1 of 2
1
Spix Macaw
Posted: 25 February 2009 06:41 AM   [ Ignore ]
Active Participant
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  100
Joined  2007-08-24

DELETED…....................

 Signature 

The Lock Wip…...........

Profile
 
 
Posted: 25 February 2009 04:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
New Participant
Rank
Total Posts:  6
Joined  2009-01-30

Ryan Watson (Blue Macaw Co-ordinator at Al Wabra) first mentioned, back in 2006, that re-introducing the Spix’s Macaw back to the wild was one of Sheikh Saoud Bin Ali Al-Thani’s long-term goals. Since then, a partnership of conservationists have succeeded in acquiring the land (Gangorra Farm) which was the last known habitat of the Spix’s Macaw. I can’t wait until an on-site facility gets built on (or close to) Gangorra Farm for the purpose of releasing and monitoring Spix’s Macaws back into the wild. Your detailed description helps me to further understand what the Spix’s Macaw natural habitat is like.

However, one thing troubles me. Back in 2006, Ryan Watson made very strong reassurances to us that Al Wabra was going to great lengths to try to prevent their Spix’s Macaws from getting over-socialized with humans. But, last year (2008), we found out that a team of people have been training 8 Spix’s Macaws to undertake intranasal hormonal therapy. While this was undoubtedly a wonderful and exciting experience for all the humans involved, and I understand the objective and conservation value of this particular venture, I worry that these birds’ natural behaviors have become significantly distorted. I, for one, have already read multiple reports of this experiment, including even detailed descriptions of targeting and handling methodologies, and even descriptions on how these techniques were later generalized to include other members of Al Wabra’s staff. It seems to me that, were one of these Spix’s Macaws ever to be released on or near Gangorra Farm, and I happened to be in the vicinity, that I might have a reasonable chance of getting this bird to Target for me, and let me handle it ever so gently, before I put it into my travel crate to take it back home (or to Russia or to Portugal or to Switzerland) where I would have a very good chance of significantly satiating my appetite for financial gain. So, while I agree with you that Captive Breeding certainly has a role to play in conservation, I need to emphasize that specialized knowledge and very extensive precautions must be put in place in order that the species’ natural behaviors are also preserved, and not just their DNA. I can only hope that a bird-robbng scenario, such as I have just described, would have been carefully thought through by the people who are currently involved in the captive custodianship and/or breeding of the Spix’s Macaws, so that such scenarios can be prevented when it is time to re-introduce these birds back to their original habitat.

Cheers,
Andrew

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 February 2009 10:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Active Participant
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  100
Joined  2007-08-24

DELETED…....................

 Signature 

The Lock Wip…...........

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 March 2009 10:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Active Participant
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  56
Joined  2007-06-10

Arara, can you tell me what the wild status is right now of the Spix Macaw?  Is there an estimate of how many are now in the wild and how they are doing?  Thank you, Cindi Eppers in Pensacola, Florida.

 Signature 

Cindi Eppers

Profile
 
 
Posted: 30 March 2009 09:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Administrator
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  123
Joined  2006-07-25

Hi Cindi,

There are currently no Spix Macaws remaining in the wild. The single surviving male disappeared in 2000. Captive spix are currently held in a number of facilities in Brazil, Europe and Qatar. You can find detailed information about their management here: http://awwp.alwabra.com/index.php/content/view/165/39/ and here: http://awwp.alwabra.com/index.php/content/view/171/51/. Hope this is helpful.

Best regards,
Steve-

 Signature 

Steve Milpacher
Director of Operations
World Parrot Trust

Profile
 
 
Posted: 31 March 2009 08:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
Active Participant
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  100
Joined  2007-08-24

DELETED…..............................

 Signature 

The Lock Wip…...........

Profile
 
 
Posted: 01 April 2009 12:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
Active Participant
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  138
Joined  2007-05-28

[Macaws and Parrots are very smart ! And tame parrots are smarter , due the fact that they “think” different from the birds that are conditioned to be scare of humans and predators ! ]


With all respect, I think this is false.

Tame birds can get along with humans because they have been raised with humans; they can even talk like humans and come to human hands to perch.

But the idea that these birds are “smarter” than their wild forebears is a myth. In order for nature to take its course with a parrot like you said in your post, it is necessary for humans to avoid “getting in the way” of the birds mental processes, that is, imprinting them on people in any way or form. Why is it that experts raising condors and kakapo and albatross and other birds for release always limit human contact with those birds, even to the point of feeding with puppets that are made up to look like a parent bird—because the more the human gets in the way, the more the true natural behaviors of the bird are compromised and diluted.

