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Chris Merkord

Surprise Puerto Rican Parrots hatched in the wild

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From the Birding Community E-bulletin, September 2014:

 

Two endangered Puerto Rican parrots were recently hatched for the first time in 144 years in a natural nest found outside El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico. A number of these rare parrots hatched in the wild in western Puerto Rico, reaching a high this year of 16 birds, with two of those at the natural nest and the remainder in artificial nests placed in the wild. In addition, there were 46 parrots born in captivity this year at the Rio Abajo Nature Preserve compared with 51 last year.

Perhaps more than a million Puerto Rican parrots were once thought to exist in the 1800s, but the population plummeted to a paltry 13 birds in the wild by 1975. This followed decades of forest clearing to plant citrus, coffee, and sugar cane. Fortunately, parrot numbers have since rebounded, with 409 parrots existing in captivity and an estimated 75 to 142 now living in the wild.

According to the island's Natural Resources Secretary, Carmen Guerrero, "scientists discovered the [recent] nest in May near the Rio Abajo Nature Preserve in western Puerto Rico and monitored it with cameras until they saw the parrots take flight in late July."

Puerto Rican authorities are now working alongside U.S. officials to build a third breeding center in the western Puerto Rican town of Maricao, with plans to release 20 to 25 parrots by December 2015. Cynthia Doher, with the USFWS, said that "the aim is to have a self-sufficient parrot population that does not require human intervention."

More details from an AP story can be found here: http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/official-puerto-rico-parrot-births-mark-comeback-25136929

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