Volunteer

Notes from J. Ryan Steele
January 27, 2020
THE BIG RELEASE
January 28, 2020
 

My name is Sara Remmes and I’m a conservation biologist currently volunteering here at ARA Manzanillo. Most of my prior work has been with birds of prey, however, I have conducted research on a variety of species and have moved all over the world in order to do so. After completing a project in the Ecuadorian Amazon with my graduate group, I knew that I needed to find an opportunity to come back to the tropics to work with parrots. I have followed the work of the Ara Project since I was a teenager, and was elated to be selected to come help with the field research prior to the breeding season.

Creating nest boxes and monitoring Great Green Macaws is an exhausting and rewarding experience. In all of my fieldwork, I have never had to create a nesting cavity for a species that was in any way comparable to the size of a 55-gallon drum. There are so many details necessary to ensure the safety of the chicks and the success of their fledging. As someone that adores avian physiology, the fact that the breeding pair must chew on wood with their bills to stimulate the reproductive hormones necessary for successful breeding is fascinating. Watching the behavioral responses to us cleaning out and preparing the boxes while still in the tree is an exciting experience in itself. Every step of the process feels experimental with a project as novel as this. Each bolt or piece of wood tediously screwed into the nest box makes a difference. There is so much left to learn with this species, and it doesn't take much time spent here to realize how crucial every individual of this population is. I aspire to find funding in the future that will allow me to conduct further research on how to aid in conserving these incredible birds. With a species as threatened by humans as the Great Green Macaw, they deserve all the help they can get.