Researchers Study Rusty-faced Parrots

Colombia researchers track the movements of the rusty-faced parrot in the Colibri del Sol Bird Reserve to learn how the parrots make use of their habitat.

Researchers with Fundacion ProAves of Bogota, Colombia, conducted the first telemetry study of the rusty-faced parrot (Hapalopsittaca amazonina) last year in the Colibri del Sol Bird Reserve. The study was in an effort to identify possible changes in their movements and how the rusty-faced parrot makes use of the habitat.

The researchers found that the rusty-faced parrot group studied uses an area of 2,686 acres, which comprises three major habitats: 1) a primary forest where the rusty-faced parrot is assumed to have carried out fruit consumption activities, 2) an oak forest where it seems the group develop eating and perching activities, as well as sites mainly used for roosting, and 3) the moorland, less frequently visited but where the group did salt consumption and grooming activities.

It was found that this flock of rusty-faced parrots broke up into small and medium-sized subgroups during their daily activities, inhabiting other parts of the sector where the reserve is located, according to the study.

The researchers have now established a spatial model to define the potential distribution of this species, according to Alexander Monsalve, the director of research with Fundacion ProAves.

“The latest data shows that this species is found in three different populations distributed over the central, eastern and western Cordillera of the Colombian Andes,” Monsalve said. “There is some talk that the three populations could potentially be three distinct subspecies. Also, the latest data tells us that 50 percent of the preferred habitat of the rusty-faced parrot has been lost due to conversion of land for commercial pursuits like agriculture and livestock.”

These studies are important because they give the researchers the actual distribution of this species and allow them to generate conservation strategies to protect this species and its habitat, according to Monsalve.

“Specifically, actions such as the acquisition of intact forested areas and where aggressive reforestation of native forests can take place,” Monsalve said. “Additionally, of great importance is the linking of conservation efforts with local communities with the aim to divert the unsustainable use of the parrots’ habitat and create new and environmentally friendly economic alternatives.”

Moving forward, the researchers are generating “an aggressive project” of artificial nests that will be placed in areas where the species is known to breed and nest, Monsalve noted.

“We would also like to establish a new project that helps us determine if indeed the three distinct populations could be considered subspecies,” Monsalve said.

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