New before and after pics show damage to Puerto Rican Parrot Aviaries

Endangered Puerto Rican Parrots
Credit: Tanya Martinez

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.

Credit: Tanya Martinez

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.

 

 Credit: Tanya Martinez

Biologist Tanya Marinez says parrot caretakers are trying to build their own canopy for the endangered birds.

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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.

 Credit: Tanya Martinez

Martinez says it will take many years for Rio Abajo to recover, and she’s asking the public for help.

 

Some of the before and after pictures draw a picture of the just how devastaing the Category 5 winds were in Puerto Rico.

 Credit: Tanya Martinez

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.

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has a decade and a half of experience working in a fast-paced newsroom. He’s worked as a journalist, weather chief, and news director.

He was on air during major weather and news events, including Hurricane Katrina, and the EF-4 tornados that struck the city of Hattiesburg in 2013.

Ortego is a two-time 1st place recipient in Investigative Journalism from The Mississippi Associated Press and a five-time recipient of Best Weather Broadcast.