Research Aims

The principal aim of the macaw project is to study the various aspects of the ecology of large macaws and parrots to help us better understand the interactions among clay lick use, food supply, breeding season, breeding success, abundance, and movements. The individual data sets collected by the assistants are then integrated to help determine how they are related.

Clay lick use by large macaws in the area was very low in 2009, due to the changes in vegetation and soil conditions. However, in early 2010, the Peruvian government, together with members of our research team planned to manage the clay lick to help restore the large macaw usage. As a result, we had the unique opportunity to study the same populations of macaws both with and without clay lick use.

Another important aim of the project is to help train new generations of conservation scientists. As a result, we work closely with young Peruvian and foreign assistants to help them gain the skills they need for conducting research. Students interested in conducting their own independent studies as parts of independent study classes, or theses at the undergraduate, masters, or doctoral levels are encouraged to apply to study one of the many aspects of macaw and parrot biology at our research sites.

Specific Project Objectives

  • Determine if food abundance or clay lick use is more closely tied to nest occupancy and nesting success.
  • Determine if clay lick use is correlated with parrot abundance.
  • Determine how large macaw nest success varies with relation to food supply and climate.
  • Document the nutritional content of parrot foods in the forest to better understand the role of clay lick in the diet of macaws and parrots.
  • Determine the health status of adult and young parrots to use this information to help manage parrots in captivity (in conjunction with Drs. Heatley and Hoppes from the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences at the Texas A&M CVM).