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Adult and juvenile Blue-throated Macaws on nest box at Laney Rickman Reserve (Márton Hardy – Asociación Armonía)

(Santa Cruz, Bolivia, June 28th 2019) A record number of Critically Endangered Blue-throated Macaw chicks fledged from nest boxes at Asociación Armonía’s Laney Rickman Blue-throated Macaw Reserve in Bolivia. Twelve chicks fledged from nest boxes during the 2018-2019 breeding season. This resulted in a total of 81 juvenile Blue-throated Macaws joining the wild adults, a significant addition to a species population that is estimated not to exceed 450 individuals. Furthermore, this is the second breeding season for the project and the second generation of Blue-throated Macaws breeding in the nest boxes has hatched.

The Blue-throated Macaw is only found in one place on earth – the Beni Savanna of Bolivia. This bird species has been declining for the last century due to habitat loss, and in the 1980s its population was decimated to near extinction by the international pet trade. Asociación Armonía has been running a successful nest box program in the Laney Rickman Blue-throated Macaw Reserve. In August 2018 – with the support of four leading conservation groups – American Bird Conservancy, International Conservation Fund of Canada, IUCN Netherlands, and World Land Trust Armonía purchased the area. This 1,680 acres (680 ha) of protected savanna and tropical forest is named after Laney Slator Rickman, an avid supporter of the macaws.

Adult Blue-throated Macaw feeding chick at Laney Rickman Reserve in 2019

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 twenty years of hard work.    

– said Rodrigo W. Soria-Auza, Executive Director of Asociación Armonía.

In the 2017/18 breeding season, for the first time ever, a pair of macaws that fledged from the nest boxes returned to breed themselves in the nest boxes, completing the cycle and demonstrating the program’s long-term success.

A Blue-throated Macaw pair returns to breed in our nest boxes in 2019 (Márton Hardy – Asociación Armonía)

In the Beni Savannah the high frequency and magnitude of human-induced fires used to stimulate new grass growth have frequently eradicated trees that the Blue-throated Macaw uses for nesting. To facilitate the reproduction of Blue-throated Macaws, in 2005 Armonía installed the initial 20 artificial nest boxes south of Trinidad within the municipality of Loreto. After 13 breeding seasons, and a total of 80 nest boxes set up today, 81 Blue-throated Macaws have fledged from the nest boxes.

 “This is a bright result of a common effort. 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.”

– added Bennett Hennessy, Development Director of Armonía.  

With support from World Land Trusts’ Keepers of the Wild Program, Armonía hired reserve ranger César Flores, a longtime local expert on nest boxes who worked on the program for decades and himself developed and fabricated nest boxes.

Cesar Flores, ranger of Laney Rickman Reserve. He designs and produce nest boxes for the macaws. (Rodrigo W. Soria Auza – Asociación Armonía)

Today a total of 80 nest boxes awaiting the breeding macaws at the two reserves of Armonía: Barba Azul Nature Reserve protecting the north western- while Laney Rickman Blue-throated Macaw protects the southern population of the Blue-throated Macaw. With these two reserves the species is protected in 28,862 acres (11,680 ha).

At the Laney Rickman Blue-throated Macaw Reserve we established a safe haven for the breeding population of the Blue-throated Macaw. Armonía’s next goal is to provide local education through the establishment of an interpretation center where school groups and local visitors can see this rare and magnificent species as well as understanding its national and local importance.

– added Tjalle Boorsma Conservation Program Director for Armonía.

To honor and protect Laney’s legacy, her family, the Bird Endowment, Asociación Armonía, and American Bird Conservancy established the Laney Rickman Blue-throated Macaw Fund.  Donations are welcome and provide vital long-term support for the Nido Adoptivo™ nest box program as well as habitat conservation and reserve management as needed to help save the Blue-throated Macaw. To donate for the nest box program, click here.

Blue-throated Macaw pair at Laney Rickman Reserve. (Márton Hardy – Asociación Armonía)

Expert Contact: Bennett Hennessey | Developement Director, Asociación Armonía

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The following donors provided major support for its international program and blue-throated macaw project:

American Bird Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation. Find us on abcbirds.orgFacebookInstagram, and Twitter (@abcbirds).

Asociación Armonía is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of birds and their natural habitat in Bolivia. Armonía’s conservation actions are based on scientific studies and active involvement of local communities, respecting their culture and knowledge. Asociación Armonía is the Bolivian key partner of American Bird Conservancy, BirdLife International, ICFC, and World Land Trust. Find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

ARTIS Royal ZOO Amsterdam: ARTIS Amsterdam Royal Zoo was the first zoo to be established in the Netherlands, and it’s located right in the centre of Amsterdam. It’s a place where nature and cultural heritage come together; a place where history has been created since 1838 and where new stories are created daily.

International Conservation Fund of Canada advances the long-term preservation of nature and biodiversity in the tropics and other priority areas worldwide.

IUCN Netherlands is the Dutch national committee of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the world’s largest and most diverse environmental network. Our mission is to influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable.

World Land Trust is an international conservation charity that works to protect the world’s most biologically significant and threatened habitats acre by acre. Through a network of partner organizations around the world, WLT funds the creation of reserves and provides permanent protection for habitats and wildlife. Partnerships are developed with established and highly respected local organizations who engage support and commitment among the local community. Sir David Attenborough is a patron.

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