| Orange-winged Parrot © Daniel Mello
| Orange-winged Parrot in flight © Gabriel Mello
| REGUA rainforest © REGUA
April 15, 2014
By Nicholas Locke, REGUA Project Manager
Life is not easy for large Amazon parrots in Brazil, as they are constant targets for poachers hoping to profit from the illegal animal trade. In the Atlantic Rainforest, where REGUA (Rainforest Trust’s Brazilian partner) is situated, populations of these birds have crashed following massive forest loss. Making things worse, in recent years the increased popularity and extraction of heart of palms has reduced food sources for Amazon parrots.
The threatened Red-browed Amazon (Amazona rhodocorypha), whose range once covered much of the northern Atlantic Rainforest, is now found only the state of Espírito Santo. Likewise, the endangered Red-tailed Amazon (Amazona brasiliensis), once dispersed throughout the entire southern Atlantic Rainforest, is currently confined to a few islands off the coast of Brazil’s Paraná state.
With the dramatic loss of these species, the Orange-winged Amazon is the only Amazon parrot still regularly seen. But even populations of this parrot have dropped significantly. They are hunted as a food source and captured as pets. In the early 1980’s alone, it is believed that as many as 66,000 were captured and sold as pets.
In a promising sign of improved conditions, a group of six Orange-winged Amazons has made the REGUA Reserve its home.
The parrots, which are using a dead palm tree with woodpecker-carved holes as a nesting site, are heard conversing gregariously in the early hours of the morning or late afternoon. One individual still has the remains of a chain around his foot, a reminder of former days in captivity.
Members of the group have formed couples – reflecting the fact that they mate for life – and are now raising chicks.
This is a positive sign that conditions are improving for the species, and we hope that the Orange-winged Amazon population will continue to increase in response to the protection our Reserve provides for it and other threatened wildlife populations in the Atlantic Rainforest.