Updated: Feb 11
In August I spent time with the vinaceous-breasted amazon (Amazona vinacea) in Paraguay. I was invited to co-facilitate a count of the species by Itaipu Binacional, a corporation formed between Brazil and Paraguay to oversee the electrical production from the Itaipu Dam on the Parana River. We centered our efforts at one of their reserves where the greatest number of this endangered amazon exists in the country, of which we thought there may only be around 100 left.
Victor leading the count on day 1
More of the team counting, captaining the boat, and always ready to share snacks and stories and marvel at the bird's behavior, such as the parrots looking for nests below (photo by Dr. Andrés Álvarez)
The counting team was made up of staff from One Earth Conservation, the technical team and park rangers of the Division of Protected Areas of Itaipu Binacional led by Victor Martinez, and volunteers Oscar Rodriguez of Nature Observers Club of Paraguay (CON) and Paraguay Birding & Nature Tours and Marcos Saldivar of CON. Arising some days at 1:30 a.m., 16 of us counted 9 different transects each morning and night for 5.5 days.
The counting team included children from the local village (photo by Dr. Diana Pesole)
We counted on land
And we counted by boat
We counted from before sunrise...
And we counted until well after sunset
We were pleasantly surprised to tabulate that the Minimum Number of Distinct Individuals (MNDI) was higher than we expected, and that the percentage of juveniles present was 10% (which means that there are successful nests producing young in this park or adjoining areas). We do not know the total number of this species in Paraguay, because we did not simultaneously count the other locations where they are seen.
We covered a lot of the reserve by boat and saw many birds, and not just the vinaceous-breasted amazon (photos below by Oscar Rodriguez)
We saw so many beautiful things, and hard things as well, such as this tree that died from flooding and then was poached to take parrot chicks for the illegal wildlife trade
Offsetting the wonder of such a fantastic team of parrot conservationists and an incredibly precious species, was the vista of the flooded Parana River basin, which due to drought, was now at historic lows. The specter of dead trees accompanied all of our days. There was also the constant threat of crashing our boats into some of the dead trees during the dark hours when we traveled to our counting sites. Thank goodness we have such competent captains and teams.
Sunrise over the reserve
Wine, for which this species of parrot is named due to its wine-colored breast, was considered in Rome the drink of the gods and it was thought that consuming wine led to longevity or immortality. May the work of such a committed team lead to the longevity and flourishing of this precious species in Paraguay.
Thank you team and good luck this month during the National Parrot Count in Paraguay. If you’d like to be part of this count, or other aspects of parrot conservation, please do not hesitate to contact us at email@example.com.