Monday, September 2, 2013

Endangered Puerto Rican Parrot Rebounds With Strong Numbers

The populations of endangered parrot species has been on the decline in recent years. Scientists believe this is the result of several different factors, including the destruction of rainforests, increased predatory animals, and the formation of new avian diseases. But there's good news in the midst of this turmoil: one of the world's most endangered parrots -- native to Puerto Rico -- is seeing a strong comeback.

The Puerto Rican Parrot

Not long ago, the number of these parrots fell to just 13, placing them on the brink of extinction. Scientists have dubbed this colorful and intelligent species of Amazon parrots as the "Puerto Rican parrot," which is the perfect namesake since they are the island nation's one and only parrot. Like other Amazon parrots, Puerto Rican parrots are medium-sized birds that possess colorful plumage.

Conservation Efforts

Thanks to headstrong conservation efforts by the local government, the Puerto Rican parrot is seeing strong numbers once again. Although they are still being closely monitored to ensure their population doesn't drop, there are an estimated 400 Puerto Rican parrots living on the island nation. Scientists recently discovered a huge nest consisting of dozens of Puerto Rican parrot eggs in the Rio Abajo Nature Preserve. "This is a huge step. It shows the population can sustain itself," said researcher Gustavo Olivieri.

Over 50 Puerto Rican parrots were born in captivity this year, which is a record amount for the endangered species. Scientists plan to have more than 100 in captivity by the end of the year, allowing them to closely monitor their behavior, health and any other issues that may arise. Researchers close to the project have already released some of these specimens back into the wild with GPS tracking devices, allowing them to see exactly where they go.

It's estimated that over 1 million Puerto Rican parrots inhabited the island during the early 1800s. However, once this land was colonized, over 90% of their habitat was wiped clean, forcing them on the brink of extinction. Their numbers continued to dwindle over the years until there were only a shocking 13 left in 1975. Scientists took notice of the Puerto Rican parrots shockingly low numbers and began conservation efforts to bring the population numbers back into the green. A new program as founded in the 70s to breed Puerto Rican parrots and release them into the wild. Although their numbers are still considered low, the Puerto Rican parrot is seeing a strong rebound that's sure to grow in the years to come.

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