Tambopata Macaw Project
The Tambopata Macaw Project is a long term research project, started in 1989, with the goal of learning about the basic ecology and natural history of large macaws, so that this information could be used to help their conservation. It is located in the lowlands of south east Peru, under the direction of Dr Donald Brightsmith of the Schubot Exotic Bird Health Centre at Texas A&M University.
The reasons for macaw decline include habitat loss and poaching for the pet trade. Much of the local habitat is currently affected by the construction of a large highway through the centre of the country – with this comes, traffic, pollution and further construction activity. As the rainforest is cleared, the macaw’s main food sources are reduced, and their nesting sites destroyed. It is difficult to restore these sites, as the macaws require large tree cavities to nest in, which are usually found in the heights of slow growing tress, which can take 20 years of growth before being suitable for use by the birds. As a result, the destruction of each site means not just the loss of a single nest, but also the loss of dozens of future chicks that could have been raised in this cavity. Pet trading also has a big impact because poachers will often cut down the trees to remove the macaw chicks from the nest.
The principal aim of the Tambopata Macaw Project is to study the various aspects of the ecology of large macaws and parrots to help us better understand the interactions among clay lick use, food supply, breeding season, breeding success, abundance, and movements. This understanding will be invaluable to the birds’ conservation.
Clay Licks & Predation
Our scientists have designed new nest boxes for macaw species that have never nested in artificial nest substrates, and conducted experiments and observation aimed at understanding why some macaw chicks die of starvation, and how to enhance their survival. The findings of this research are being shared with conservation scientists worldwide to aid the conservation of parrots and macaws on a large scale.
In recent years the project took a focus on scarlet macaws, by using video surveillance cameras in the nesting sites, to collect information on occupation and territorial competition, and breeding behaviours, such as rate of laying, hatching and fledging. The scientists are required to climb to great heights to monitor the nest sites, and will take DNA samples from the chicks for lab testing, in order to provide information of breeding populations.in this area, and lead guided tours, and provide tourist information.
Parrot Pairs Game
Home Range & Habitat Use
Ecotourism & Volunteers
Over the past decade the project has worked closely with Rainforest Expeditions, an ecotourism company that hosts the project at their lodge, the Tambopata Research Center, and provides the project with salaries, donations, transportation, food, lodging, and logistics. The project also has attracted hundreds of national and international volunteers, many of whom showed exceptional talent and are now associated with the project on an ongoing basis. The project has been also serving as an effective mechanism to find and train talented aspiring conservation professionals and activists.
We are proud to have supported the TMP Projecto Guacamayo for over 11 years.