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Species Recovery? Puerto Rican Parrots and 'Too Many Eggs'

Oct 15, 2015 05:02 PM EDT
Puerto Rican parrot
Up from 13 parrots in the early 1970s, the Puerto Rican parrot, endemic to that island, now numbers at around 500 birds in a recovery program. The third population of the birds was recently established in a park there.
(Photo : Flickr: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service)

The Puerto Rican parrot, Amazona vittata, hovered near extinction for many years, starting in the early 1970s, when the species numbered at 13 in the world.

Now, the conservation program in Puerto Rico, which officially began in 1973, has a problem: Too many eggs.
"We have been too successful at breeding them. We are bursting at the seams with birds," said Ricardo Valentin, project leader on the Bureau of Fish and Wildlife's Puerto Rican parrot restoration program, according to an update on the National Wildlife Federation website. 

Indeed, the numbers are pretty decent compared with the species' past: Now there are 200 birds in each of two breeding programs, and the agencies involved in the restoration recently transferred 30 of the parrots to the Maricao Commonwealth Forest, to start a third population of the still endangered species, as a release confirmed.

The birds for the transfer were bred in the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources aviary, in the Rio Abajo Commonwealth Forest in Utuado, Puerto Rico; and in the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service aviary in El Yunque National Forest, on the island's east side, said the release.

"The transfer of these parrots to Maricao State Forest is a multi-year effort aimed from staff of the three agencies and other partners, which today involves a historic step in the program of the Puerto Rican Parrot Recovery, recognized as one of the most successful worldwide for endangered species," said Guerrero Perez in the release.

For one thing, the transfer means that the birds will still be interconnected with the other two populations on the island.
At this point, the program has more than 500 of the parrots in the aviaries or in the wild, as the release confirmed.

If you'd like to hear more about the program, see the blog of project leader Ricardo Valentin.

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

-Follow Catherine on Twitter @TreesWhales

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