First population survey of Critically Endangered Blue-throated Macaws

There is no scientifically sound data on population size and trends of Blue-throated Macaws

There is no scientifically sound data on population size and trends of Blue-throated Macaws

New reliable data on global population size and trends is helping the conservation this Critically Endangered species.

As the dry season draws to an end in the Beni Savannas of northern Bolivia, the Blue-throated Macaw gets ready for the breeding season and begin their amazing mating spectacle.

Blue-throated Macaws live in the Beni Savannas of Bolivia – they are found nowhere else on Earth. There are thought to be less than 300 individuals in the wild, but before now there has been no sound data on population size and trends.

Last August, conservationists from Armonía conducted the first ever systematic survey to obtain reliable global population size estimates of Blue-throated Macaw, thanks to support from the Loro Parque Fundación.

Population results

barba-azul-nature-reserve-blue-throated-macaw-armonia-bolivia

There are thought to be less than 300 individuals in the wild

The team here at Armonía surveyed the three different regions where the macaws are found and the results will form the basis for future population monitoring and trend estimates.

In 2008, we created the world’s first protected area for the macaw: the Barba Azul Nature Reserve. The survey results showed that the reserve had the highest count of 72 birds, which roost at the far end of Barba Azul North. There was a constant group of around 40 to 50 individuals foraging at the main forest islands of Isla Barba Azul. The reserve manager, responsible for the survey, witnessed clear daily patterns of foraging, resting and roosting.

Safe breeding

Blue-throated Macaw chicks in their nest box

Blue-throated Macaw chicks in their nest box

One of the threats facing the species is the lack of nesting sites. Although Blue-throated Macaws spend half the year foraging and roosting in the Barba Azul Nature Reserve, they do not breed in the safety of the protected area. Instead, the pairs tended to disperse widely throughout the region’s farmland in search of a suitable site.

The macaws need trees with large cavities in their trunks to nest within, but 150 years of intensive cattle ranching in the region has cleared most old growth, large trees. To tackle this problem, we installed artificial nest boxes and every year chicks fledge successfully.

Despite this, a problem still remains: the chicks only fledge from nest boxes located south of the Barba Azul Nature Reserve and the macaws have never bred successfully within the protected area. But we have been experimenting with the size, shape, design, material and location of the nest boxes in hope that soon they will breed within the reserve. We wait in anticipation for the next breeding season. 

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