Puerto Rican Parrots Successfully Released into El Yunque National Forest as Recovery Efforts Continue After Hurricane Maria
Release Date: Feb 11, 2020
Contact(s): Carolyn Krupp
Thirty Puerto Rican parrots (Amazona vittata) were recently released into El Yunque National Forest as part of a collaborative effort to help re-establish populations of this endangered species back into the wild. Hurricane Maria, which devastated the entire island in 2017, was particularly destructive in El Yunque resulting in significant loss of wild parrots in the Forest.
Following the hurricane, agency personnel from the US Forest Service and the US Fish and Wildlife Service have been working together on recovery efforts in El Yunque by conducting assessments of parrot populations, making improvements to aviary facilities and restoring habitat for the parrots in the forest. Parrots at the Iguaca Aviary in El Yunque have been breeding with record numbers of eggs and chicks produced post hurricane.
The recent release of parrots in the Forest will help reestablish a second wild parrot population on the island and has been designed to reduce the risk of impacts from future hurricanes or other threats. Habitat improvement projects in the Forest include installing artificial nests, observation platforms, and planting trees to improve nesting habitat and provide food. Agency employees have worked alongside partners, contractors, volunteers and local and off-island youth conservation crews to support these recovery efforts and the release of captively reared parrots into the wild.
The US Forest Service, the US Fish and Wildlife Service along with the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources have collaborated on long term parrot recovery efforts to re-establish populations of this endangered species in Puerto Rico for over 40 years. The Department of Natural and Environmental Resources also manages captive and wild populations of Puerto Rican parrots in the Rio Abajo State Forest in northwestern Puerto Rico.
Current populations island-wide are estimated at approximately 500 for both captive and wild parrots. The overall goal of the collaborative recovery program is to establish viable populations of wild and captive parrots, so the species is no longer listed as endangered.