I have spent many years dealing with “tame” birds who do not know the proper behaviors in a flock with wild-born birds of their own species. These human affected offspring make the wrong courting sounds, they behave irrationally towards their mates, showing more penchant for promiscuity and mate abuse; they attack and bite another bird instead of showing aggression through posturing and ritual as a wild caught will often do. They fly towards humans when offered food, often to a fault, they can be so much less wary of dogs and cats and horses and hawks and rodents because their upbringing was so easy and so filled with warmth and lots of baby food.; they shy away and refuse to try odd new food items or ones that take a lot of time to open up, while wild trapped birds show tremendous wisdom about what to eat when and during which season, what to feed chics at the day one stage, the two week stage, the two month stage, and what to eat themselves when weather gets dry or days turn short and cold.


If captive raised birds are parent raised by their own kind and released into a flock of thier own kind, that is one thing; but I do not believe this handfeeding practice, this touching and holding and weighing and measuring and daily human contact is in the best interests of the species we seek to protect. Yes scientific data is necessary and yes the numbers of offspring are increased by handfeeding and human intervention, but it all comes with a price.
%

Profile
 
 
Posted: 01 April 2009 12:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
Active Participant
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  138
Joined  2007-05-28

If the species we presume to save ends up being fundamentally changed because of the way we implemented our conservation plans, then in a way we have saved the body, but ended up losing the mental acuity. Yes, tame birds are easier to work with in many ways, but does that not reflect on a basic lack in OUR methods, rather than the attributes we deem more desirable in our conservation subjects?  I am reminded of the Gabriel Foundation’s motto/quote:  “You remain responsible forever for what you have tamed.” (Saint Exupery)

Would tame parrots that we introduced in such a way have the capacity to survive without us? I wonder. From whence could they glean the wisdom and sense to migrate in the face of nature’s drought or volcanic eruption? How would such birds fare if forced by necessity to adopt an entirely new food regimen?

It is one thing to presume to save an endangered macaw from extinction, admirable as that is. But it is another thing entirely to recreate a viable FLOCK of macaws with all the social dynamics and innate knowledge of subtle behaviors that entails.

No, I will never believe that our captive raised tame parrots are as intelligent as their wild ancestors. That seems to be selling all these psittacine species short—considering the thousands of years they have survived up until now….without us!!

hmmm  hmmm

Profile
 
 
Posted: 06 April 2009 03:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
New Participant
Rank
Total Posts:  1
Joined  2009-04-06

I was doing a google search today when I stumbled across this thread discussing Spix’s macaws and was quite shocked by much of what I read, so I thought it might be a good idea to clarify a few things.
Firstly, the 8 birds which were conditioned for voluntary hormone therapy will never be released to the wild. Why would we release birds which are reproductively compromised? None of the adult Spix’s macaws in the studbook managed program will ever be released. If and when Spix’s macaws are returned to the wild, it will be offspring from the birds which are in captivity now which will be released. Currently there is 66 Spix’s Macaws in the program and we need to reach a population size of approximately 120-150 before releasing birds, this is to ensure we have a genetically and demographically sustainable population.
The release techniques most likely to be employed to reestablish Spix’s in the wild will be the same used in Mauritius for the Echo parakeet. I spent three years working with the Echo parakeet, hand-rearing 90 birds, all of which were released with a post release survival rate above 90%. Being an island species, Echo parakeets are naturally naïve to the threats posed by mammals, but despite this they still integrate successfully in the wild and do not fly to people. Spix’s macaws are innately more aware of the dangers posed by other species and therefore should be even easier to integrate into the wild. Unfortunately there is 2 entrenched beliefs in the parrot world that are simply not true, the first is that released birds need a wild teacher in order for them to succeed post release and the other is that parrots need to be trained how to behave like wild birds in a captive environment first before being released. The reality is that there is an important period post fledging when parrots experience important brain development, parrots held back in captivity too long do not develop to the same extent of parrots fledged into the wild or parrots released from captivity at a young age. During this period, parrots have innate awareness of potential threats which can either be cemented in their consciousness by using it or it can be compromised if not used enough, as would be the case in captivity. Parrots during this period also have an innate curiosity to try things, especially foods, and released early enough, parrots will learn to exploit most of not all available food resources in their area.
Everything we plan on doing with Spix’s in relation to reestablishing them back to nature, we will do first will Illiger’s Macaws, so you can rest assured that if and when we do start released Spix’s, no stones will be left unturned in assuring that they are given the very best possible chance to integrate successfully to nature. 
Ryan Watson
Blue Macaw Coordinator for Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation and Studbook Manager for species on the behalf of the Brazilian Government.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 06 April 2009 10:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
Active Participant
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  56
Joined  2007-06-10

