Journal of the American Federation of Aviculture
Puffins in Peril Conserving the Clowns of the Sea
by Deb Dial , Assistant Curator at the National Aquarium
VOLUME XLIX January 2022
Journal of the American Federation of Aviculture
ON THE COVER North Atlantic Puffin
Volume XLVIX ▪ January 2022
A Message from the President by Mary Ellen LePage
C O N T E N T S
Legislative What You Don ’ t Know - Could be Critical! by Adrianne Mock Understanding Problems with your Parrot ’ s Beak
by Dr. Kimberly Roset, DVM
Frosty Retires at 85!
Papercaft Toys by Constance Woodman, PhD.
Cover Photo by Deb Dial
Mission and Purpose of the AFA The mission and purpose of AFA is to promote the advancement of aviculture through educational programs that enable better husbandry, management, and living conditions for exotic birds; promote avian research and conserva- tion of exotic birds; keep our members aware of legislative issues that affect aviculture and aviculturists and keep legislators aware of the need for fair and equitable regulations. The goal of AFA is to ensure long - term, self sustain- ing populations of exotic birds both in captivity and in the wild.
Cover Story Puffins in Peril Preserving the Clowns of the Sea
by Deb Dial, Assistant Curator National Aquarium
19 19 20 22 24 26 28 30 30 31 32 33
ParroTrivia Question by Debbie Schweikardt
Everybody Loves Watchbird —Just ask Phoenix Community Education Helping to Save the Scarlet Macaw in Mexico by Rick Jordan et. al.
Looking Back - AFA ’ s Disaster Relief
by Fred Smith
Kakapo Conservation Genome Study by Janice Boyd, PhD.
Yellow - naped Amazon by Simon Kiacz and Donald Brightsmith
Phillipine Cockatoo and Other Parrots by David Waugh
(don ’ t peek)
What is the IUCN Redlist?
American Federation of Aviculture Inc. P.O. Box 91717 Austin, TX 78709 (512) 585 - 9800 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Internationational Parrot Convention at Loro Parque
AFA Conference Information
WATCHBIRD STAFF Editor: Susan van den Broek
COPYRIGHT 2022 American Federation of Aviculture. No part of the contents of this magazine (including line art or photos) may be reproduced by any means. AFA policy is to authorize reprints of articles, provided that express written permission is obtained from WATCHBIRD , P.O. Box 91717, Austin, TX 78709.
Contributors: Elise Franchi Rick Jordan
2 Volume XLVIX ● January 2022
May 2022 bring you a year of peace, health and prosperity. May we all work together to protect a future with birds. AFA is starting an exciting new endeavor. We will introduce AFA to Congress! For years, Congress has only heard the agenda of animal rights groups. It is time they hear from avicultural professionals. Congress needs to learn the importance of breed- ers and the importance of being able to transfer birds across state lines. Congress needs to know that thousands of bird - lovers vote. It is time that we speak up about what bills we want passed or killed. We are planning a series of information handouts to be given to our legislatures with the true facts about aviculture. We will have printing costs and distribution costs. AFA needs your tax - deductible donations (at www.afabirds.org or use the QR code) to make this happen. Thank you for any help you can give.
Mary Ellen LePage President American Federation of Aviculture
AFA Watchbird 3
What You Don’t Know ~ Could be Critical!
