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Fewer parrots counted in 2017 on Bonaire.

Last Saturday morning, over fifty nature-lovers left the comfort of their warm beds in the wee hours of the morning to spread out over the northern section of Bonaire and count the island’s loras (parrots) as they left their roosts.

Vounteers take a census of Bonaire's parrot population each year.

Volunteers take a census of Bonaire’s parrot population each year.

After a season of more and heavier rains following a multi-year drought, the loras seem to have dispersed around the island, making them more difficult to find and count. During the annual parrot roost count this year, nearly 700 parrots were counted. That is fewer than in previous years, but it is not because they are not here, but rather that they may now be sleeping in locations which are more difficult to access and observe. Therefore, it is the opinion of Echo Foundation, the organizer of the lora count, that not all loras have been counted. The count takes place on the last Saturday of January every year and gives an estimate of the minimum number of parrots on the island.

Parrots heard but not seen.

Once again this year, several teams reported hearing loras or seeing them flying nearby, but not within the area that they were surveying. Two sites near residential areas which last year had nearly 300 loras each, had much less this year. In the area of Sabadeco, for example, the total number dropped from 229 to just 11! Also in the Washington Slagbaai Park, the total count has declined for the second year in a row, with this year having just over 50 birds counted. However, the Park Manager, Paulo Bertuol, suspects there may be new roosts forming and these areas will be included in the surveys next year.

17 different locations were surveyed, in addition to Washington Park.

There were roost sites included this year which haven’t been counted in many years, but which are now showing activity, proving that the loras are regularly moving around the island and periodically changing their roost location. This unpredictable behavior of the loras makes it challenging for the participating volunteers to count them each year. The staff of STINAPA counted inside the Washington Slagbaai Park. Outside the park, over 50 volunteers visited 17 different sites.

How is the census taken and the parrots counted?

The Yellow-shouldered Amazon Parrot on Bonaire.

The Yellow-shouldered Amazon Parrot on Bonaire.

The loras are counted in a simultaneous count, which requires everyone to set off in the very early morning (pre-dawn) hours to locations all over the island. As the loras wake up and depart from the tree where they’ve been sleeping, they are counted. Each lora is only counted once. By adding the numbers which have been simultaneously counted across all the sites, the organizers are able to get a sense of the minimum number of loras on the island. This annual census is important for parrot conservation on Bonaire and for protecting the Yellow-shouldered Amazon Parrot (Amazona barbadensis) globally.

This year’s count was the twenty-second count overall and the twelfth consecutive count. It was organized by Echo, STINAPA, and the Department of Environment and Nature of the island government. To learn more about the loras,  visit www.salbanoslora.info.

(Source:  Echo Foundation)

 

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