American Bird Conservancy Land Acquisitions Protect Threatened Birds in Five Countries

Recently, American Bird Conservancy has assisted several of its partners in South America with land purchases that expand key reserves established for the protection of some of the continent’s most imperiled species, including the El Oro Parakeet, Ochre-fronted Antpitta, Golden-tailed Parrotlet, and Black-fronted Piping-Guan.


Cerulean Warbler. Photo: Stuart Elsom

American Bird Conservancy’s Colombian partner, Fundación ProAves, has purchased 2,861 acres of land to create the Reserva Natural Pauxi pauxi. The new reserve is named after the scientific name of the threatened Helmeted Curassow, and is located nine miles northwest of the existing Cerulean Warbler Bird Reserve, in Cerro de la Paz, Santander Department. Both reserves were developed with ABC support to protect habitat that sustains threatened resident birds and high densities of Neotropical migrants, especially the Cerulean Warbler.


Importantly, in addition to large numbers of Cerulean Warblers and at least 24 other species of migrants, the two reserves are remarkably rich in Neotropical resident species. More than 340 bird species have been recorded in the reserves, including threatened species such as the critically endangered Chestnut-bellied Hummingbird, and the endangered Gorgeted Wood-Quail, White-mantled Barbet, Black Inca, and Mountain Grackle.


El Oro Parakeets. Photo: Fundación Jocotoco

ProAves is now turning its sights to the further development of the reserves. With support from ABC and the Amos W. Butler Audubon Society, ProAves has just purchased two new properties to expand the Pauxi pauxi Reserve by a further 246 acres, and is also working with landowners to create a “Cerulean Warbler Conservation Corridor” between the reserves. Conservation easements with the land owners are being drawn up to manage their lands in a bird-friendly way, such as through maintenance of existing tracts of forest and keeping coffee and cacao in shade.


In Ecuador, during the first part of 2008, American Bird Conservancy’s partner, Fundación Jocotoco, added properties to its chain of southern reserves, popular with bird-watchers because of their close proximity to each other and their large numbers of rare species. In January, 200 acres were added to the Buenaventura Reserve for the protection of the endangered El Oro Parakeet, bringing the reserve size to nearly 5,000 acres.


In March, nearly 125 acres were purchased at the Jorupe Reserve, which now totals approximately 3,000 acres. The site protects Tumbesian dry forest, an imperiled forest type found in southwestern Ecuador and northwestern Peru. Species of note include the endangered Slaty Becard and Blackish-headed Spinetail. Also in March, 125 acres were purchased at the Tapichalaca Reserve, adding land the foundation had been trying to acquire for many years along the main road into the reserve. Tapichalaca is one of Jocotoco’s flagship reserves and is the site where the endangered Jocotoco Antpitta was discovered.


Long-whiskered Owlet. Photo: ECOAN

In Peru, American Bird Conservancy has been working closely with Asociación Ecositemas Andinos (ECOAN) for nearly four years on the development of the Abra Patricia-Alto Nieva Reserve. Abra Patricia has been identified by the Alliance for Zero Extinction as essential for the protection of the endangered Ochre-fronted Antpitta and supports a population of the elusive Long-whiskered Owlet. The reserve also protects the western border of the Alto Mayo Protection Forest, which is threatened by deforestation and conversion to agriculture. ECOAN is working to protect in-holdings as well as sites along the road that bisects the reserve. Three tracts totaling 150 acres were added, two with the support of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and ConocoPhilips, and a third with the support of IUCN-Netherlands and the Netherlands Postcode Lottery. The reserve now covers over 6,670 acres. A lodge has been constructed to assist in the long-term financing of the reserve, and is now receiving its first birding tourists.


In the highly threatened Atlantic Forest region, 100 acres were added to the Guapi Assu Ecological Reserve (REGUA), Brazil, an important area for many threatened Atlantic forest species, such as the White-mantled Hawk and Golden-tailed Parrotlet. This is the first part of a larger land acquisition project that will add 1,400 acres to the reserve, of which American Bird Conservancy will support the acquisition of 650 acres.


In Paraguay, where almost all Atlantic Forest has been lost, American Bird Conservancy helped Guyra Paraguay purchase 1,235 acres in San Rafael, adding to the 15,300 acres that they have already protected. San Rafael holds threatened species such as the vulnerable Vinaceous Amazon and the endangered Black-fronted Piping-Guan.