by Adrianne Mock AFA Legislative VP
Legislation affects all of us as bird owners. Whether we breed, rehome, rehabilitate, rescue, keep birds as companions or ALL of these, we will be affected by legislation. Laws and regulations can be as simple as number limits and noise regulations, to bans on breeding and out- right bans on various species. It is vital that all of us be aware of what is happening in our local and state communities as well as the overall federal laws. Remember that just because legislation doesn ’ t specifically say “ birds ” doesn ’ t mean it won ’ t affect us. Bans and restrictions on “ exotics ” can and eventually will in- clude all non - native species. Get to know and keep in touch with your local and state lawmakers – call and visit them during their office hours, offer to aid them in reelection campaigns or community events, provide information on birdkeeping, invite them to bird club/ group meetings. You can find their information including office hours online. ALWAYS be polite and respectful – remember your legislators are people too and have a job to do. Make YOURSELF and the American Federation of Aviculture the source of information on avian and aviculture related topics. An email and phone number should always be provided so the legislator can contact you if necessary. Bring cookies or other treats to meetings. Dress appropriately, as if you were going to an important job interview or meeting. No torn jeans or sneakers please! (Watch for bird poop on the back of your clothes!!) Make “ calling cards ” with the important information to leave with legislators, their staff and assistants. These should include the American Federation of Aviculture web link, your name and contact information. Bring “ leave behind ” documents with important information. These will be available for members soon on the AFA website. - What is AFA? - Current legislation we want to pass or not pass with explanations why it is good/bad for animal own- ership/aviculture. I strongly recommend following and possibly joining USARK (US Association of Reptile Keepers). They have been instrumental in keeping us updated on legislation that affects all of us. Other organizations that keep up on legislation include The Cavalry Group, NAIA (National Animal Interest Alliance, CaRPOC (California Responsible Pet Owners Association), CFA (Cat Fanciers Association). If you ’ re not sure who to contact in your area, here are some links that may help: Who is my legislator?
Governor: https://www.usa.gov/state - governor Senators: https://www.senate.gov/senators/
Congresspersons: https://www.house.gov/representatives/find - your - representative In addition, look up your city or county councilmembers as well as County judge/ sheriff (there may be different designations depending on where you live). This information is all online. Find out who is in charge of your local animal control – there may be more than one; go meet them. NOTE – do NOT provide any information on what you have or how many, or a physical address. Remember that animal RIGHTS is not animal WELFARE. HSUS (Humane Society of the United States) has members in EVERY State Capitol as well as THE Capitol. WE need to be there as well, talking to OUR elected representatives, and provide consistent, correct infor- mation on aviculture and animal ownership.
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If you are interested in finding out how YOUR elected representatives voted on animal related issues, you can use the Legislative Scorecard. This is from the Humane Society Legislative Fund (HSLF) overseen by HSUS (the animal rights organization). HIGH scores are for those who vote for, sponsor, co - sponsor and support animal RIGHTS (not welfare) legislation put forth by those who would end animal ownership. Legislation in progress at this time that may affect us include the following: HR 48 THE AMERICAN SOVEREIGNTY AND SPECIES PROTECTION ACT: THIS ONE WE WANT TO MOVE ON AND PASS – PLEASE ASK YOUR LEGISLATORS TO MOVE THIS OUT OF COMMITTEE AND SUPPORT/ PASS. Right now, it sits in the House Natural Resources Committee https://usark.org/action - alert - h - r - 2603/ “ HR48 “ American Sovereignty and Species Protection Act ” UPDATE from 1/5/21: U.S. Representative Biggs (Arizona) has introduced HR48. This is an act to amend the Endangered Species Act to prevent a species that is not native to the United States from being listed as an endangered species or a threatened species, to prohibit certain types of financial assistance, and for other purposes. HR48 amends the Endangered Species Act by adding this text: “( D) NOT NATIVE SPECIES. The Secre- tary may not determine that a species is an endangered species or a threatened species pursuant to section 4 if such species is not native to the United States. ” HR 48 has been assigned to the Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife under the House Committee on Natural Resources. Read HR48 at https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th - congress/house - bill/48/text. and the SAVES Act as HR930 and S276 UPDATE 2/9/21: The SAVES Act (see details below) has been re - introduced this session in both the Senate and House. S276 and HR930 would amend the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to prohibit the listing of living nonnative species as threatened or endangered species. S276 was introduced by Texas Senator Ted Cruz. HR930 was introduced by Texas Representative Louie Gohmert. We will have more details soon. You can read the bill a https://www.cruz.senate.gov/files/documents/Bills/SAVES%20Act– 117 th%20Congress%20with20Paul.pdf.