Thank you Ryan for the update.  And thank you for the great explanation.  Cindi

 Signature 

Cindi Eppers

Profile
 
 
Posted: 07 April 2009 09:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
Administrator
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  123
Joined  2006-07-25

{Admin note: Posted on behalf of Prof Carl G Jones MBE—Carl has worked on the islands of Mauritius and Rodrigues since January 1979, initially for Birdlife International and since 1985 for the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust.  He has been the lynchpin of conservation efforts in Mauritius, and played a pivotal role in helping to save the Mauritius kestrel, pink pigeon and echo parakeet, as well as developing conservation programmes for the rare plants, and restoring the offshore islands of Ile aux Aigrettes and Round Island.}

I enjoyed the comments by my friend Ryan Watson and would like to add my support to his views with some minor qualifications.  Parrots can probably be released in areas with no wild birds and they will likely develop the necessary survival skills over a few generations provided they are given some post-release support.  This has been demonstrated with the Scarlet Macaw release projects in Central America, and with the populations of feral parrots that have been established in many places.  It is however not ideal to release birds without wild adults present to hand on the necessary traditions.  Our Echo Parakeets were mainly released where there are wild birds and they learnt many survival skills from them. When we released Echo Parakeets in areas with no wild birds the birds did less well. 
Ryan is correct in his claim that the sooner you release the birds after the usual post-fledging age the better.  Most of the birds we released were hand-reared in groups.  In the Echo Parakeet it is important to release birds in cohorts of 4-8 similarly aged young. The birds may need careful care and since they may not be properly weaned may need to be hand-fed when they return to the release aviary.  Our experience clearly shows that those birds released at an age close to the normal fledging age learnt a whole cohort of skills at the appropriate time in their development.  Birds released at a later age tended to be more dependent upon our management, rely more on supplemental food, be tamer and were more likely to spend time on the ground where they were vulnerable to predators.
This is a fascinating subject.  There is a great deal to learn about the re-introduction and management of released birds.  Birds released without wild or free-living birds to teach them will need careful management and support by experienced mangers to look after them properly.
Best wishes,
Carl

Prof Carl G Jones MBE
International Conservation Fellow, Durrell Wildlife
Scientific Director, Mauritian Wildlife Foundation

 Signature 

Steve Milpacher
Director of Operations
World Parrot Trust

Profile
 
 
Posted: 07 April 2009 03:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
Active Participant
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  138
Joined  2007-05-28

Thank you Prof. Jones for your clarifications.

I agree that releasing Echo Parakeet fledglings into an area where there are already flocks of wild Echos which the new young birds can imitate, follow and learn from is a much simpler job than trying to release Spix Macaws into the wild where there are no Spixes to act as teachers.

It would seem that some Spix fledglings would be more apt at quick learning about feeding on new foodstuffs, predator avoidance, safe sleeping spots and the like, while other individual birds would be more likely to depend upon human supplemental feed stations, staying close to the release site aviaries and the like. That is why I believe that an extended period of training would be helpful for such fledglings in order to determine in a free flighted situation which birds are the more apt learners.

Mr. Watson’s observation that:
[parrots held back in captivity too long do not develop to the same extent of parrots fledged into the wild or parrots released from captivity at a young age.]

This may have proven true in Mauritius, though I would venture that this concept depends totally upon HOW the parrots are kept in captivity, whether they are allowed out free flying regularly in rough topography with plenty of wild browse foodstuffs, and whether they are single males, single hens or paired bonded parrots. Also what they have been exposed to in terms of danger and flock dynamics prior to release.

Echo Parakeets are fast, elusive flyers that are quick to take off, adept at changing direction and have a common flock personna that when grouped in numbers provides extra protection against in flight dangers. The sizeable Spix is a different entity, being slower to emerge from perched positions, bulkier in flight maneuvers and landings, hence decidedly more vulnerable to say raptor attack.

