Recovering After Hurricane Maria’s Devastation
Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel
When SurfWriter Girls first wrote about the parrots of Puerto Rico scientists were working hard to save the iconic Puerto Rican Parrots after Hurricane Maria decimated most of their jungle habitat in the tropical forest of El Yunque.
Only two out of 56 wild parrots survived the massive hurricane that struck the US island territory in September 2017.
In the 1800s there were more than 1 million wild parrots in Puerto Rico. But, over a century of forest clearing and development virtually extinguished them, leaving only 13 birds in the wild in the 1970s until a breeding program increased the population to 56. Then came the hurricane.
It became more important than ever for the island’s breeding program to save the bird population. Birds in captivity were waiting to be released into the wild in the El Yunque and Rio Abajo forests, but before that could happen scientists needed to make sure that there was sufficient habitat and food to support them.
With many of the tall trees where the parrots would nest gone and the protective forest canopy of leaves and branches still thinned, it was a challenge to find safe places for the parrots.
Marisel Lopez, who’s in charge of Puerto Rico’s parrot recovery program, said at the time that “the priority now is to start releasing them” and hoped that in 2019 the first group of 20 parrots would be able to venture out. The birds were released and since then, due to the success of the program, other groups have followed.
Now more than 200 parrots are in the wild and the jungle is alive with the unique sounds that they make.
Parrot Love Haiku
by SurfWriter Girls Sunny and Patti
of Puerto Rico still sing.
Two against the storm.
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