Military macaws are among the most sought-after species of parrot across Mexico to be used in the illicit pet trade. While poachers are willing to accept macaws of all ages however, nestlings are among the most at risk. The methods they employ to attract these young birds can be devastating in many different ways.Green Birds
Military macaws build their
nests in cavities that are high up in trees. To access a nest poachers often take down the entire tree. This is an act that puts nestlings at risk, and also destroys the healthy nesting environment to the species. Three months ago, I teamed up with researchers in Puerto Vallarta to start a nest monitoring program. Through a close eye on a particular group of nests, researchers could gather crucial data on these birds that live in the wild. If poachers were aware that the nests were being monitored by scientists, they’d not be as likely target.
In this year’s edition, we’re pleased to announce that we have closed the third season of success of the project with a bang! MS Carlos Bonilla and his team of researchers were able to observe 22 nests in the course of the season. Of these, 14 were successfully reared by parents until they fled the nest. The nests were not was snatched by traffickers. The result was 15 young macaws left their nests with their parents.
It’s not that there weren’t some obstacles. One poacher wanted to steal the nest with an open hole in the tree that would allow him to determine the most appropriate time to steal the nest. However, due to the awareness and education campaign we’ve supported in the community, residents were able to help the team of researchers find the potential poacher and convince him to not pursue the plan. The nest was ultimately successful and the baby macaw has now escaped with his parents.
Another poacher who robbed
nests of macaws a few years ago was seen returning to the region. However, again, the local community aided authorities in tracking him down and he was detained before any macaws were captured. The poacher was already capturing several orange-fronted parrots.
The authorities from the environmental department seized the parakeets and took away traps and nets, then handed over the poacher to appropriate legal authorities to be prosecuted.Since we began working with this program, 33 macaws are part of the family, and none of the monitored nests has been taken.
Making Room for More Nests
A common issue macaws are faced with is the lack of suitable nests. Macaws aren’t able to build their own nests, therefore they make use of older homes or naturally-occurring cavities within trees, however there’s only so many of them – and even fewer as nesting tree nests are taken. The macaws have also inherited nest integrity meaning that the same couple will use the same nest every year.
This means that new couples of macaws to wait for years until a nest is vacant. It is clear that if we wish to increase the number of wild macaws in the wild, we require more nests. We also took part in a project to create and construct synthetic nests of the military macaws in Puerto Vallarta.
Making artificial nests isn’t an absolute guarantee. It usually takes a few years before wild parrots accept the nests. By then, they may be taken by killer bees, or different animals or destroyed by the weather. However, this year we saw something extraordinary. The project created nine artificial nests and macaw pairs adopted one of the six nests! The nests were occupied in this very early was wonderful and helped to create four nests that succeeded in raising chicks which they might otherwise not be able to rear.