3 Exciting Parrot Recovery Programs you can get Involved with

Parrots are exquisite creatures. It is hard not to be endlessly fascinated by their forms, colors and behaviors – parrots, along with crows, are some of the most intelligent birds. When I was a little girl I desperately wanted to have an African Grey so I could teach it to talk. That was before I learned how the pet trade had decimated dozens of species.

Now, as a conservationist, I worry about those species that have been pushed to dangerously low levels – around one third of all parrot species are currently threatened. The main issues are the aforementioned pet trade and habitat loss. Concerned people all over the world are working to make sure that some of these bird species don´t completely disappear.

This is where you could come in. If you have a passion for birds and would like to work in parrot conservation, the following 3 projects could be a good starting point. As you well know, volunteering can give you the experience and contacts you need to get into a particular conservation niche. Give these projects and look and go to the World Parrot Trust´s website to learn more about parrot conservation. They have a lot of information on conservation actions taking place with many different parrot species.

The Ara Project

Great Green Macaw. © The Ara Project.

Great Green Macaw. © The Ara Project.

For a hands-on experience, the reintroduction of Scarlet and Great Green Macaws in Costa Rica could be the right fit for you. While both species are endangered in Costa Rica, the Great Green Macaw is the most threatened of the duo. This species has been reduced to around 2500 individuals globally and is threatened by the pet trade and severe habitat loss.

The Ara Project is looking for volunteers to help in the raising and releasing of macaws. A minimum stay of one month is required and duties include collecting wild foods for the birds, aviary cleaning and behavior monitoring. If you are lucky to go at a time when birds are being released back into the wild you might even be able to gain valuable experience in post-release monitoring.

P.S.: I believe an admission is in order. I will be volunteering with this project in September. This just goes to show I think it´s a good one. Maybe I´ll see you there.

Blue-Throated Macaw Project

Blue-throated Macaw - © Steve Wilson | Flickr

Blue-throated Macaw – © Steve Wilson | Flickr

This project takes place in Bolivia in a race against time to save the Critically Endangered and endemic Blue-throated Macaw. It is estimated that only between 100 and 130 are left. Threats include the usual suspects (trade plus habitat loss) plus predation and parasitism. Numbers are so low that even these two last natural phenomena pose a serious risk for these birds.

The project is requesting volunteers to come and help with their reintroduction. Duties are similar to those for the Ara Project plus the possibility to guard and monitor active nests if any are found during the period of the visit. Here the minimum stay is 2 months.

Read more about the project here and see the information for the volunteer position on our website´s page.

Kakapo Recovery


This iconic New Zealand species is a flightless parrot living on three offshore islands free from predators. At one point in the 1970s only 18 of these birds were thought to be left. They subsequently found another population, but the numbers were still very low. Currently the population stands at 130 individuals, and they even have names.

The Kakapo Recovery team counts on volunteers to help them with some of the work in these islands. Duties range from providing supplementary feeding, nest monitoring, or even just cooking. However they require that volunteers be extremely fit as conditions are rough on the terrain and also caution that there is no guarantee of seeing the actual birds while being there. Still, it seems like an amazing project to be involved with.

Find more about this initiative on their website and read the information for prospective volunteers here.

Be sure to check their live streaming videos – in particular the one on the 18th Apr 2014 (9:23 pm) to see a parent Kakapo feed a youngster – and also this youtube sensation of a Kakapo attempting to mate with someone´s head!

About the author



This post was written by Conservation Careers Blogger Marta Cálix. Marta  is currently doing her MSc in Wildlife Management and Conservation at the University of Reading. She comes from Portugal and has a special interest in threatened species reintroductions and protected area management.

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