Research Article

Nest-site characteristics and aspects of the breeding biology of the endangered Timneh Parrot Psittacus timneh in Guinea-Bissau

Published in: Ostrich: Journal of African Ornithology
Volume 89, issue 1, 2018 , pages: 33–40
DOI: 10.2989/00306525.2017.1369467
Author(s): Daniel C LopesFaculty of Sciences, Portugal, Rowan O MartinWorld Parrot Trust, UK, Mohamed HenriquesMARE – Marine and Environmental Sciences Centre, Portugal, Hamilton MonteiroCoastal Planning Office, Guinea-Bissau, Aissa RegallaInstitute of Biodiversity and Protected Areas, Guinea-Bissau, Quintino TchantchalamInstitute of Biodiversity and Protected Areas, Guinea-Bissau, Bucar IndjaiINEP – National Institute for Study and Research, Guinea-Bissau, Seco CardosoInstitute of Biodiversity and Protected Areas, Guinea-Bissau, Celestino ManuelInstitute of Biodiversity and Protected Areas, Guinea-Bissau, Manjaco CunhaInstitute of Biodiversity and Protected Areas, Guinea-Bissau, Domingos CunhaInstitute of Biodiversity and Protected Areas, Guinea-Bissau, Paulo CatryMARE – Marine and Environmental Sciences Centre, Portugal

Abstract

Timneh Parrots Psittacus timneh are endemic to the moist forests of West Africa. Concerns over rapid declines in populations due to overharvesting for the pet trade and forest loss prompted the species’ categorisation as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species in 2016. Despite these threats, few data exist on their biology in the wild, impeding the development of effective conservation initiatives to protect populations. One of the few recorded breeding sites for this species occurs in the Bijagós Archipelago in Guinea-Bissau, where chicks have been historically harvested from nests and forest clearance for agriculture is common. We investigated the breeding ecology of Timneh Parrots in the Bijagós Archipelago focusing on two islands that harbour the densest populations. Specifically, we describe nest-site characteristics, breeding phenology and reproductive productivity. Timneh Parrots were found to use secondary nest cavities in 17 species of trees, predominantly nesting in trees between 20 m and 50 m in height. Nest cavities were generally aggregated, with a density of up to 14 nests ha−1 in some areas, although nests also occurred in isolated large trees. The distribution of nests likely reflected a heterogeneous distribution of large trees containing suitable nest cavities, emphasising the importance of protecting mature trees. Nesting efforts were initiated between early January until late March, suggesting that nest surveillance efforts to deter poaching can be efficiently focused at a small number of key sites during February to May each year, when fledgling chicks are most likely to be present. These data further suggest that the population may be limited by the availability of suitable nest cavities and that the installation of artificial nest cavities could help increase the breeding population.

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