Scientists work to keep wild Puerto Rican parrot after Maria

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    On this Nov. 6, 2018 photo, Puerto Rican parrots huddle in one in every of the flight cages situated within the facilities of the Iguaca Aviary at El Yunque, maintain been the U.S. Fish & Natural world Carrier runs a parrot recovery program in collaboration with the U.S. Forest Carrier and the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico. Biologists are attempting to keep the last of the endangered Puerto Rican parrots after more than 1/2 the population of birds disappeared when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico and destroyed their habitat and meals sources. (AP Listing/Carlos Giusti)

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    This Nov. 6, 2018 photo, shows one in every of the mountains surrounding the Iguaca Aviary in El Yunque, where Puerto Rican parrots are appeared after by the U.S. Fish & Natural world Carrier, has section of a parrot recovery program in collaboration with the U.S. Forest Carrier and the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico. Most high-quality two of the fifty six wild birds that once lived there survived the Class four storm that pummeled the U.S. territory in September 2017. (AP Listing/Carlos Giusti)

EL YUNQUE, Puerto Rico – Biologists are attempting to keep the last of the endangered Puerto Rican parrots after more than 1/2 the population of the lustrous green birds with turquoise-tipped wings disappeared when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico and destroyed their habitat and meals sources.

In the tropical woodland of El Yunque, finest two of the fifty six wild birds that once lived there survived the Class four storm that pummeled the U.S. territory in September 2017. Meanwhile, finest four of 31 wild birds in a woodland within the western town of Maricao survived, in conjunction with Seventy five out of 134 wild parrots residing within the Rio Abajo woodland within the central mountains of Puerto Rico, scientists acknowledged.

And while lots of dozen fresh parrots maintain been born in captivity and within the wild since Maria, the species is easy in chance, in step with scientists.

“Now we maintain heaps of work to function,” acknowledged Gustavo Olivieri, parrot recovery program coordinator for Puerto Rico’s Department of Natural Resources.

Federal and native scientists will meet subsequent month to debate how finest to revive a species that numbered more than 1 million within the 1800s nevertheless dwindled to 13 birds all over the Seventies after decades of woodland clearing.

The U.S. and Puerto Rican governments launched a program in 1972 that at last resulted in the creation of three breeding centers. Ideal weeks forward of Maria hit, scientists reported fifty six wild birds at El Yunque, the finest since the program changed into launched.

But the population decline is now in particular worrisome for the reason that parrots that vanished from El Yunque maintain been one of the most last final wild ones, acknowledged Marisel Lopez, who oversees the parrot recovery program at El Yunque for the U.S. Fish & Natural world Carrier.

“It changed into devastating. After so a few years of getting labored on this project…,” she stopped talking and sighed.

The Puerto Rican Amazon is Puerto Rico’s finest final native parrot and is one in every of roughly 30 species of Amazon parrots found within the Americas. The crimson-foreheaded birds develop to almost a foot in dimension, are identified for their secrecy and on the final mate for lifestyles, reproducing once a year.

More than 460 birds remain captive on the breeding centers in El Yunque and Rio Abajo forests, nevertheless scientists maintain now not released any of them since Hurricane Maria. A Zero.33 breeding heart in a woodland within the western rural town of Maricao has now not operated since the storm. Scientists are for certain attempting to resolve the finest ability to situation up the parrots for launch since there are such few birds within the wild they can work in conjunction with, and whether Puerto Rico’s damaged forests can retain them.

One proposal scientists will exhaust into story is whether or now not to exhaust one of the most final wild parrots within the Rio Abajo woodland and situation them into the identical cage as birds which would perchance be released into the wild, so they can learn to emulate their social behavior to plan effective their survival, acknowledged Jafet Velez, a natural world biologist with U.S. Fish & Natural world Carrier.

Scientists are tentatively planning to launch 20 birds subsequent year in Rio Abajo.

One more proposal is to launch more parrots in Maricao, which changed into now not as closely damaged by Maria.

“Our precedence now’s now not replica…it’s to start releasing them,” Lopez acknowledged, adding that breeding centers can preserve finest so many parrots.

But first, scientists need to plan effective the forests can provide meals and genuine refuge.

Jessica Ilse, a woodland biologist at el Yunque for the U.S. Forest Carrier, acknowledged scientists are collecting files in regards to the quantity of fruit falling from bushes and the different of leaves shed. She acknowledged the cover easy has now not grown relief since Maria and warned that invasive species maintain taken root since more sunlight now shines thru. Ilse acknowledged that lots of the natty bushes where parrots extinct to nest are for certain gone and eminent that it took 14 months for El Yunque’s canopy to shut after Hurricane Hugo hit Puerto Rico in 1989 as a Class three storm.

Scientists furthermore are for certain collecting fresh files on the different of predators at El Yunque, along side el guaraguao, a crimson-tailed hawk that hunts Puerto Rico parrots. And not utilizing a cover and genuine conceal, wild parrots maintain turn out to be an easy target.

Ilse acknowledged native and federal scientists map to help the woodland rep higher thru planting. By the terminate of November, they request of to maintain a blueprint detailing essentially the most damaged areas in El Yunque and a list of tree species they can plant which will be more resistant to hurricanes.

“Individuals preserve asking us, ‘How prolonged is it going to exhaust?'” Ilse acknowledged.

But scientists beget now not know, she added.

“The hurt is more intensive than (hurricanes) Hugo and Georges…It has been a complete swap to the ecosystem.”