HR 263: The Big Cat Safety and Protection Act - OPPOSE https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th - congress/house - bill/263/text
This bill does nothing to protect big cats or the public; they will be taken from their current owners and put into facilities governed by HSUS (GFAS, the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries). When was the last time you heard about a private owner being injured or killed by a big cat? Hmmm … It has happened in zoos and substandard facilities with poorly designed (or no) lockout systems. Also note this is an HSUS spon- sored bill. Animal rights, not animal welfare. Proposed federal ban on non - native species – petition to USFWS and CDC. This is a much newer version of a series of older proposed bans on non - native species. All of those did fail, but this one is much more dangerous as they are using COVID (fear factor) as the basis for “ zoonotic dis- ease ”. This one SPECIFICALLY mentions birds. It is only a petition as of now, but that may change. One to keep an eye on. We do NOT want this to proceed. https://biologicaldiversity.org/w/news/press - releases/federal - ban - sought - to - end - dangerous - trade - in - live - wild - birds - mammals - 2021 - 08 - 03/ In Florida: Updates from USARK (US Association of Reptile Keepers). They are an AWESOME organiza- tion. This proposed bill would prohibit many commonly kept species from being imported to the state. https://usark.org/2021 - lacey/ There may be more updates on the email@example.com, and/or on the website as needed. We need YOUR help to protect aviculture and the birds we love.
AFA Watchbird 5
Understanding Problems with Your Parrot’s Beak By Kimberly Roset, DVM ABC Animal and Bird Clinic Sugarland, Texas Anatomy Overview The psittacine beak is one of the parrot ’ s most recognizable and distinct characteristics. The entire beak is known as the rostrum and can be divided into the upper beak (maxillary rostrum) and lower beak (mandibular rostrum). It consists of bone and internal tissues covered by a thin layer of keratin similar to our fingernails. This keratin layer is what we are able to see, and the upper portion is referred to as the rhinothe- ca while the lower portion is called the gnathotheca. Movement of the beak also makes parrots very unique in the bird world. They can use their beaks to do eve- rything from climbing, cracking nuts, preening feathers, and even carefully peeling the skin off a grape. Un- like many other birds, parrots have independent control of the upper and lower beak which is controlled by numerous bones, muscles, and joints. This complexity can lead to problems if there is an abnormality in- volving any portion of the beak or support structures. The normal parrot beak does not need regular trimming or shaping. Diet and environmental enrichment are all that is needed to maintain a normal appearance and use of the beak. Any overgrowth or loss of symmetry in the keratin of the beak is cause for concern and immediate evaluation by an experienced veterinarian is recommended.
Common Conditions Developmental Abnormalities
Many birds develop abnormal beak alignment during incuba- tion and the resulting beak deformities are often apparent soon after hatching. These present most often as a scissor or elonga- tion of the upper or lower beak. The portions of the beak that do not meet properly will result in keratin overgrowth. If caught early enough, there are surgical procedures that can of- fer some improvement but most of these birds will need correc- tive shaping throughout their lives. Any arthritic changes or imbalance in the joints controlling the movement of the beak can also create an abnormal wear pattern. While both of these cases will need intermittent trimming, adding environmental enrichment which promotes wear can help maintain the normal function of the beak. Young cockatoo with a congenital scissor
Trauma Numerous hazards exist in the environment which can result in injuries to the beak. The most common causes occur from falls, toys, or other birds in the household. Many of these injuries are minor but often pain- ful for the parrot. The most common beak trauma is a chip on the tip of the beak after an unsuccessful flight attempt. These injuries can be diffi- cult to see so evaluation of even minor bleeding should be done to make sure the bird can continue to eat appropriately and the pain is controlled. Some of the most severe beak traumas occur when there is an unfavora- ble interaction between 2 birds in the household .
