Team

The Macaw Society is an international research group collaborating with many local and international scientists and organizations.

Reach out if you want to become part of our growing parrot conservation family: info@themacawsociety.org


Donald J. Brightsmith, PhD | Director

Dr. Donald J. Brightsmith is an Associate Professor of Ecosystem Health in the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology and the Schubot Avian Health Center at Texas A&M University. He holds a Ph.D. in Zoology from Duke University, an M.S. in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Arizona, and a B.S. in Natural Resources from Cornell University and is the author of over 75 scholarly works. His interest in wild birds started at a young age with binoculars in the backyard and has led him to projects, collaborations, and teaching in Peru, Costa Rica, Brazil, Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Indonesia, and throughout the US. His specialties are tropical ecology, ornithology, and wildlife conservation, especially topics related to wild and captive parrots. He has worked on parrots in Peru since 1993 and ran the Tambopata Macaw Project (now The Macaw Society/Sociedad Pro Guacamayo) since 1999. His research has focused on a wide variety of topics including parrot conservation, clay lick use, nesting, movements, habitat use, etc. He also conducts research on diets of captive and wild parrots, parrot enrichment, and wild Red-crowned Parrots in Texas. As an advisor to government and private parrot conservation projects he is helping put his knowledge to work for the benefit of wild parrots.

Website: https://experts.tamu.edu/experts/donald-brightsmith


Gabriela Vigo, PhD | Co-Director

Dr. Gabriela Vigo-Trauco is a Peruvian parrot researcher trained as a Biologist from the Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina in Lima, Peru. She started working with wild parrots in 2003 in Tambopata, Peru. Her expertise is in parrot nesting ecology and behavior. Her main investigations are related to the growth and development of macaw chicks in the wild, the breeding behavior of wild macaws, and management techniques to increase reproductive rates in the wild. Another substantial part of her research is the use of video cameras inside macaw nests. With this investigation, she is documenting and researching the chick starvation phenomenon and disputes for the use of nests. She also studies macaw parental care, and macaw nesting behavior to determine family relations and the use of wild macaws as foster parents and its implications for the conservation of the species. In 2019, she founded The Macaw Society with Dr. Don Brightsmith with the goal of continuing their scientific research in wild parrots and macaw but with a focus shifted to more direct conservation topics and advising local conservation action plans. Gaby completed her Ph.D. in the Department of Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences, Texas A&M in 2020 and now is part of the Schubot Center for Avian Health as a post-doctoral researcher. Now, she serves as a psittacine scientific consultant for the governments of Peru and Costa Rica and a co-director for the macaw sub-group for the Parrot Specialist Group. She also collaborates with parrot conservations groups from Mexico, Costa Rica, Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil.


George Olah, PhD | Scientific Adviser, Collaborator

George graduated with an MSc in Zoology from the University of Veterinary Medicine in Budapest, Hungary. He participated in several field research projects studying parrots and macaws in Argentina, Mexico, Bolivia, and Peru. He studied the population genetics of large macaws in the Tambopata-Candamo region in Peru. He completed his Ph.D. at the Fenner School of Environment and Society, The Australian National University. George is a conservation geneticist and nature documentary filmmaker who co-founded the nonprofit organization Wildlife Messengers.

Website: https://georgeolah.com/


Gustavo Martinez, Ms | Scientific Adviser, Collaborator

Gustavo is a Peruvian botanist that studied biology at the Pedro Ruiz Gallo National University in Lambayeque, on the north coast of Peru. He started working with The Macaw Society in 2005 as a field volunteer assistant and then came back in 2009 to be our field leader for five years. During this time, his main research was to document the phenology of plant species eaten by macaws and parrots in the area and estimate the food abundance in the forest for these species. In 2016, Gustavo worked on his master investigation focused on how environmental factors, such as precipitation, influence the phenology of the plants consumed by macaws in Tambopata.


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Carlos Huamani | Field Leader Tambopata

Carlos is a professional tour guide that has specialized in birdwatching. He started working with macaws back in 2007, first as a volunteer field assistant and then as a field leader for the then Tambopata Macaw Project. He is an excellent tree climber and is in charge of our tree climbing operations in Tambopata. He has specialized in macaw artificial nest maintenance and is very good at finding natural macaw nests and hanging artificial nest boxes. Currently, he is the leader of our expeditions for monitoring macaw nests in the Tambopata area.


