Saving the Blues™

Laney S. Rickman

Abstract


Concerned people in the United States now have a far more accessible opportunity to assume an important role in the conservation efforts for the critically endangered Blue-throated Macaws in Bolivia.

To help in Saving the BluesDin Bolivia, Bird Endowment's exclusive new El Beni-Factor Nido AdoptivoD program provides participants the opportunity of a regular IRS deduction for donating to the U.S. 501 (c)(3) non-profit (mostly unavailable when made directly to foreign organizations), while avoiding government scrutiny associated with supporting foreign organizations.

Nido Adoptivop a nest box adoption program, was developed in a cooperative effort between Bird Endowment, recognized for its efforts in captive breeding conservation of the Blue-throated Macaw and Armenia I Laro Parque Fundacion Blue-throated Macaw Conservation Program, the primary recovery agent for the wild macaws in Bolivia.

 Each participant in the Nido Adoptivooprogram will be honored as a Beni-FactorD Additionally, this year's donors ($250 for each Nido Adoptive p will be honored in future years as Founders of the annual program.

Armenia and Laro Parque Fundacion were the driving force behind completion of the Blue-throated Macaw Species Recovery Plan. As part of that Species Recovery Plan's priority actions, 20 wooden nest boxes were placed in the Loreto area for the 2005/6 breeding season.

The loss of suitable tree nesting cavities appeared to be a limiting factor for the populations of hole nesting birds in lowland Bolivian savannahs, particularly the Blue-throated Macaw in the Beni Department, A. Bennett Hennessey, executive director of Asociacion Armenia, told the Bird Endowment's Laney Rickman. He suspects years of grass burning, cattle foraging, past cavity destruction by poachers and human hardwood usage are responsible for the severely limited number of ideal nest cavities in the range.

The boxes were an immediate success, with various species of macaws (and some ducks) possessing the boxes right away. Of the 20 boxes, one was hijacked by wasps and 18 were used by birds; 13 by Blue-and-yellow Macaws, Ara ararauna, three by White-eyed Parakeets, Aratinga leucophthalmus, one by Chestnut-fronted Macaws, A. severus (later expelled by Blue-and-yellow Macaws), and one by Blue-throated Macaws, which laid two eggs. However, the Blue-throated Macaw nest was unsuccessful, possibly because of predation by Toco Toucans, Ramphastos taco, and the box was later used by Blueand-yellow Macaws.

On four occasions there was nest site competition between the Blue-throated Macaw and the Blue-andyellow Macaw (the Blue-and-yellow Macaw always won the site).

IDhis high response demonstrates that adequate nest cavities are in short supply, rsavs Hennessey.

 What we previously thought, that the Motacu palm is the favorite nesting site of the macaw, now we believe is more of a last resort. The usage of the boxes appears to indicate that appropriate nesting cavities for the Blue-throated Macaw is a limiting factor in its reproduction and that the augmentation of better nesting cavities can improve the reproduction of the wild populatlon.tsays David Waugh, the Environment Director at Laro Parque Fundacion and, along with Hennessey, a program supervisor of the joint Bluethroated effort in Bolivia.

tfl in every ten boxes we can help one pair of Blue-throated Macaws breed, then we have made a substantial improvement to the population and the macaws..


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