Now if single Spix fledglings were released in an area that had older single birds already smart in survival and feeding methods, then it would be advantageous for these new birds to pair up with an opposite gender parrot for safety and education. Fleglings, however are dependent upon their parents until sexually aware enough to begin a friendship bond with another Spix, therefore releasing fledglings with no parental guidance, nor any predisposal to pair for later propagation, would work against the possibilities of the bird being more than a “loner” amongst other fledglings. If the fledglings are kept together in captive situation long enough to begin pairing up, then the program would most likely have a higher success rate releasing birds in young pairs.

Some added observations:

Mr. Watson says:  [Why would we release birds which are reproductively compromised?]

Well, they would be released for their experience and savvy in a flock of reintroduced Spixes! Why would a conservation program wish to keep them in captivity if they were reproductively compromised? Unless of course they were being used profitably to train youngsters—otherwise such birds are at a dead end conservation wise and should be imaginatively employed in a differing role.

Also he mentions: [Currently there is 66 Spix’s Macaws in the program and we need to reach a population size of approximately 120-150 before releasing birds]

That implies that it will be many years before fledglings will be available as the70 or so birds needed to make up that number will be aging by many months if not years prior to reachin a 130 bird goal. Twould seem plausible to be training all such birds in a safe area so that the intelligence and potential survival of the entire group in captivity goes up as the years go by, rather than remaining static in a program focused on only propagation of the needed numbers. Even having a breeding facility on site of future release would be preferable (If feasible) as the nuances of survival learned by outdoor caged birds in the environment they are going to be in are varied and subtly necessary—even behind wire or with daily sojourns out of cage.

As to this:  [Unfortunately there is 2 entrenched beliefs in the parrot world that are simply not true, the first is that released birds need a wild teacher in order for them to succeed post release and the other is that parrots need to be trained how to behave like wild birds in a captive environment first before being released]

Of course I would not state that released birds NEED a wild teacher. But having one is of enormous benefit to fledgling parrots who imitate and follow and learn daily—that is why fledglings spend so much time in the company of their parents in the wilds—learning species specific survival skills. And teaching release prospects how to behave in the face of danger or how to find water sources or which seeds are ripe when and where are things that humans have a hard time conveying. Releasing young birds with a huge learning window post-fledgling and expecting them to pick up so many such lessons by themselves is asking a lot. Not impossible, but higher risk to be sure.

I would expect if any Spix release were accomplished in the future, it would be more like a wild animal park, freed of as many dangers (including humans) as possible, with birds basically feeding at stations and then beginning to branch out into the environment as the months and years go by.
Should such a safe place be established, it would be a shame not to allow some formerly wild Spix birds, especially if reproductively compromised, to join a wild release group—lest the knowledge they have to pass on to captive born individuals be lost to the species forever.

hmmm  hmmm

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 April 2009 08:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
New Participant
Rank
Total Posts:  2
Joined  2008-01-16

Hello.

Arara Preta - 31 March 2009 08:34 AM

DELETED…..............................

What happens ?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 April 2009 08:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
Administrator
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  123
Joined  2006-07-25

Hi Laurent,

This means that Arara Preta deleted the original post and any further reference to it. Hope this help.

Best,
Steve-

 Signature 

Steve Milpacher
Director of Operations
World Parrot Trust

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 April 2009 10:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
New Participant
Rank
Total Posts:  2
Joined  2008-01-16

Thanks.
It is pity. It is one of the speakers whom I am most assidument. All her messages disappeared …
This subject is most interessants, not only for Spix, but also for all the passionate persons and hope that they have to participate in a little of conservation.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 April 2009 12:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
Active Participant
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  138
Joined  2007-05-28

Laurent,

I too wish the posts had not been deleted. She started such a fine thread here—one with good reading and participation—and her historic perspective on the Spix in the wild was invaluable.

**NOTE:  I would like to add one further note on the topic of release of former wild Spix Macaws which are “compromised reproductively”. (Though it was not explained in full what that connotation means.)

Were such a bird or birds to pair up in a wild release situation, with the heavy monitoring that goes on for these high level conservation programs, would it not be facile to allow such bird or birds to be part of a nesting pair which when observed to take to a tree cavity, could be used as surrogate parents for eggs from captive or other released fertile pairs.

This would allow those Spixes heretofore deemed unuseful for a release program to raise a chick in the wilds and watch over it and fledge it by themselves.

hmmm

Profile
 
 
   
1 of 2
1