The Tucuman Parrot (Amazona tucumana) is found only on the eastern slopes of the Andes in Bolivia and Argentina, in a region known as the Southern Yungas forest. In the 1980s, its population suffered a severe decline due to capture for the pet trade, and it has never recovered. Conservation efforts have focused on protecting swaths of Southern Yungas habitat, but new research published in The Condor: Ornithological Applications highlights the ways in which this strategy may fall short. Anna Pidgeon of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her colleagues found that only 19% of the Southern Yungas is actually suitable breeding habitat for these parrots, and only 15% of breeding habitat is under any form of protection. Not all Southern Yungas forest is the same, and protecting habitat can only work if it includes what Tucuman Parrots actually need to successfully reproduce: tree cavities to nest in, and plenty of mature pino blanco (Podocarpus parlatorei), the evergreen trees whose seeds are the primary food for the nestlings.
The survival of an Australian parrot on the brink of extinction hinges on the co-operation of scientists who have been engaged in bitter conflict, prompting an extraordinary request for the experts to work together “courteously and respectfully” to save the last 50 orange-bellied parrots in the wild.