2023 Newsletter – Another Wonderful Year!

Panama Wildlife Conservation Partnership
April 5, 2024
Newsletter: Breeding Season 2024
May 3, 2024

2023 Newsletter

Another Wonderful Year!

Dear Friends and Supporters, 

We hope this newsletter finds you in good health and high spirits! This past year, our dedication to repopulating and conserving the majestic Great Green Macaw (GGM) brought exciting new partnerships, programs, outreach, and more, which we are thrilled to share! Also, nine more chicks successfully fledged and are flying free!

Ara Manzanillo began in 2010 to prevent the extinction of the beautiful Ara ambiguous, as the local GGM population had dwindled to only one macaw sited flying with a group of vultures at the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge. The GGMs are listed on the 2023 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as “Critically Endangered (see) estimating as few as 500-1,000 remaining mature GGM’s in the wild*. Ara Manzanillo has successfully rewilded 107 macaws, increasing the world’s remaining population by 10%! While there is a long road to fully restore this species, the dream is alive that one day GGM’s will thrive, safe from humans and habitat loss, to freely fly throughout the entire region. 

* We participated in the GGM 2023 census and hope to receive positive population statistics soon!


Rewilding Great Green Macaws

The two rescued GGMs, Lucy and Diamond, are finally flying FREE after lengthy recuperation in our aviary!

Both were confiscated near the municipality of Siquirres by government environmental rangers, as illegally captive pets, severely malnourished, with clipped wing feathers. After quarantined at the  Jaguar Rescue Center, Ara Manzanillo staff cared for Diamond and Lucy in the rehab aviary for over a year, ensuring they learned to eat foraged nuts, strengthen their wings, interact with other GGM’s, and adapt to the diverse sounds and weather of the rainforest.

The Ara Manzanillo team celebrated with great anticipation the pair’s release! Lucy and Diamond fledged with great success and have been sighted in good health near the field station.

Lucy is in the sky with Diamond! Read more here.  


Reforestation of Native Habitat

Local Talamancan forester, Jewinson Brown, sparked the inspiration of the select reforestation project that has planted and cared for over five hundred trees of specific wildlife food species in 2023!

Mountain almond trees (Dipterix panamensis) serve as the GGM’s best food source and nesting habitat – high nutrition for the birds but also high price for hardwood. Costa Rica suffered major deforestation of these endangered trees; a significant cause of the GGM’s decline. Logging mountain almond trees was banned in 2007 to protect the remaining GGM population, however enforcement is challenging.

Tree planting is a long-game approach, as mountain almond trees grow slowly and live up to 600 years! Mature mountain almonds bloom a beautiful purple and drop nuts once yearly, averaging a range of 4,000-6,000 nuts per tree. It may sound like a lot, adult GGM’s can eat 60 almonds a day - even more while feeding chicks! As the GGM population continues to grow, ensuring enough food is vital for survival.

Tree planting was paired with educational field trips to inspire the next generation of Talamanca caretakers, sparking love for the local rainforests and species while having fun in the dirt! We are incredibly thankful for all the joy our helpers brought while they learned about the GGMs. Over the next twenty years, we look forward to seeing how the seeds planted both in the ground and in their minds will grow!  


Assisted Reproduction - Nest Boxes & New Chicks

The Nest Box Program began in 2015 to mitigate the effect of reduced nesting habitat and chick predation. Ara Manzanillo has installed 27 nest boxes, six of which are inhabited for the 2024 breeding season! Artificial nest boxes provide ease to check activity, though more GGM’s are finding natural nest cavaties natural nest cavities. Generously, HARI donated a drone to enable us to document otherwise inaccessible nesting habitats high in dead trees!  

Female macaws can lay only one egg per day, but three eggs could hatch in a season. Thus, hatchlings emerge and grow on their own schedule. In the wild, natural selection favors the strongest chicks, resulting in one, possibly two surviving.

In early 2023 breeding season, monitoring nests found a high-risk runt chick. Volunteers took ‘Lore’ to the infirmary for several days to provide supplemental feeding. Though Lore quickly regained health, the chicks’ parents did not accept the chick’s return. Resourcefully, our team relocated the chick to an adoptive nest where new adoptive parents successfully integrated the young chick as their own and helped Lore fledge! Read more about Lore.


Community Outreach

An important successful collaboration with Panama Wildlife Conservation (PWC) was developed after prior leadership exchanges suggested by partner World Parrot Trust! Duaro Mayorga, our Bird Specialist, worked closely with PWC team to share acquired knowledge about nest building, installation, and climbing techniques to strengthen their fieldwork. We also shared educational materials for their outreach to neighboring communities of Cerro Hoyo National Park. We look forward to growing this partnership and to protect more expansive corridors for the birds. 

Other highlights of the year were dancing in the streets for the Wolaba Parade in Puerto Viejo, bringing more community awareness to our commitment to the Lapas Verdes. Our guided tours have become popular for tourists and residents alike, which sparks daily joy as visitors experience the magnificent GGMs at close range. Puppet shows for local communities were a big success and a new presentation is in the works!


Our volunteers were once again vital and amazing. The successes at Ara Manzanillo would not be possible without our dedicated volunteers. 

Our commitment to the reintroduction of the Great Green Macaw remains constant and true, and with your continued support we are confident in the positive trajectory of the remarkable Great Green Macaw! If you are so inspired or able to further support Ara Manzanillo, please consider donating or volunteering.

Warm regards,

Erin Paulson
Ara Manzanillo Conservation Team