Carlos Rengifo, MSc.
Organization: La Mucuy Bird Observatory
Location: Sierra Nevada National Park
Research: Ecology and Conservation of the Rusty-Faced Parrot in the Sierra Nevada National Park, Mérida, Venezuela
Species/Topic: Rusty-faced Parrot
Abstract: Among the least known Neotropical psitacides are the species belonging to the genus Hapalopsittaca. These small colorful parrots have a very restricted distribution and inhabit the highest elevations of South America ranging from 2300 to 3600 m. in cloud forests, and occasionally the paramos. Thus far, four species have been described, all of them with an extremely fragmented and localized distribution in the Andes, from Venezuela to northern Peru. Only the species H. amazonina (Rusty-faced Parrot) is present in Venezuela with two subspecies H. a. amazonina located in Colombia and in El Tamá National Park in southwestern Venezuela and H. a. theresae endemic to Venezuela and restricted to the Mérida mountains. All species of the genus Hapalopsittaca being locally distributed in restricted areas have a vulnerable status. Furthermore, the two subspecies found in Venezuela are considered endangered. In spite of this, the Venezuelan populations of Rusty-faced Parrot are the least studied. Preliminary observations carried out in the Humboldt Trail, Sierra Nevada National Park, Mérida, Venezuela, has allowed us to locate a significant population of this parrot. This project will generate base line information, such as daily movements and reproductive and foraging strategies. In order to accomplish these goals, direct field observations will be carried out on a weekly basis for one year. The information gathered by the Rusty-Faced Parrot Project will allow the proper implementation of short and long-term management plans and establish the basis for a regional environmental education program.