At In Your Flock companion parrot magazine, we include a news department with newsbites that influence the health and welfare of your companion parrot ownership and relationship. If you have something new in the works, it may be a candidate for publication. From new training tips to the latest anti-pet legislation, we keep up with interesting news for you. Here are some of the press releases we’ve gathered lately:

IYF Goes On-Air With Bird Talk Radio

Bird Talk Magazine Flock
Listen in to In Your Flock on Bird Talk Radio May 5th.

You, too, can join the BirdTalk Flock from Denver, Colorado, courtesy Wild Birds Unlimited if you call in during the In Your Flock timeframe. Saturday, May 5, IYF magazine editor Sandy Lender will be interviewed on BirdTalk Radio. Brothers Scott and David Menough host this fact-filled bird program, so it seemed the ideal venue for In Your Flock magazine to join the avian conversations.

In Your Flock companion parrot magazine began in the autumn of 2012 to bring fact-based, useful information into pet bird owners’ homes; editor Sandy Lender will share that message and some enrichment ideas with the BirdTalk Radio listeners this Saturday as the International Celebration of Birds week wraps up. Join the BirdTalk Flock with the Bird Talk Guys, Scott and David…and Sandy!

Here are the details:

If you’re in the Denver, Colorado, area, you can listen on AM radio 710 KNUS or 1690 KDMT from noon to 1 p.m. Mountain Time, May 5. Lender joins the conversation about 15 minutes into the show.

If you’re outside listening range, you can still participate. The Bird Talk Guys will be broadcasting on Facebook Live from noon to 1 p.m. Mountain Time. And you can catch the Bird Talk Guys podcast afterward.

Puerto Rican Parrot Sightings Continue

Cornell Laboratory has released its 2018 issue of Living Bird Magazine, and has posted an update on the Puerto Rican Parrot (Iguaca!). Synopsis: If you read the review In Your Flock published of the children’s book that details the history of the Iguaca, you know the parrot recovery team has been working hard to reintroduce populations on the island since deforestation, natural disasters and disease have plagued the bird for hundreds of years. Since Hurricanes Irma and Maria visited the island in 2017, the team has learned how these clever parrots hid out in the “hilly topography” during the storms. They report that “[a]t least 92 of the  more than 130 parrots that lived around Rio Abajo survived” the storms. That’s good news. Read more good news at the Cornell Lab website.

Boston Falcons Have Eggs

In Your Flock peregrine falcons Boston
Three peregrine falcons in the egg, with a parent

As of March 25, there are still three eggs in the peregrine falcon nest at Marriott Vacation Club Pulse at Custom House, Boston. It’s the most successful peregrine falcon nest in the eastern United States, with this spring marking the 20th year (at least) that peregrine falcons have been nesting in the 102-year-old Clock Tower. The nest is completely within the tower and protected from the weather.

More than 30 years ago, as part of a national peregrine falcon restoration effort, wildlife officials and bird conservationists first released several young falcons in Boston. Although peregrine falcons nest on rocky cliffs, they nest most frequently on high, man-made structures such as buildings and bridges. The Clock Tower at Marriott Vacation Club Pulse at Custom House, Boston, is nearly 500 feet tall, which is, apparently, appealing to this pair.

A live feed from an EarthCam camera lets interested humans keep an eye on the couple and their budding family. Visit the camera page on EarthCam to check out nesting activity. If the nesting season is successful, cam highlights will include incubation (in progress now), hatching, feeding and the chicks’ first attempts at flight. Be warned: nature is harsh. But nature is also beautiful. Enjoy!

Thank you to the Marriott Vacation Club for the nest picture.

Electric Eagles

We reported on the love-raptors from Bernardsville and Newark, New Jersey, in the Q1 issue of In Your Flock pet bird magazine. Now we have a live link to watch these fabulous eagles making eggs! (They’re not parrots, but they’re still fabulous.) TY to New Jersey Audubon for sharing the link!

A NewsBite About Habitat Conservation

habitat conservation parrot magazine
Deforestation in Cambodia

Payment to protect carbon stored in forests must increase to defend against rubber plantations in Southeast Asia

Efforts to protect tropical forests in Southeast Asia for the carbon they store may fail because protection payments are too low—according to University of East Anglia (UEA) research. A study published Friday in Nature Communications finds that schemes designed to protect tropical forests from clearance based on the carbon they store don’t pay enough to compete financially with potential profits from rubber plantations.

Without increased financial compensation for forest carbon credits, cutting forests down will remain more attractive than protecting them. Carbon credits are currently priced at $5 to $13 per tonne of CO2 on carbon markets. But this doesn’t match the real break-even cost of safeguarding tropical forests from conversion to rubber in Southeast Asia—between $30 to $51 per tonne of CO2.

