Huge Boost for Endangered Yellow-eared Parrot

Yellow-eared Parrot. Photo: Proaves
Yellow-eared Parrot. Photo: Proaves

American Bird Conservancy’s Colombian partner, Fundación ProAves, has reported unprecedented progress in the conservation of the critically endangered Yellow-eared Parrot. A total of 80 natural and artificial (nest boxes) parrot nests were monitored by ProAves staff in the 2008 breeding season, which ended with the successful fledging of 203 chicks.

 

The parrot was believed to be extinct until April 1999, when a group of researchers, sponsored by Fundación Loro Parque and a grant from American Bird Conservancy (ABC), discovered a small population of just 81 individuals in the Colombian Andes. ProAves has been working ever since, with the help of Fundación Loro Parque and ABC, to recover the species, making this year’s figures an extremely welcome sign. The Colombian Yellow-eared Parrot population has now climbed to more than 1,000 individuals. ProAves is now recommending downlisting of the species from Critically Endangered to Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

 

ProAves’ efforts have centered on habitat conservation with a strong educational component. The parrot’s nesting and foraging habitat is comprised entirely of the highly threatened Quindió wax palm, Colombia’s national tree, which has been cut down at unprecedented rates in recent years both to make way for agriculture, and to provide palm fronds for Easter celebrations. Thanks to a national TV and radio outreach campaign, religious demand for the wax palm fronds has been shifted significantly in favor of a non-threatened, non-native palm, allowing the Quindío palm to recover.

 

ProAves has also erected numerous nest boxes to supplement the natural tree cavities, which has helped in the parrot’s recovery. Most significantly, the Yellow-eared Parrot is now expanding its range, returning to areas it historically inhabited before its habitat was destroyed.

 

“ProAves is very grateful to ABC and Fundación Loro Parque for making this project such a success, and who continue to support this important work,” said Sara Lara, Executive Director of ProAves. “We hope to be able to report on further strong progress in coming years, and look forward to the time when the Yellow-eared Parrot is a common sight across the Andes of Colombia and Ecuador.”