“It is encouraging news in more ways than the obvious,” said Juan Carlos Cantu, Mexico program director for Defenders of Wildlife. “Not only are we adding to the overall number of this imperiled population of macaws, but the increase in nestling number would suggest that our reintroduction program is establishing a population that is beginning to be able to support itself. That is the goal. To have it so close to being realized is an amazing feeling. These birds belong in the tropical rainforests of Mexico.”

Los Tuxtlas, MEXICO

In outstanding news and a win for endangered wildlife, 12 new scarlet macaw nestlings are about ready to fledge and leave the nest boxes Defenders of Wildlife and partners funded and installed to support breeding efforts for the species in Veracruz. 

The new nestlings represent a doubling of what hatched last year.  

“It is encouraging news in more ways than the obvious,” said Juan Carlos Cantu, Mexico program director for Defenders of Wildlife. “Not only are we adding to the overall number of this imperiled population of macaws, but the increase in nestling number would suggest that our reintroduction program is establishing a population that is beginning to be able to support itself. That is the goal. To have it so close to being realized is an amazing feeling. These birds belong in the tropical rainforests of Mexico.”

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Scarlet Macaw nestlings
Patricia Escalante
Patricia Escalante

These scarlet macaws belong to the northern subspecies that were granted protections under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 2019. 

In total, 23 artificial nests were set up around the southern Veracruz region in Los Tuxtlas biosphere reserve. Sixteen were in Nanciyaga, two were in La Flor de Catemaco, three were in Dos Amates and two were in Rancho Xococapan. Eleven in total were used by breeding pairs. Others remained empty or were taken over by bees. 

Like many parrot species in Mexico, scarlet macaws have faced enormous pressures from poaching for the illegal pet trade and habitat loss. Taking chicks or nestlings can have hugely harmful effects on overall populations because breeding pairs will usually only have one successful fledgling every other year. 

“This is absolutely a reason for celebration, however we must celebrate with cautious optimism,” said Cantu. “As long-term effects of the pandemic become clearer, we may face a startling reality. Poaching has largely gone unrestricted and ecotourism dollars that supported communities when travel was happening have dried up. Defenders of Wildlife and our coalition members are redoubling our education efforts in hard-hit communities to support these incredible birds.”
 

Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With nearly 2.2 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit defenders.org/newsroom and follow us on Twitter @Defenders.

Media Contact

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Hawk Hammer headshot
Hawk Hammer
Communications Specialist
hhammer@defenders.org
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Juan Carlos Cantu
Juan Carlos Cantú
Director, Mexico Program

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