Casa Lapa Restoration Project

Patrick Dunn with all the nest boxes installed within the Ave Azul Area

Patrick Dunn with half the nest boxes installed within the Ave Azul Area

With an historic range from Southern Mexico continuous to Panama, the Scarlet Macaw, Ara macao cyanoptera, now finds itself in a range reduced to isolated pockets of numbers throughout the region.

For years now it has been widely known that the majority of the species now occurs in the form of checker boarded habitat throughout Central America with a preponderance of the proven breeders occurring in Costa Rica, particularly the Osa Peninsula. These birds however, are now in real need of suitable nesting sites.

Karen Leavelle - Biologist and Project Manager

Karen Leavelle – Biologist and Project Manager

So, when we were approached by the ¨Blue Moon Foundation¨ a Washington based conservation organization and resident Ornithologist and project director Karen Leavelle to provide technical assistance, needless to say, we were eager to provide support.
I have been breeding many species of Macaws in captivity for more than 30 years and observing them in the wild as well for equally as long. As a result, I have learned much about the breeding biology of the species.

Although the bird appears stable and quite common locally within it`s present range in the Osa Peninsula it is still in need of some real conservation work.

NEst Box Project Osa Peninsula Scarlet Macaws

Nest Box and Howler Monkey

Questions to be answered regarding the project first had to be asked. One of the more interesting posed to me was…¨Why do this when the jungle appears chock full of trees in which to nest¨? Truth is,and research indicates the birds prefer only about half to a dozen species in which to nest. And many of those preferable specimens are already occupied by long time resident breeding pairs.

Additionally,many trees are constantly being lost to the elements. Trees age, fall to weather,(especially lightening)  disease, lumbermen and poachers ect. So with every new seasons offspring coming up and approaching maturation newly formed pairs are also looking for suitable sites. We are therefore,providing options. In my mind one cannot provide too many nesting barrels if we truly want to see the species fully recover.

Tree climber placing the Nest box into a tree

Tree climber placing the Nest box into a tree

Questions such as nest barrel size,nesting substrate and how much, location of barrels relating to tree type,direction and pitch of placement for weather ect. were all of concern. Every new site would present it`s own set of challenges.

The grant provided for the purchase of 20 barrels that are 35 gallons each. I have used this type and size for many years on my own farm quite successfully. All were washed thoroughly, primed and painted forest green. An entrance hole of 7×7” was cut aprx.22” up from the base. Several holes were drilled at the bottom for circulation and displacement of moisture. An inch and a quarter piece of hard Guava wood 24” long was placed inside the entrance vertically so as to allow for fledging  juveniles to exit safely. An experienced tree climber was hired along with gear and special insurance for the duration of the project and we were off!

nestbox project Scarlet Macaws Osa Peninsula

Nest box project – Climbing the trees to set up the nest boxes

Suitable locations had to be identified first by visiting and talking with land owners,ranchers and lodges who may want to be part of such an important project. Starting at the pueblo of Crate and the forest reserve boardering Corcovado National Park, we would work our way back to Jimenez,or as far as the barrels would take us. It was important to locate trees in close proximity to commonly used food trees but also available for close observation by  property owners to make notes. Considerations such as occupation by other species,i.e.Tree ducks,(very common), Primates, Woodpeckers, Toucans and Insects were all of fair concern. A simple wasp nest can totally inhibit a Macaws interest.

Tree-climber high up in the tree to install a nest box

Tree-climber high up in a hobo tree to install a nest box

Local interest and participation was enthusiastically received and all are hopeful for success with the project. Similar undertakings are currently finding success in Northern Costa Rica, Peru, Trinadad and Tabago and Puerto Rico. In some cases interest in the boxes/barrels,took up to 3 years. There are never any guarantees in a project such as this but the birds are naturally curious and so that is encouraging. Because of the fact that there is such a stable population of Scarlet Macaws in the Peninsula,time is on the birds side.
If you would like to be part of this worthwhile endeavor and take part in it`s future success,contact us at Ave Azul de la Osa and be invited to ¨Adopt a Lapa¨ and buy  a barrel.

BIG SHOUT OUT !!!!

May of 2013..

Big hoop and a holar go out to the owners of Dos Pinos corp. for their donation of 6 nest barrels for the project.

Thank you so much from the birds for your sincere concern for the welfare of one of your countries greatest icons.

 


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