Roshan Taylor | Field Leader Tambopata & communications collaborator

Roshan’s career in conservation began upon starting a Bachelor of Science degree in International Wildlife Biology at the University of South Wales, UK. During the BSc, Roshan embarked on a field trip to Honduras, where he visited a rainforest for the first time, spending a week in a cloud forest, and falling in love with the ecosystem. After graduating, he went on a conservation field course to Guyana, spending a month in an ecosystem called the Guyana Shield. Roshan then progressed on to a Master of Science degree at the University of Leeds, UK, studying Biodiversity and Conservation. On the course, Roshan took a year out and volunteered on a conservation project on Blue-throated macaws in Bolivia, and then embarked on his first experience with The Macaw Society as a field volunteer assistant. This was Roshan’s first time in the true Amazon Rainforest, and it was a spell-binding experience. Here, he spent half a year and worked alongside amazing people, and learned so much about macaw conservation in the Amazon. Later, Roshan was very fortunate to be able to return as the field leader, to oversee all the fieldwork for what was the team’s 20th year of macaw research in Tambopata. Nowadays, he helps writing for our Macaw Tails and for our social media platforms. He is the author of our “Act for the Amazon” edition, our latest effort to create awareness about how to protect amazon.


Sharman Hoppes, DVM | Veterinarian, Collaborator

Sharman graduated from Oklahoma State University as DVM in 1993, prior to that she worked as a registered nurse for 10 years caring for human patients. She completed an avian medicine and surgical residency in 1999 at North Carolina State University and became a Diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (DABVP) in avian medicine in 2000. She is an active member of the Association of Avian Veterinarians, has been on their board of directors, and has chaired two Avian Welfare committees. She is also active in the Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians and the Association of Reptile & Amphibian Veterinarians. She joined the Texas A&M CVM in 2006 and is an Adjunct Clinical Professor and Professor Emerita in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences. Her research interests include avian analgesia and Proventricular Dilatation Disease (PDD) in parrots.

Websites: Dr. Sharman Hoppes Educational Endowment – Giving (tamu.edu); Exotic Animal Hospital in Grapevine | Texas Avian & Exotic Hospital; Our Faculty Advisor – Student AVMA (SAVMA) (tamu.edu)

Bruce Nixon, DVM | Veterinarian, Collaborator

Bruce is the chief of staff of a large emergency animal hospital in the Dallas, Texas area. The facility houses many specialties including internal medicine, surgery, dermatology, and ophthalmology. In addition, he is active on the Animal Welfare Committees of both the Association of Avian Veterinarians and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

Native Community of Infierno | Collaborator Community

The Native Community of Infierno at the Tambopata River is part of the Ese’eja Nation, whose members have been collaborating with our project for decades. Their local knowledge and skills have been essential to our field research in their ancestral lands. We are planning to strengthen our collaboration with the members of the community through environmental education, capacity building, and collaborative work with them.

Wildlife Messengers | Collaborator NGO

Wildlife Messengers is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with the purpose of making scientific and educational films to promote nature conservation, mainly in countries with lower industrial bases, and to distribute them to national and international audiences. The targeted audiences include government authorities, elementary and middle schools, local indigenous communities, and non-governmental organizations. The Macaw Society has collaborated in many videos and films produced by Wildlife Messengers, like The Macaw Project and The Macaw Kingdom.

Website: https://wildlifemessengers.org

Natura Mexicana | Collaborator NGO

In the past few years, we have been collaborating with macaw researchers from Mexico, whose study site is in the Lacandona forest in Chiapas. As part of this collaboration, several of their researchers have visited our study site in Tambopata and our researchers have helped them in their site in Lacandona. This interchange of researchers resulted in sharing knowledge and experiences essential in the conservation of the last remaining scarlet macaw population in Mexico. We were also involved in workshops organized by Natura Mexicana with the Mexican Government about future reintroduction plans in their country.
Website: https://www.naturamexicana.org.mx