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March 25

Sam Williams, PhD | Mar 26, 2006


I first visited the Caribbean island of Bonaire in 2003 to work with the yellow-shouldered Amazon parrot (Amazona barbadensis) and get an idea of their situation. The visit was funded primarily by the World Parrot Trust (WPT), with contributions coming from the US and UK Amazona Societies and the Parrot Society UK. The fieldwork showed that there are a number of issues that conservation work must tackle to protect the parrots, but the good news is that the people of Bonaire are very keen to do what they can to help. (Look back to Psittascene Volume 16.1 (no. 58) 2004 to see what I was up to at that time.)

I worked with my good friend Beckerman following the 2003 field season to develop ideas of what conservation-orientated research could be done on Bonaire and together we created a research position at the University of Sheffield, England. I am now a PhD candidate, and the main focus of my work will be to look at the factors that limit the parrot population here on Bonaire. The point is that only when we have identified the biggest problem can we best direct future conservation efforts.

The project also grew as ideas developed, and this time I am not the only parrot researcher on the island. Rowan Martin, another English lad, will also be doing research on the Amazons, and WPT is supporting his work too. Our projects are independent, but it’s great because we can really help each other out and achieve more through working together. Ro’s studies will look at the parrot’s monogamous mating system and the roles of males and females. Among birds sexual monogamy (as oppose to social monogamy) is actually very rare and he is interested in investigating the driving forces behind it.

So here I am back on the island, yippee! Within an hour of getting of the plane, I’d seen a group of 12 parrots. I’d like to think they were welcoming me back. Seeing the sun is just fantastic after being in Britain in winter. I can’t wait to get started.

Picture of a yellow-shouldered Amazon parrot (Amazona barbadensis)