The research was led by the UEA, in collaboration with scientists from the universities of Copenhagen, Exeter, Oxford and Sheffield, and the Wildlife Conservation Society. Lead researcher Eleanor Warren-Thomas, from EUA’s School of Environmental Sciecnes, now working at the University of York, said, “Forests are being converted into rubber plantations in Southeast Asia—especially in Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. Rubber production covers a massive area—8.6 million hectares—which equates to around two-thirds of the land used for oil palm plantations. Some of this area is traditional rubber agroforestry, but recent expansion has been of intensive monocultures. Demand for natural rubber, driven by the tyre industry, has driven this expansion. The consequences for biodiversity and climate change are very similar to that of oil palm. But rubber has not faced the same level of public scrutiny. It’s a big problem because these forests are irreplaceable. They are globally unique ecosystems, supporting many threatened animals, birds and plants, as well as exceptionally valuable luxury timbers such as rosewood. They also help mitigate global climate change by absorbing and storing CO2. Because of this, they are worth a lot of climate change mitigation efforts.”

Forests which are kept intact absorb and store carbon—this process can be translated into “carbon credits” which can be offered to individuals, organisations, or even countries, to offset their own carbon emissions, or in wider efforts to combat global climate change.

The research team focused on Cambodian forests, where trees grow as high as 55 meters, and investigated whether carbon credits are enough to safeguard the forests by working out the amount of carbon held by the trees, and the amount of profit which could be made by logging and conversion to rubber.

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Southern Nawab with a rubber tree

Warren-Thomas said, “We collaborated with the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Forestry Administration of Cambodia, who have been working to establish a forest carbon project in Cambodia, and researchers from the universities of Copenhagen, Exeter and Oxford. They contributed their detailed and hard-won field measurements of forests to make this research happen. This allowed us to make detailed and careful measures of both the carbon and the timber value of these forests.”

The team went on to calculate how much each tonne of CO2 should be priced at to match foregone profits from timber and rubber profits—the break-even carbon prices. The break-even price needed to offset all the profits from logging and conversation to rubber plantations, is much higher ($30 to $51 per tCO2) then the prices currently pain on carbon markets ($5 to $13 per tCO2), but is similar to or lower than the social cost of carbon (at least $36 per tCO2). This social cost is the estimated economic damage caused by an emitted tonne of CO2.

Warren-Thomas said, “It makes sense on a global scale to protect these forests and reduce CO2 emissions, rather than let the emissions happen and do economic damage. But, we show that current carbon prices need to be higher to incentivize forest protection. Forest carbon credits place an economic value on the carbon storage ecosystem service provided by forests—we know that there are many other reasons why a forest might be conserved, aside from just the financial incentives offered by carbon finance, but carbon schemes are considered a useful tool in the battle against climate change and deforestation.

“Forests are less likely to be protected using carbon finance if the payments coming in are much lower than the profits the forest would generate if cut down. We show that where demand for land for rubber plantations is driving deforestation, carbon payments are unlikely to appear an attractive alternative. We also show that if you take away the threat of rubber, the profits from logging on its own seem to be sufficiently low for carbon finance to be a competitive alternative. That said, we may have undervalued some of the timber in our study, because the trade of rare but very high-value species, such as rosewood, is illegal and we know little about how much money is being made. The threat of rubber could be reduced by the zero-deforestation pledges that have already been made by big tyre companies, government regulations, or enforcement of existing forest protection laws. But ultimately, the demand for natural rubber might only be mitigated by further development of synthetic alternatives or improvements in recycling natural rubber.”

Protecting tropical forests for the rapid expansion of rubber using carbon payments was published in the journal Nature Communications March 2, 2018. You can see the paper and images at this dropbox link.


Which Critters are Eating the Manioc in Western Brazilian Amazonia

Editor’s Note: Mark I. Abrahams, Carlos A. Peres, and Hugo C.M. Costa, prepared the research paper exploring which indigenous vertebrates raided human-cultivated crops, and then discussed just how that affected agriculturists’ livelihoods and opinion of conservation.

UEA parrot magazine
A black and white hawk eagle caught on the “camera trap”

Tropical biodiversity benefits humanity. However, the costs of conserving topical biodiversity are largely borne by local communities. The damage caused by wild animals to human-cultivated plants (crop-raiding) in tropical ecosystems directly affects the livelihoods of local agriculturalists eroding their support for conserving biodiversity. We used data collected between 2013 and 2015 from 132 camera-trap stations and responses from 157 interviewees representing 47 semi-subsistence communities to quantify and contextualize terrestrial vertebrate crop-raiding damage to manioc (Manihot esculenta) agricultural fields (i.e., roçados) in the Médio-Juruá region of western Brazilian Amazonia. The five vertebrate species identified by respondents as the most damaging crop raiders were agoutis (Dasyprocta fuliginosa), collared peccaries (Pecari tajacu), pacas (Cuniculus paca), red brocket deer (Mazama americana), and spiny rats (family Echimyidae). These species were frequently detected by camera traps in early-successional forests.

Respondents reported mean manioc stem losses to crop raiders of 7.3 percent/roçado. Proportional losses of more palatable manioc varieties were approximately three times higher than more phytochemically defended varieties, further constraining crop choice. Respondents estimated that in the absence of active crop-raider suppression, overall losses would have been 73.9 percent/respondent/annum, and therefore invested substantial effort in crop protection. Small communities, already economically disadvantaged by isolation from the material, service, and information monopoly of urban centers, were most affected by crop raiding. Although, the most damaging crop raiders are ideal candidates for sustainable subsistence hunting, we found only weak evidence of positive opportunities for agriculturalists to hunt crop raiders to compensate for crop losses. Our study indicated that crop raiding may continue to exacerbate the challenges inherent in tropical agriculture and represents a significant forest ecosystem disservice.

