala. Restriction of people's movements meant we couldn't do our annual count the same way as in years past, or monitor nests as thoroughly, but our teams did a great job of doing nearly all the work as originally scheduled. Our partners include COLORES (consortium of organizations and individuals aligned for parrot protection), CONAP (governmental authority with wildlife), and multiple ranches and parks.

Ometepe Island, Nicaragua: Here, too, we are in a short, restful time after the breeding season has ended (it stretches from October to May). We just completed the annual parrot count in our four conservation areas in July and August. The work here was not hampered by the pandemic, though illness and worry were all around. Our partners are Fauna and Flora International, Biometepe, and the local communities.

Karasabai Village, Guyana: We have documented successfully fledged nests of sun parakeets in Guyana, a first for our project there! Currently the village is on complete lockdown, with some illness and deaths, and we were not able to monitor nests in September. We might not be able to do the annual parrot population survey in November, nor have Dr. Joyner visit.

Sun parakeet nesting cavity in Guyana (photo by Andrew Albert)

Sloth Island Resort, Guyana: Due to the pandemic we have not been able to further develop this business’ partnership with the local communities for the protection of Parrot Island. We plan to do so as soon as the pandemic eases.

Working with school children who live near Parrot Island, Guyana

Rewa Village, Guyana: We have continued our monthly parrot counts in the village and at the ecolodge, and for the first year ever, have documented the breeding season of macaws and successful fledgings. Illness from the pandemic has come to their community, however they have been able to continue working.

Parrot Conservation, Suriname: We had planned to further develop the work here in person in October of 2020, but due to the pandemic Dr. Joyner is unable to travel there. Instead, we will be partnering with Conservation International to hold a virtual parrot workshop in the coming month.

French Guiana and Brazil: Due to the pandemic we will not be able to directly develop our parrot conservation collaborations in these countries, but keep in contact so that as soon as the pandemic eases, we can continue population monitoring in French Guiana and sun parakeet protection in Brazil.

Concepcion, Paraguay: We began our second year of nest monitoring and protection in August, and currently many parrot species are on their nests. We mostly focus our attention on the endangered macaw species: red-and-green, blue-and-yellow, and hyacinth. Our field manager had to self-quarantine for several days before working with the various ranches in the area. We are also working with groups in the capital city of Asuncion to deter road building through one of the reserves. Our partners are CON Paraguay, Guyra, and several ranches and Arrecife Reserve.

Parrot Conservation Corps: One Earth Conservation began this year-long, monthly virtual program with 18 students in August. We are pleased to announce that we have also expanded our volunteer Project Assistant Program as a means to help people and parrots where they are from where we are.

We find that we have more work than ever before, despite the pandemic, and the care of our planet and its beings seems more urgent than ever before. There is no doubt that hard times have come to so many people in this year of 2020. Our parrots continue to experience the hardship of an extraction economy that takes from local communities what is theirs, so what is extracted can become someone else’s far away.

As Wendell Berry says in his poem, Vision:

If we will have the wisdom to survive, to stand like slow-growing trees

on a ruined place, renewing, enriching it,

then a long time after we are dead…

The abundance of this place, the songs of its people and its birds,

will be health and wisdom and indwelling light.

This is no paradisal dream.

Its hardship is its possibility

Thank you for helping One Earth Conservation to make the dream of a good life for people and parrots a possibility! Please join us, so that hard times come again no more.



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