Beak trauma in a golden conure from a cockatoo
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Any damage to the base of the beak or the underlying bone can result in total destruction of the support structures of the beak and prevent the normal regrowth of keratin. (Fig. 3 and 4)
Figure 4 This red - fronted macaw will require management of the beak long term
Figure 3 Healed trauma to the base of the lower beak in a red - fronted macaw
Many of these cases result in the complete absence of a portion of the beak and permanent disfigurement. Fortunately, our parrot companions are amazing in their capacity to adapt and overcome these injuries if treated quickly and appropriately. Once again, even minor bite injuries should be evaluated by your veterinarian to ensure pain control and to prevent infection at the site of the injury. In the more severe cases, tube feeding for a period of time may be required to allow the wound to heal. Birds that suffer a traumatic amputation of the entire maxillary rostrum can recover and learn to manage their new circumstance. (Fig. 5 and 6) The extreme forces and complexity of the parrot beak will prevent the successful use of prosthetic beak replacements but with a modified diet and routine management of the remaining beak, a bird can enjoy a great quality of life.
Figure 6 The conure in Figure 5 one year after the traumatic injury to the upper beak.
Figure 5 Traumatic amputation of the upper beak in a green - cheek conure
(continued on page 8)
AFA Watchbird 7
Infection Numerous viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic diseases can inter- rupt the normal growth and use of the beak. Many of these condi- tions can look similar so careful evaluation of any changes in growth is required. Thorough diagnostic testing is often required to determine the specific cause so treatment can be successful. A common condition seen in some of our smaller parrot species such as budgerigars is caused by the Scaly Leg and Face mite ( Knemidocoptes ). This disease can lead to significant abnormal growth of the keratin on the beak. If caught early, this mite can be successfully eradicated, and normal beak growth will return. Per- manent keratin abnormality may need ongoing beak management. (Fig. 7)
Figure 7 Severe infection with Knemidocoptes in a budgerigar
Bacterial and fungal infections associated with the beak are also common and should be managed as quick- ly as possible. Any discoloration or soft areas ( Fig. 8 ) noticed in the keratin of the beak should be evaluat- ed immediately as delay in treatment can lead to more severe disease and damage to the beak ( Fig. 9 ). Some beak infections cannot be treated successfully, and a parrot ’ s quality of life must be considered. Psit- tacine Beak and Feather Disease is a virus that interrupts the normal growth of the keratin of the beak and can lead to a painful and chronic abnormality of the beak. These birds typically have feather abnormalities and due to the contagious nature of this devastating disease, immediate quarantine and testing of suspected birds is essential.
Other Diseases Any condition that affects the overall health of a bird can result in an abnormal growth of the kera- tin of the beak. Parrots fed predominately seed diets are often deficient in nutrients such as Vita- min A which will adversely affect normal keratin production. Diseases involving the liver can mani- fest as beak abnormalities. In rare cases, tumors can arise from any portion of the beak and result in an interruption of the normal structure of the beak. Conclusion A healthy beak is critical to maintaining the overall health and well - being of a parrot. Careful inspec- tion of the beak is important and any change in color, shape, or use should be discussed with an experienced veterinarian. Prompt treatment of any beak disorder is critical to maintaining the normal function.
Figure 8 Bacterial infection on the upper beak of a half - moon conure
8 Volume XLVIX ● January 2022
Figure 9 Permanent disfig- urement of the upper beak on an amazon parrot after a severe beak infection
Happy Retirement, Frosty! Frosty, the Sulphur - crested Cockatoo, has seen a lot in his almost 86 years. Hatched June 3, 1936, he was trained in Folsom State Prison in California as part of an inmate rehabilitation program. When the program ended, Frosty moved to the Sarasota Jungle Gardens in Florida in 1972. Even before his time in Sarasota, Frosty was quite the celebrity. During the 1960s, he frequently made appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show and the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, sharing the stage with the likes of Sammy Davis, Jr., Charlton Heston and other celebrities.
