The Rio Abajo aviary in Puerto Rico is critical to the endangered Puerto Rican parrot, and now the first before and after pics are emerging since Hurricane Maria’s aftermath.
Scientists on the ground in Rio Abajo report that Maria destroyed many of the aviary enclosures for the parrots.
The new images illustrate that the Rio Abajo forest, which is home to about 80 wild Puerto Rican parrots, is stripped bare. The leafless trees offer little cover for the endangered birds.
Biologist Tanya Marinez says parrot caretakers are trying to build their own canopy for the endangered birds.
The forest has no more canopy, so we’ve been placing palm fronds on top of the flight cages to protect the parrots from the scorching sun ☀ pic.twitter.com/tUjTi367DJ
— Tanya Martínez (@iguacachick) October 14, 2017
The Puerto Rican Parrot, also known as the Puerto Rican Amazon, is the only remaining native parrot in Puerto Rico. In fact, the colorful birds have been on the critically endangered list since 1994.
In 1989 the parrot population was nearly wiped out by Hurricane Hugo. This year, biologists tasked with protecting the birds took extraordinary steps to protect the captive parrot population from Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
The caretakers appear to have been successful in their efforts, but Hurricane Maria left much of their facilities in ruins.
The damaged infrastructure in Puerto Rico allows for limited communication in and out of central Puerto Rico, so details out of Rio Abajo have trickled out over the past several weeks.
Martinez spent the last week at Rio Abajo, and she was able to send out the before and after images late Monday.
Martinez says it will take many years for Rio Abajo to recover, and she’s asking the public for help.
— Tanya Martínez (@iguacachick) October 8, 2017
Some of the before and after pictures draw a picture of the just how devastaing the Category 5 winds were in Puerto Rico.
Martinez says with much of the forest defoliated, the parrots are making good use of what they can find. The fruit of the royal palm survived and the parrots appear to be eating that.