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Partnership with Texas A&M University

With the objective of turning it into an environmental education tool in the Central Pacific Conservation Area, scientists from Texas A&M University, under the supervision of biologist Dr. Christopher Vaughan, initiated in October 2021 new studies of the breeding cycle of the scarlet macaw (Ara Macao), as well as an integrated program of studies on ecology, genetics, health and conservation of psittacine parrots in Costa Rica, including Punta Leona as one of the research sites, due to the success we have had with the conservation program and artificial nests since 1994.

The scarlet macaw has the largest distribution of the 17 current species of macaws, from southwestern Mexico to northern Bolivia. It has been little studied throughout most of its distribution, but is considered endangered. For example, although legally endangered in Costa Rica and other countries, the lack of research on this species restricts it to being classified as a threatened species in many Amazonian countries.

The research involves scientists Dr. Donald Brightsmith and Dr. Gabriela Vigo, professors at Texas A&M University, as well as some assistants and students. They have been leading a project in the lowlands of southeastern Peru called The Macaw Society, dedicated to long-term research on the ecology and conservation of macaws and parrots, for more than 2 decades.

This research is now part of our Central Pacific Macaw Conservation Program.

In Punta Leona, the new stage of scarlet macaw research pursues some specific objectives such as:

  • Investigate and monitor the reproductive cycle of scarlet macaws by placing video cameras and sensor systems in and around their natural and artificial nests.
  • Investigate and monitor the nesting ecology of scarlet macaws by measuring and weighing chicks to determine growth rates;