Blue-throated Macaw nests discovered in Bolivia


New nesting sites for the Critically Endangered Blue-throated Macaw have been discovered in the wet wilderness of the Beni Savanna, Bolivia, in the south-western corner of the Amazon basin. The expedition was led by Bolivian NGO Asociación Armonia, the World Land Trust’s partner in the country.

The birds were found close to Armonia’s Barba Azul Nature Reserve, where they had been observed feeding and roosting. However, they don’t breed within the protected area and their nesting sites were unknown. Reserve Manager Tjalle Boorsma led the exploration, focusing on the Motacú palm forest islands in an area where 15 birds had been found roosting north of the reserve in 2016.

A pair of Blue-throated Macaws on a Royal Palm (World Land Trust).

Initially the team – comprised of researchers from the American Bird Conservancy and the Cincinnati Zoo as well as Armonia – found only Blue-and-yellow Macaws, but then their luck changed. “The breakthrough happened when we sighted a pair of Blue-throated Macaws flushing from an elongated patch of Royal Palms,” said Tjalle. “The discovery gave a new scope to the whole expedition.”

The area was completely flooded and difficult to access, but Tjalle wanted to be sure of what they had seen, so he concealed himself in a makeshift palm blind and waited for six hours, when he observed the pair returning to their nest. Further exploration revealed four nests in the area in Totaí and Royal Palms, which is important information for the conservationists trying to protect their nesting habitats.

Tjalle added: “Finding the nests in Royal Palm and Totaí delivered the missing piece to complete our investigations. Now we definitively know that the Blue-throated Macaw prefers Totaí and Royal palms to nest in, as dead palm snags provide an excellent vantage point to observe their surroundings.”