About Us

The Tambopata Macaw Project was begun in 1989, by Eduardo Nycander (supported by the Wildlife Conservation Society) with the goal of studying ecology and natural history of large macaws, so that this information could be used to help protect these birds throughout the tropics. The site chosen for this research was on the upper Tambopata River in the center of a huge uninhabited tract of pristine tropical lowland forest.

The Tambopata Research Center was founded to host this research project. Intense investigations were conducted from 1990–1993 under Nycander’s direction. At this point, the research continued at a slower pace as Nycander’s focus shifted towards creating the ecotourism company Rainforest Expeditions to ensure that the Tambopata Research Center would remain open and active. In November of 1999, Donald J. Brightsmith joined the team and took over the direction and day-to-day operations and direction of the macaw project with the blessing and aid of Nycander. Since 1999, the macaw project has produced many new publications on a variety of topics and expanded to include studies of parrot biology and clay licks throughout southeastern Peru.

Working as a mentor and consultant, Brightsmith has taken the information learned in southeastern Peru and applied it in many areas of the American tropics and Indonesia. Now, a major goal of the study is to provide opportunities for young scientists to run satellite projects under the macaw project umbrella so that Peru and other parts of Latin America will have a cadre of trained scientists willing and able to tackle the conservation and research problems in future decades.


Working with the macaw project is physically and mentally demanding—but highly rewarding. The chance to live and work in this remote rainforest location is a wonderful learning experience for all those interested in biology and biological diversity.

The thousands of hours of observations that have been conducted over the years would not have been possible without the help of the many volunteers and assistants who have offered their time and energy for the cause of science and conservation. Volunteers are one of the most important aspects of the project. There are no qualification limitations, although most volunteers come from a biological or environmental sciences background. All applicants are welcome, as we can find a role for almost any type of volunteer.

As this is an on-going project we accept volunteers throughout the year.