This year, nine Blue-throated Macaw chicks have successfully hatched from nest boxes erected by Armonía (BirdLife in Bolivia) - including the first-ever second-generation nest box fledging.
Found only in the Llanos de Moxos - a tropical savanna in northern Bolivia - the striking Blue-throated Macaw Ara glaucogularis was nearly trapped to extinction as a result of demand for the cage bird trade, until 1984, when live export of the species from Bolivia was banned.
But while that threat has been reduced (if not entirely eliminated), the remaining Blue-throated Macaw population, estimated to be in the low hundreds, faces a significant hurdle in its attempts to rebound. The entirety of its known breeding range is situated on what is now private cattle ranches, and the resultant tree-felling and burning has left the Blue-throated Macaws - picky nesters by necessity - short on viable options.
Blue-throated Macaws prefer trees with spacious cavities to nest in, but 150 years of cattle-ranching has resulted in the clearing of most of the larger trees in the region. The beleaguered species has been recorded to suffer a high rate of nesting failures in recent years, with predation from species such as Southern Caracara Caracara plancus and Toco Toucan Ramphastos toco cited as one of the main factors.
However, since 2006, Asociacion Armonía (BirdLife in Bolivia), the Blue-throated Macaw Species Champion, have been working to boost the species' nesting options. With support from the Loro Parque Fundación, Bird Endowement – Nido Adopito – El Beni-Factors ™ and the Mohammed bin Zayed Conservation Fund, Armonía has erected numerous next boxes across the southern part of the Blue-throated Macaw's breeding range, to great effect. In the eleven years since the programme has been running, 71 chicks have successfully hatched - a significant number for a species with such a tiny (50-249) estimated adult population.