Scientists are trying to save Puerto Rico's endangered Amazon parrots after Hurricane Maria destroyed the birds' habitats and food sources. El Yunque is a large national forest on the eastern part of Puerto Rico. Just two of the 56 wild parrots that once lived there survived Maria. The Category-4 storm struck Puerto Rico in September 2017. Scientists report other forests have seen great drops in parrot populations, as well.
İn the 1800s, there were more than a million of the bright green parrots living in the wild in Puerto Rico. By the 1970s, the number was down to just 13 birds after years of forest clearing. İn this Nov. 6, 2018 photo, a Puerto Rican parrot eats inside one of the flight cages in the Iguaca Aviary at El Yunque, Puerto Rico. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)
The U.S. and Puerto Rican governments launched a special program in 1972 to help increase the parrot population. That led to the creation of three breeding centers. Just weeks before Hurricane Maria hit, scientists counted 56 wild parrots at El Yunque. That was the highest number in the program’s history.
Scientists say that even though several parrots have been born in captivity and in the wild since Maria, the species is still in danger.
Marisel Lopez oversees the parrot recovery program at El Yunque for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. She says she is worried about the disappearance of parrots in El Yunque. She said, “It was devastating, after so many years of having worked on this project.”
The Puerto Rican Amazon is the island's only remaining native parrot. The birds only reproduce once a year.
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