On this week’s TechKnow, Phil Torres journeyed into the Peruvian Amazon to witness one of the region’s most breath-taking and iconic creatures – the macaws. Since the 1960s, the number of macaws has severely declined from deforestation and the illegal pet trade.
Traveling two days by boat, Phil linked up with a team of scientists studying macaws in the wild, who hope their research will help conservation scientists and policy makers in the Peruvian government save these creatures from extinction. They are part of the Tambopata Macaw Project, a long term research endeavor established in 1989. The team, headed by Dr. Donald Brightsmith from Texas A&M, is unlocking the mysteries of how these birds live in the wild – how they mate, reproduce, raise their young – information vital to conserving them. Some of the secrets they’ve uncovered so far are surprising – for example who knew macaws make lousy parents to any but their first hatched chicks, refusing to feed or even share body heat with chicks hatched later? They also don’t necessarily mate for life – like humans they are serial monogamists – and are even capable of “divorce” now and then.
Here’s a behind the scenes look at Phil’s trip.