BAHAMA PARROTS: BAHAMAS NATIONAL TRUST DOCUMENTARY


BNT ABACO / INAGUA PARROT DOCUMENTARY

In August 2011 the Bahamas National Trust published a documentary about the resident Abaco and Inagua populations of this Cuban Parrot subspecies. It features research scientist Caroline Stahala, and contains plenty of information about these birds, their nesting and breeding habits, and the problems they face from predation. In places, some of the devastation caused by the extensive forest fires in March 2011 is still evident (see images in earlier POST). If you want to know more about these attractive (but noisy) birds, the documentary video below covers a great deal in 8 minutes…

THE INTRIGUING PARROTS OF GREAT ABACO ISLAND – PODCAST


A 5 minute PODCAST from ABC Radio’s ‘The Science Show’ featuring Caroline Stahala, research scientist and Abaco Parrot expert, and David Knowles of the Bahamas National Trust, Chief Park Warden for Abaco

The online report is headed by this: Holiday homes and resorts are replacing the forests in which the Bahamian parrot of Great Abaco Island breeds. When Christopher Columbus discovered the beautiful Bahamian islands in 1492, he wrote in his journal ‘the flocks of parrots obscure the sun’. Now the Bahamian parrot is confined to just two islands and they’re a protected species. On Great Abaco Island Bahamian parrots breed in the pine forests of the south and, as Pauline Newman discovered, their nesting behaviour is quite extraordinary”

CLICK HERE==>> ABACO PARROTS PODCAST – THE ABC SCIENCE SHOW

For the relevant web page and a transcript of the talk CLICK LOGO===>>> 

Thanks to the ABC Science Show for use approval – click name for more Podcasts

Abaco Parrot

ABACO PARROTS: NEST CAMERAS AND PREDATOR CONTROL


♦ NEW ABACO PARROT LOGO 

[Note: this post replaces the preliminary, typo-ridden and imageless draft that subscribers may have received, for which I stupidly pressed the ‘publish’ button rather than ‘save draft’… Not the 1st time, either… Sorry] 

Scientist Caroline Stahala has spent 10 years researching the Abaco population of the Bahama parrot. Her aim is to develop understanding of their behaviour so that conservation and management strategies for this rare sub-species can be optimised. Particular protection problems arise because Abaco parrots, uniquely, nest underground. Their main vulnerability is to predation by feral cats, racoons and rodents which kill adults, chicks and fledglings in the nest

Predator monitoring and control programs have been in place for several years, removing surprising numbers of feral cats prior to and during the breeding season. Prevention techniques have been refined as predation data has accumulated. In 2011 for the first time motion-sensitive cameras were used, positioned near the openings of vulnerable active nests (shallow or with large openings), monitored 24/7 with infra-red night-time flash. Constant technical adjustments were needed to determine optimum filming distance and memory card size, and to avoid ‘false triggers’ (eg wind)

A great deal of vital data was collected, particularly at night when predation can’t otherwise be effectively monitored. Feral cats were the most frequent visitors, followed by rodents. No racoons were recorded, so these may be less of a threat than expected. One northern mockingbird (above) was caught on film up to no good. It it seems that the camera flash itself may act as a deterrent, something that bears further study. There is also new evidence that some predators approach a nest and ‘case the joint’ for later use. All this data will make it possible to target predator control preventatively, rather than in the sad aftermath of predation – a great step forward. 

Overall, during the 2011 breeding season none of 55 nests monitored was lost due to predation. In previous years, the attrition rates have been around 25%. The use of cameras avoids any disturbance of the parrots and chicks and provides round-the-clock monitoring. If the cameras / flash are in themselves deterrents, that is a simple method of predation control. The new banding project means that it is now possible to be certain whether same parrot (or pair) is using the same nest cavity each year – and of course individuals can more readily be identified

Finally, Caroline confirms that the parrots weathered Hurricane Irene well.  She was still monitoring the breeding territory then, and when she returned to check active nests after the storm, she found the chicks and fledglings safe in their nest cavities 

Abaco Parrot chick safe and sound - the first post-Irene image

ABACO PARROT PROJECT: CHICK & FLEDGLING BANDING – AMAZING PHOTOS


CAROLINE STAHALA has provided some truly outstanding photos derived from her scientific research work during the summer into the breeding of Abaco Parrots in the National Park. By their very nature, these pictures of direct human contact with these lovely birds must be exceptionally rare, and I am really grateful to Caroline for allowing me to showcase them in this blog.

1. Adult Abaco parrots in the National Park pine forest.  One is wearing a band on its leg from last year’s ringing programme (CLICK images to enlarge)

2. A bag of 3 parrot chicks, at different stages of maturity, in the process of banding. You can see the band on the leg of the little bald unfeathered one

3. Two timed shots of adult Abaco parrots, one of which is going down the inside of their burrow into the nest while the other keeps a lookout

4. Caroline is assisted with writing up her data records by one of her protégés

5. A unique photograph (I haven’t been able to locate another similar image) of a newly-banded Abaco parrot fledgling contentedly perched on a human hand

6. This photograph of Sandy Walker (Delphi Club) is captioned ‘Sandy and Chick’, and I really don’t think I can improve on that!Thanks Caroline for these amazing images – it’s a privilege to be able to post them

IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN SUBSCRIBING OR DONATING TO SUPPORT THE CONSERVATION PROJECT TO SAVE THE ABACO POPULATION OF THE BAHAMA PARROT, THE DIRECT LINK TO THE SUBSCRIPTION / DONATION PAGE IS   HTTP://WWW.PARROTSINTERNATIONAL.ORG/MAIN-JOIN.HTML

 

ABACO PARROT POST – FLEDGING UPDATE


 Click me! 

CAROLINE STAHALA  has sent a quick update on the progress of the Abaco Parrots and chicks as the breeding season (and the associated project) nears its end. The chicks are growing up fast, and will very soon be fledging. CLICK==>>> HERE to admire their cute appearance in their earlier stages.        Caroline says “they are currently, literally, climbing the walls to make their first flight with their parents”. She hopes to provide some photos – perhaps there may be video – in due course. She hasn’t mentioned problems with feral cats, racoons or other predators, so with luck nest raids and chick losses through predation have been low. And if you want to know how to build an Abaco Parrot out of Lego™ (CLICK ‘Lego™ Logo’ above) you’ll have to buy my book “A Spare Week and a Bucket of Lego™” (rh Press $15 / £10)