Record sighting of 155 Blue-throated Macaws confirms steady population growth at Barba Azul Nature Reserve

In October 2017, reserve coordinator Tjalle Boorsma sighted a record number of 155 Blue-throated Macaws at a newly discovered roosting location at Barba Azul Nature Reserve. The sighting of large flocks confirms a steady increase of the population of this Critically Endangered macaw at our reserve.

The Blue-throated Macaw is an endemic species to the Beni Savanna in northern Bolivia, whose population is estimated around 250-300 individuals remaining in the wild. The Blue-throated Macaw was pushed on the verge of extinction by habitat loss and illegal pet trade. In 2008 – with the support of our partners – Armonía created the first protected area for the macaw at Barba Azul Nature Reserve.

Record sighting of 155 Blue-throated Macaws confirms steady population growth at Barba Azul Nature Reserve

Nearly a decade on, our conservation effort to protect key roosting and feeding grounds of the Blue-throated Macaw are yielding significant results. Sightings in the past nine years confirmed a steady increase in the Blue-throated Macaw population at Barba Azul.

In 2016 Dutch researchers registered 118 Blue-throated Macaws at Barba Azul, a record to be broken by this year’s sightings of 155 individual by reserve coordinator Tjalle Boorsma.

“The birds came in to the roost in flocks of 15-20 individuals. Soon I realized this was the single most important sighting of Blue-throated Macaws in the Reserve.”

  • recalls reserve coordinator Tjalle Boorsma.

During the latest Blue-throated Macaw sightings we observed a significant number of juvenile individuals, a clear indication of the successful breeding of the species.

“This record sighting of Blue-throated Macaws confirms that the species shows a positive population trend during the last decade” – added Boorsma.

On the 11 000 acres of Barba Azul Nature reserve Armonía successfully protects important roosting and feeding grounds of the species. Diminishing motacu palm dominated islands has been reforested, providing the macaws with their favorite food and roosting sites.

From October to November large number of Blue-throated Macaws can be observed at Barba Azul Nature Reserve, where sightings of 50 plus birds are frequently observed by birdwatchers and researchers.

Despite the huge amount of scientific data collected about these rare birds, a key question was to be answered. Where our birds breed? The question was answered this March, when our expedition discovered new nesting area of the species 70 miles North from Barba Azul Nature Reserve. This was major step towards ensuring the full lifecycle protection of the Blue-throated Macaw. As we know where the birds nest, we can works successfully to protect and restore its habitat.

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The Blue-throated Macaw program has achieved great successes, but must continue its conservation efforts to secure the protection of the macaw forever. The program urgently needs support to fund the nest box program and to conduct nationwide education programs on the illegal trade that continues in Bolivia. If you would like to support the Blue-throated Macaw program – to save this emblematic species and a wealth of other wildlife – please donate.

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