How to Get Involved in Wild Parrot Conservation

Coco, Blue and Gold Macaw

Training your parrot, overcoming behavioural problems, providing excellent care and educating prospective parrot owners about the mammoth responsibility of getting a pet bird are all very important. But as ‘bird lovers’ and owners, I feel we have another duty – to spread the word about the conservation of wild parrots.

It is a great privelege to own a spectacular bird like a parrot, but we must not forget the threats that their wild counterparts are facing.

For example, African Greys face threats like illegal trapping for the pet trade and destruction of their habitat. Because of the tiny ‘tubes’ the birds are often transported in, many perish before they are even sold, meaning illegal trappers are capturing even more than they need, to compensate for the amount of birds who die. Visit the Save the Greys fund page of the World Parrot Trust’s website for more information and to help.

Jasper, African Grey (photo by Ben Coulson)

The Blue-throated Macaw is currently listed as critically endangered and has been since as early as the year 2000. It is estimated there could be fewer than 250 individuals now left in the wild. Illegal trapping for the pet trade has drastically reduced since around the year 2000 but the habitat of Blue-throated Macaws is still under threat – deforestation for the purposes of growing crops or grazing cattle means they could struggle to find suitable nesting sites. And the small population means biodiversity is limited, which could lead to infertility (ie. breeding within a shallow gene pool). Visit the IUCN Red List report on this species here.

Jinx, Blue-throated Macaw (photo by Birdtricks)

Why not type in the species of parrot you have into the IUCN Red List here and see if your bird’s wild counterparts are also in trouble? I have only provided a couple of examples here but there are many other species near or already threatened, to see all the World Parrot Trust’s current projects, click here, they include work to help the following species:


Blue-throated Macaw, Great Green Macaw, Hyacinth Macaw, Lear’s Macaw, Red-fronted Macaw


Blue-fronted Amazon, Yellow-naped Amazon, Yellow-shouldered Amazon, Dominican Amazon, St. Vincent’s Amazon

And many others:

Cape Parrot, Echo Parakeet, Golden Conure, Kuhl’s Lorikeet, Moluccan Cockatoo, Patagonian Conure, Red-throated Lorikeet, Thick-billed Parrot

I hope some of you will be inspired to Get involved in current projects by spreading the word, helping to raise funds or by making a donation to the World Parrot Trust or, at the very least, just be more aware of the plight of wild parrots.

Oh, and not forgetting the world’s rarest and, arguably, strangest parrot, the Kakapo! The un-parrotlike characteristics of this unusual bird from New Zealand has helped to raise awareness of their struggle.

Kakapo (image from Kakapo Recovery)

Ok, so it’s a little different to your pet bird; the Kakapo is the heaviest parrot in the world and, despite having large wings, can’t fly. They are great at climbing, though, and apparently have a ‘musky’ odour! Most importantly, the Kakapo is critically endangered, there are fewer than 130 individuals remaining.

For more on the charming Kakapo and the current breeding and conservation programmes, check out Kakapo Recovery on Facebook or visit their website.


Ann Porteus

Have a look at this link – a wonderful documentary: On a Wing and a Prayer Playful, mischievous and highly intelligent, Carnaby’s Black Cockatoos are adored by thousands, hunted by many and saved by few. Endemic to the south-west region of Western Australia, only a small pocket of these large, gregarious birds remain and these are permanently under threat. Some are still being poached and smuggled for private collections. Many are illegally shot. Together with land clearing, loss of native food habitat and injury from man-made structures, the Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo is plummeting towards extinction. Species recovery is an uphill struggle, only two percent of new-born chicks make it to adulthood. The odds are against them. Hope for their future lies in the hands of the local community and one man in particular, Senior Wildlife Investigator Rick Dawson. This year Rick is determined to protect one small family of Carnaby’s Black Cockatoos at a ‘high risk’ nesting site he calls ‘The Stump’. Over the last four years the parents have lost their chicks to poachers. With their species numbers more than halved over the last forty years, it is vital for the survival of their kind that the Stump pair breeds successfully this season. Rick will do whatever it takes to make it happen. ‘On a Wing and a Prayer’ follows the incredible life cycle of this family of striking birds as they migrate to breeding grounds in the south-west of Western Australia. Every milestone in their struggle to survive is documented through the engaging story of The Stump family. This is a story of love, loss and sheer endurance. With special access granted to our film-makers and photographed in stunning HD, ‘On a Wing and a Prayer’ will enter the extraordinary world of the Black Cockatoo, capturing a remarkable never filmed before journey of life and hope for one of Australia’s most loved, but critically endangered birds.

Ann Porteus
Darlene Carver

Another way to help in the conservation of wild parrots that is fun is to join the annual Parrot Lovers Cruise sailing out of New Orleans this year. Here is the cruise itinerary: Oct 28, 2012 – New Orleans, Oct 29 – At Sea, Oct 30 – At Sea, Oct 31 – Montego Bay, Jamaica, Nov 1 – Grand Cayman, Nov 2 – Cozumel, Nov 3 – At Sea, Nov 4 – New Orleans. A portion of our fees goes to the World Parrot Trust and we also donate to the sites we visit on the islands. Go to for more information. The other advantage is you are with about 50 other parrot lovers who all love to talk about our parrots. Fun for the people and a conservation effort, too. What a combination.

Darlene Carver

I agree buying parrots is not good. leave the breeding to people such as loro park ete who return to the wild. There are thousands of birds in the uk alone that need rehoming because people did not understand the work love and attention there beautiful birds need. There needs to be more education to make people understand that having them as pets is not a good idear. I have an 80 foot flight with 12 foot inside area and only keep rescue birds. In my eyes this is still not the ideal but better than the life they had in a cage in a front room and no one to play and talk to. My birds love the sun rain and to play together. we must stop the pet trade it is barbaric for these poor birds. bex


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