Above: Time to fledge: the parent blue-throated macaws encouraging their young to leave the nest-box and explore the reserve. Photo: Asociación Armonía


THE 2018-2019 BREEDING season has seen a record number of Critically Endangered blue-throated macaw chicks (Ara glaucogularis) fledge.

This species has been in decline for the past century due to habitat loss and in the 1980s its population was decimated to near extinction by the international pet trade.

In 2018, Asociación Armonía (AA) set up the Laney Rickman Blue-throated Macaw Reserve in 1,680 acres (680 ha) of protected savanna and tropical forest in Bolivia. And this year, 12 chicks have fledged there from specially designed nest-boxes.

This has brought numbers up to 81 juveniles, which have joined the wild adults in the reserve. It is believed that there are less than 450 blue-throated macaws in the wild, which are endemic to the Beni Savanna in Bolivia.

“We see macaws that fledged from our nest-boxes returning to breed in these artificial nests in numbers never seen before. This means that adults are identifying the nest-boxes as safe places to breed, while juveniles are copying the habit from their parents. We are witnessing the results of 20 years of hard work,” said Rodrigo W. Soria-Auza, executive director of AA .

This year’s breeding success at the reserve is particularly poignant, as this only the second breeding season for the project and so the second generation of blue-throated macaws breeding in the nest-boxes.

Tjalle Boorsma, conservation programme director for AA explained its plans for the future: “Armonía’s next goal is to provide local education through the establishment of an interpretation centre where school groups and local visitors can see this rare and magnificent species as well as understanding its national and local importance.”

While the Laney Rickman reserve protects the southern population of this species, there are also nest-boxes at the Barba Azul Nature Reserve, north-west of the country. With these two reserves, the species is protected over 28,862 acres (11,680 ha).

Bennett Hennessy, development director of AA, said: “This is a perfect example of what local conservationists can achieve with support from global partners.

“Now we have the most important portion of the macaws breeding habitat under full protection.”

To help support the AA project, visit: https://abcbirds.org/donate-armonia

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