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Thick-billed Parrot Conservation
Southwest Region, June 28, 2007
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For over twelve years, the Instituto Tecnol√≥gico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM) and Pronatura Noreste (Pronatura) have been working to study and conserve thick-billed parrots (Rhynchopsitta pachyrhyncha) at five locations in northern Mexico.  Among their accomplishments, they have studied and/or monitored parrot population size and productivity; reproductive biology; nesting habitat characteristics; and threats, both natural and human-induced.  Additionally, in conjunction with local land owners and other partners, ITESM and Pronatura have conserved or are working toward conserving critical parrot nesting areas.  More recently, they have been working with multiple partners, including Mexican and U.S. agencies, academic institutions, zoos, and NGOs to develop a thick-billed parrot conservation plan.  One component of this plan addresses re-establishing parrots in currently unoccupied areas within their historical range, including southeastern Arizona.  Specifically, it was proposed to translocate parrots to suitable, unoccupied habitat within Mexico this year, and to Arizona in 2008 (if habitat conditions are suitable).  In June, in an attempt to implement this component of the plan, two pairs of parrots were captured.  Because this number did not meet the criteria to translocate parrots to areas where none currently occur (i.e., too few), they were transported to and released at the northern-most thick-billed parrot (current) breeding site.  Before release, the parrots were radio-collared, and blood samples were taken to conduct genetic and disease tests.  Monitoring showed that the birds quickly joined this northern-most breeding population and found nesting cavities.  Within about 10 days after the release, however, the parrots flew south, back to their original capture location.  Though the translocation effort was not fully successful, it was an extremely valuable experience that will contribute to improving future translocation attempts, and to parrot conservation in general.   

Contact Info: Martin Valdez, 505-248-6599, martin_valdez@fws.gov



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