Wednesday, June 22, 2016

My Cape Parrot Progress

Name: Jessica Stiles
Year: Junior
Hometown: Milford Ohio
Internship: Cape Parrot Project
Location: Hogsback South Africa

  We have been in Hogsback for about a month now and it is amazing. Each morning we wake up and watch the parrots as they fly down the mountain for the day. We were set back a week because of a dispute between the community and the local municipality but we were able to use the time to bird watch and explore some other areas of the country. Despite the setback we have been able to get some good data and vocalizations of the parrots. We got up extra early on June 9  to drive down to a town called Alice where there is a pecan orchard that the project knows the parrots go to. I was in charge of the vocal recordings for the day, so I went out and chose a spot in the orchard to wait for the arrival of the cape parrots. Within a few minutes they began to appear and chose a tree one over from where I sat to record. We ended up with some very nice recording before a jackal buzzard scared most of the parrots away. I noticed two had stayed and upon further investigation with the camera Cassie noticed that the female that had stayed has Psittacine Beak and Feather  Disease Virus (PBFDV), but the male that stayed with her did not. We suspect the male was either a mate or a friend that stayed when the others left. About 15 minutes after the jackal buzzard had scared most of the parrots away, a flock of about 23 came in together and we managed to get some more audio of all the parrots before we packed up to head back to Hogsback.

On the left is the female with the Psittacine Beak and Feather Virus. You can tell she is a female by the patch of red on her head just a over beak. The yellow discoloration on her wings are the indications of the virus. On the right is the healthy male that stayed with her. Makes do not have the red just above there beaks, which is really the only way to tell the difference. (Pictures  courtesy of Cassie Carsten. I am actually standing right below them when he took the pictures.)

  After we took lunch we basically hiked down to The Big Tree and did some phenology along the way. We have been going around finding all of the nest boxes on the gps and updating our data on them. What we do is collect data such as the circumference of the tree, calculate the diameter at breast height, the species of tree, whether the nest box is for birds or bees, it's material, it's hight above ground, the nests aspect, the trees height, the trees latitude, longitude, and altitude, and the state of the tree ( alive, snag, canopy cover, and the stage it is in). We were only able to do three trees with nest boxes along the way because we did not have enough tags left. On the way to The Big Tree we acquired a little companion who stayed with us for about three hours or so, a little Jack Russell mix.
When we left the tree we went to the View Point at the Away With The Fairies back packers lodge to watch the parrots return for the night. We ended up getting new data to add because the parrots landed down at The Big Tree and stayed down in the valley below which is not like the usual behavior of the parrots. I can not wait to see what else this internship has in store for me.

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