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Severe storms a serious challenge for Puerto Rican Amazon

Desi Milpacher, Editor | Oct 18, 2017


"Before and after images give a sense of the damage done to the forest by Hurricane Maria. The forest has no more canopy. It will take many years for Rio Abajo to recover."
~ Tanya Martínez, Conservation Biologist on site at Rio Abajo Aviary, Puerto Rico

Click photo to zoom in

Click photo to zoom in

Click photo to zoom in

Click photo to zoom in

Click photo to zoom in

Click photo to zoom in

Natural disasters can prove devastating to native island species, even those that adapted to these extreme events over millennia.

Recent hurricanes have put the already-threatened Puerto Rican Amazons at serious risk. This is not a new occurrence; in 1989, Hurricane Hugo halved the population from 47 to 23. It wasn’t until about 2011 that the population had stabilized and grown to over 300 individuals, both captive and wild.

 Amidst chaos in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria project workers are, remarkably, spotting small groups of parrots in the Rio Abajo forest.

The birds have been seen consuming royal palm fruits, the only fruit to survive the storms. Staff are also providing supplemental feedings for the birds. Since the storm wiped away the forest canopy there is no shade, so they are layering palm fronds on top of the breeding center’s flights to protect the birds from the scorching sun.

It’s a difficult situation for parrots and people, but thanks to the incredible generosity of concerned, caring supporters, aid will be sent to the Rio Abajo facility so staff can get the project back up and running.