Over the next two years, we continued to hand-raise chicks in the aviary, employing methods to acclimate them to the jungle environment before release (i.e. crack mountain almonds, forage water, and fly). The workload increased substantially in 2018 as we rescued eight chicks, necessitating heightened efforts to meet their needs.
In late 2018, Dr. Donald Brightsmith shared insights from the Tambopata Peru Project, proposing a more nuanced approach to chick care. Instead of immediately removing chicks from the nest, we identified and supported the weakest chick within each nest by providing supplemental feedings. If the primary method did not work, the intervention of a ten-day stay in the infirmary to boost chicks to health was employed, to then return chicks to their original nest.
This innovative strategy implemented in 2019, yielded remarkable results, eliminating the need to raise offspring in the infirmary. Subsequent refinement of this approach progressed, as 2020 marked the first year of rehabilitating the weakest chick in the infirmary for ten days before reintroduction to the nest. GGM parents happily reintegrated the chick, noticing its clear health in being much more plump, and continued to raise and fledge, as would naturally occur.
In 2021, we encountered no rescue cases, attributed in part to the maturation of macaw parents and their growing familiarity with the demands of parenting. The application of Dr. Brightsmith’s methodology in 2022 addressed another critical case successfully, caring for the chick in the nest with additional feedings.
In 2023, a unique situation arose with a smaller chick named 'Lore.' From a nest box of three chicks, Lore was underfed and at high risk, prompting rescue to the infirmary. After Lore's ten-day stay, looking much more full and healthy, we attempted integration into the original nest. Unfortunately, Lore’s parents did not accept the chick back. A few days of close monitoring and supplemental feedings, it was clear Lore was not being integrated.
Lore ended up back in the infirmary again; the next best choice was now to wait for an adoptive nest.
Nobby and Munch were the perfect candidates, as they'd hatched only one chick that season. Lore was placed with the new family and again closely watched to track integration. Within a week, supplemental feedings were no longer required as the adoptive parents took Lore in as their own. Lore flourished, ultimately fledging, and embracing jungle life as a wild bird.
The success of our program underscores the importance of adaptive strategies, informed by scientific insights and hands-on experience, in conserving endangered species and restoring their populations to health.
- Duaro Mayorga, Ara Manzanillo Bird Specialist