As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Thursday, 7 February 2019

Parakeet nest discovery hints at new conservation opportunity

Rufous-fronted Parakeet, a threatened psittacine endemic to Colombia, has been recorded nesting inside a building for the first time, possibly offering a new conservation opportunity for this rare and range-restricted species.
An almost all-green, dainty parakeet just 18-19 cm in length, Rufous-fronted Parakeet inhabits the temperate tree-line and open paramo (grass-shrub zone) mainly between 3,000-4,000 m altitude in Colombia's Central Andes. The species is listed in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as 'Vulnerable' to extinction, and is included in a project of the Colombian NGO, Fundación ProAves, for the protection and recovery of threatened parrots of the Cordillera Central (Central Andes), which has been supported by Loro Parque Fundación since 2003.
The species' favoured habitat is contracting due to agricultural activities, especially cattle grazing and related burning. Farmers replace the native plants with grass, which is bad news for the paramo as cattle slowly erode the land, making it unfertile and poorer at retaining water. It may be that Rufous-fronted Parakeets can tolerate some habitat alteration, as they are sometimes observed feeding in fallow fields and areas altered by grazing. They are social birds which are usually observed in flocks, sometimes consisting of as many as 100 individuals. They feed on or near the ground, mostly taking grass seeds, as well as some small fruits and flowers of shrubs and bushes.
In February 2007, a field team at ProAves made the singular discovery of the first-ever nest of this species. It was constructed of moss and placed 18 m high in the canopy of a guayabo tree (Myrcianthes sp) growing in an open area of sub-paramo, at 3,000 m above sea level (asl). Observations by the ProAves biologists revealed that six parakeets visited the nest daily, which strongly suggests that the species can be a co-operative breeder. Remarkably, until the recent discovery of the nest in a building, the tree nest had remained the only documented nest of the species.

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