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CPC Director’s introduction to the Slender-billed Project in Chile

Project update: Thursday, 20 November 2008

Through Dr. Mark Stafford from Parrots International, we realized that you are interested in volunteering for the newly launched slender-billed parakeet project during February of next year. We would be very happy to have you with Mark and Marie helping us out in the field.

Please let me explain you the project in a nutshell.

Dr. Tom White and Mark Stafford placing a radio collar on the first Slender-billed Conure captured for this study.

As may already know, this is a conservation oriented research run in collaboration with Dr. Tom White (USF&WS) and graduate student Ana Bertoldi, who is doing her Master of Science thesis examining the nesting ecology and movement patterns of the birds. We are currently monitoring the movements of two collared birds (trapping the parakeets has been a challenge!) and measuring habitat variables and characteristics of nesting trees. Birds are currently nesting. This is the first formal research on a species that we know virtually nothing about, is endemic of this part of the world, has conservation problems and conflicts with farmers due to predation on crops. Given this, the research deals with describing the basic natural history of the species and we are developing the methodologies as we learn from the bids, and is thus, quite challenging and exciting.

The study is supported by Parrots International and other NGOs. Thus far, we have the basic equipment and supplies, but have no funding for the running expenses, which are basically covered from our own pockets. Thus, we would not be able to cover your expenditures.

We would love to have you as a volunteer in the project. The field activities include extensive field work around the city of Osorno in agricultural landscapes with large scattered trees. The actual work will include several activities such as finding nesting birds and their nests, measuring the nesting trees and the surrounding landscape, checking nests (climbing trees), capturing and collaring adults and chicks, observing nesting and feeding behavior of birds, tracking birds with telemetry and counting bird flocks in different study sites. We use several techniques and ways of obtaining field data that you will learn, such as remote controlled traps, mist nests, measuring and collaring birds, GPS, aerial photographs, climbing techniques, measuring DBH, tree high, recognizing tree species, parrots and other bird nests, using spread sheets, etc. We are based at Universidad de Los Lagos, in the city of Osorno, which is s medium size city that has a safe environment.

This would be a very exciting experience for volunteers, considering the research itself, and also the local settings, which is in a region with plenty of forests, lakes, volcanoes, and dairy farms (Osorno is ca. 100 away from the Andes and also from the Pacific Ocean). Aside from the research techniques, you would be able to learn the language and from the local people. During your stay you would be able to visit several interesting sites around Osorno, all accessible with local transportation.

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