What Defenders Is Doing to Help Thick-Billed Parrots

A long-term research, monitoring and conservation program, lead by a team from the Instituto Tecnologico de Monterrey in Coahuila, has been underway since 1995. The thick-billed team monitors population numbers, chick survival and forest conditions in nesting areas, performs experimental translocations between sites, and works within communities to protect and enhance habitat. Also, despite years of searching, interviewing, and radio-tracking attempts, no one knows where the thick-billed parrots, which are studied at their summer nesting sites, go during the winter. This information is vital, because these unknown wintering areas also need protection.

This research and conservation work is supported by Defenders, the Mexican environmental group Pronatura, and several others.

Defenders also participates in a binational planning group on thick-billed conservation. This group makes recommendations for research and conservation efforts in both the United States and Mexico. Plans are currently being made to translocate thick-billed parrots from Mexico to Arizona.

It is critical that efforts to re-establish extirpated populations in both Arizona and Mexico be accelerated. Reestablishing the parrot in Arizona would provide an extension of range into suitable habitat that is not threatened by logging, and an Arizona population may be vital to the species’ survival. In order to guarantee the long-term survival of thick-billed parrots, it will be essential to restore them to multiple places in numbers large enough to protect against natural or manmade disasters and with enough connectivity to other populations to provide for dispersal (and therefore gene flow) between populations. The first step is for populations and habitats in Mexico to be secure enough to provide birds for translocation to other sites, so that a chain of populations can be established from Durango to Arizona.