Key Findings:

  • Crop raiding damages the livelihoods of Amazonian communities by directly reducing crop yields, necessitating costly crop protection and reducing the range of crops that can be planted.
  • The most damaging crop raiders are collared peccaries, red brocket deer, paca and agoutis.
  • These species are not highly endangered and could be hunted for subsistence without threatening biodiversity.
Spix's Guan UEA parrot magazine
Spix’s Guan caught on “camera trap”

Lead researcher Dr. Mark Abrahams, from UEA’s School of Environmental Sciences, said: “Conserving biodiversity is challenging for rural communities where livelihoods are sometimes threatened by wildlife. In parts of Africa and Asia for example, where elephants can destroy crops and even harm people, a bitter human-wildlife conflict may ensue, in which local communities kill wildlife and resent conservation organisations.

“Rural Amazonian communities are some of the world’s poorest, but they live with the world’s highest biodiversity. Their primary source of income and carbohydrates is farming manioc—which produces starchy tubers and grows well in infertile tropical soils.

“We wanted to find out how local communities are impacted by wild animals eating their crops.”

The study finds that crop-raiding impacts subsistence farmers in three ways.

  1. First, on average, farmers lose more than 7 percent of the manioc crop every year to crop raiders and some farmers lose their entire crop.
  2. Second, farmers need to invest time and energy into protecting their crops to avoid much higher losses (roughly 10 times higher).
  3. Third, because more palatable “sweet” manioc is three times more vulnerable to crop-raiding, farmers are forced to plant less of it and hide it among more chemically defended “bitter” manioc. Small communities far from towns were worst impacted by crop raiding.

Despite these livelihood impacts, rural communities are not attempting to wipe out all crop-raiding animals. Hunting with dogs and setting traps as commonly reported as non-lethal crop protection methods such as enclosing their fields with nets.

“We found that the most damaging crop-raiding animals were collared peccaries which look similar to wild pigs, red brocket deer, paca and agoutis, which are both types of large rodents,” Abrahams said.

“These species are not highly endangered so hunting them for subsistence does not threaten biodiversity, as long as conservation measures like protected areas and natural resource management are put in place.

“This study shows that crop-raiding in the Amazon does not need to become a human-wildlife conflict. Conservationists can work with local communities to support their management of natural resources. Vulnerable species like spider monkeys, which do not damage livelihoods, could be protected from hunting, whilst common and damaging crop-raiders like agoutis could be hunted for subsistence.

“The community-based management of natural resources, including the hunting of crop raiders, could form part of the sustainable-use conservation strategy which is already being implemented in the Jurua region and elsewhere in the tropics.

“Biodiversity conservation and rural development are sometimes presented as incompatible. Crop raiding has the potential to damage livelihoods and make communities hostile to conservation. In our study region however, it seems that crop raiding is not an insurmountable barrier to conservation.”

Prof Carlos Peres, an author on the study from UEA’s School of Environmental Sciences, said: “Coexisting side-by-side with wildlife often incurs a cost to subsistence farmers in tropical forests, which export colossal environmental services that enhance the lives of millions of people elsewhere. This asymmetry in costs and benefits at different scales should be explicitly recognized by both conservation and development policy agendas.”

Final Notes: Terrestrial crop raiding carried out by forest vertebrates on manioc crops cultivated by semi-subsistence forest dwellers in Amazonia imposed the burdens of direct crop loss, restricted crop choice, and increased efforts invested in crop protection. The subsistence hunting of crop-raiding species within agricultural areas may be compatible with the conservation of neotropical biodiversity insofar as the species identified as the most damaging crop raiders are harvest-tolerant and common.

In Your Flock readers can visit the University of East Anglia (UEA) website or check out the full article and additional images at this dropbox link.

Vet Course Focuses on Relationship with Your Parrot

The executive director of the Human-Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI), Steven Feldman, shared one of the outcomes of the VMX 2018 in Orlando, hosted by the North American Veterinary Community (NAVC). He explained that a major focus on the conference this year [was] the human-animal bond, “and HABRI is proud to be working alongside many companies and organizations in the animal health space to ensure that the scientific research on the health benefits of companion animals is being leveraged by the veterinary community.” He shared that HABRI’s recent survey of pet owners “revealed that veterinarians are viewed as trusted resources for human-animal bond science. In conjunction with the VMX conference, HABRI will be announcing the launch of Human Animal Bond Certified, a new veterinary education course focused on the science of human-animal bond. This new course was made possible by a partnership with the NAVC, support from the AVMA as a founding educational partner, and the generous sponsorship of Zoetis, Petco and PetSmart Charities. HABRI is grateful to be working with these leaders to help veterinarians safeguard and strengthen the human-animal bond.”