Jocotoco’s Southern Reserve Administrator Marco Galvez was pleased to send us these photos of two recently hatched El Oro Parakeets being raised in a nest box in the Buenaventura Reserve. Since 2007, Galvez has been overseeing a program to place nest boxes throughout the reserve to replace natural nest holes which have been lost due to deforestation. The nest boxes were built with the help of local community members and students from the nearby Loja University.
So far this year, 10 boxes have been occupied, although it is still early in the breeding season which usually occurs between March and June, so there may be more. Buenaventura is home to about 150-175 El Oro Parakeets, which represents about half of the world’s total population. The nest boxes have been an important component to maintaining the population while the forest regrows with Jocotoco’s extensive reforestation program.
For the past 10 years, the Parakeets have been studied by students at Loja University and the University of Freiburg. One of the most interesting findings of their research is that a family group of parakeets (usually about seven to nine birds) share responsibilities to raise the young, not just the parents and in many cases, more than one pair lays eggs in one nest. It is possible these two chicks are not siblings but cousins!
One of Fundacion Jocotoco’s “oldest” protected areas (the first 740 acres were purchased in July 1999), the Buenaventura Reserve is on the west slope of the Andes in southern Ecuador. Preserved within this beautiful reserve are extensive areas of cloud forest as well as some fine deciduous forest at lower elevations. The wetter cloud forest is maintained by clouds coming from the cool Humboldt Current just offshore–any lower or higher and it is much more arid. This spectacular forest is not protected anywhere else in the region, which has some of the highest rates of deforestation in the American Tropics. In El Oro and Azuay provinces, almost all forest has been removed, and there are few or no areas like Buenaventura where large patches of forest still exist. Only at Buenaventura does the El Oro Parakeet and many other threatened and endemic bird, animal, and plant species enjoy any protection from the deforestation which still whittles away at what’s left of their habitat. To date, Jocotoco has purchased over 3,700 acres which are now protected forever!
Click here to learn more about how Rainforest Trust is expanding the Buenaventura Reserve to help save the El Oro Parakeet.