Puerto Rican Parrots on the Rise
The population of previously-endangered Puerto Rican parrots is on the rise according to positive reports from scientists and wildlife activists on the Caribbean island. "Everything is moving in a positive direction," said Tom White, a Fish and Wildlife biologist who helps manage the island's wild parrot populations. There are now 150 Puerto Rican parrots spread between two wildlife centres on the island – in El Yunque and Rio Abajo – and both breeding centres have reported a record year for new chicks in 2011, about 40 each so far.
The parrots, which grow to about a foot in length and mate for life, are secretive and considered exceptionally sensitive to any disturbance to their environment, which may be why their numbers plummeted in the wild – there were over a million across the island in pre-colonial times, according to estimates, but by 1975 there were just 13 on the island – a shocking report that led to the creation of breeding programmes. Parrot programme officials said they hope to have several wild populations that would be able to intermingle, something the Rio Abajo and El Yunque groups do not do now. But they don't have a specific target number, saying that “our philosophy is, the more the better.”