Scarlet Macaw and Double Yellow-headed Amazon

By: Charles Britt, MS, with Isael Mai and Roni Martinez, our local hero's and celebrities!!!

Psittacine conservation in Belize has many challenges and successes. We initiated our research on Scarlet Macaws in 2010 to investigate nest survival. We found that nest protection efforts were unviable; nest poaching peaked in 2011 (89% of nests). We partnered with Friends for Conservation and Development to decrease poaching in Belize and with the addition of a lab for raising chicks at risk of poaching (and soft-releasing), poaching was eliminated in 2015 and 2016. Belize provides a haven for Yellow-headed Amazons across its lowland pine savannahs. This species is threatened by nest poaching and habitat loss; intensive logging and wildfire. We partnered with NGOs in 2016 for a countrywide assessment. The highest densities of birds were in protected areas with dense (0.18/ha) and open (0.15/ha) pine savannah. The lowest densities were in unprotected dense (0.07/ha) and open (0.06/ha) savannahs. While there were more nests in northern Belize (53 vs. 36), the south experienced higher nest success (53% vs 19%); likely due to a combination of poaching accessibility and predator densities. 13 chicks from at-risk nests were lab-reared and soft-released. We are intensifying our research into nest survival and protection in 2017 and 2018.