During his entertaining days, Frosty could be seen riding his tiny unicy- cle along a tightrope with another bird suspended on the trapeze below or navigating around in his little scooter. Recently retired from his entertaining duties at the Jungle Gardens, Frosty still enjoys dancing and aerobic exercises with his trainers. Pictures and story courtesy of Sarasota Jungle Gardens
AFA Watchbird 9
By Constance Woodman, PhD. Conservation Grants Manager, Texas A&M University
Once, my African grey parrot hen got stuck inside a loop of chain. She chewed away a circle of pine wood squares while I was work. When I came home, I found my bird frozen in panic, the chain around her chest, slowly spinning from the c - clip! Luckily, I had two pairs of pliers and was able to open one of the chain links and free my bird. After that, I have been very careful about loops and strings in bird toys. Paper bird toys allow for safer play. Long and thin strips of paper tear before they can wrap up and tan- gle or choke a bird. Ring and donut shapes, or shapes with cut out holes, are also safer. When the bird puts a head or leg through an opening, the pa- per will give way when the bird tries to pull it off. Similar shapes made of metal, plastic, or cotton
be cut with a paper cutter and used for foraging. Easy to fold boxes with fun cut - out shapes on the lids may be for candy in the eyes of a paper crafter but they are prime foraging boxes to me!
Design for the pop up foraging basket
Paper cutting craft machines are becoming popular and more affordable. The Cricut Joy, a mini paper cutting machine, costs $122 USD. Using these ma- chines, people normally make pop up cards, scrap- book frames, or t - shirt iron - ons. I use my paper cut- ting machine to make bird toys! Choosing a machine can be about the features of the paper cutting machine or about their design soft- ware. I have a Silhouette brand machine because I liked their software more than the Cricut brand ’ s software. Tracing images from the internet is very fast and easy to do on the Silhouette software ’ s free version. The company charges extra to be able to open a common drawing filetype called an SVG, requiring you to buy the paid for version of their software. The Cricut company ’ s free design soft- ware can open SVG files. However, it is more com- plicated to trace images and clipart using Cricut. Cricut pushes users to buy their paid subscription to do certain kinds of tracing.
string can pose a real danger. A benefit of pop - up or folding paper toys is that hundreds can lay flat in a drawer without taking much space. When it is time to use the toys, they are hung, popped up, or stretched open. Fold - and - serve foraging boxes have been for sale for a long time. Caitec ’ s Creative Foraging Systems has a plastic frame that holds cardboard boxes. With my paper cutter I can make custom boxes out of harder cardboard or softer paper, depending on how heavy birds are chewing. Searching online for “ treat box pattern ” will show all kinds of example that can This paper foraging basket tore safely into pieces after the baby bird wrestled with it, without trapping a foot or head.
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Because I like to trace my own photos and drawings on my computer, I find the Silhouette software better for me. If I wanted to run software off my phone, and download mostly ready - to - cut designs, the Cricut brand software would be better for me. To keep it safe for the birds, I do not use glitter paper, glow in the dark paper, holographic paper, or sticker paper. I use colored cardstock that I buy in packs of 100 12x12 inch sheets. Some of the paper toys I make and use I have online for others to download and use, including nature shapes, a 3D gyroscope sculpture, tessellating shapes, and the design in this article. https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4167556
After tearing a stretchy paper ring chain from the ceiling, this rose - breasted cockatoo car- ried the chains around until there was nothing but confetti left. Design for stretchy pa- per rings with built in hooks lets the paper rings attach to each other and o colorful flower charm.
Design for paper ring chain
A foraging box design which is folded Into pasta puzzles
When I am making a lot of paper toys for breeding bird collec- tions of weaning babies, I cut shapes that “ tesselate ”, meaning they fit together perfectly so less paper is wasted when cutting the toys. Some people make tessellations as a hobby. I can search online, then trace the images they share. A tessellation can create 30 - 80 hanging bird toys from a single sheet of card- stock. If I add a hanging hook, then the toy can be hung from the caging. If I buy cardstock on sale, then each hanging shred- der costs me about 0.008 cents worth of paper!
AFA Watchbird 11
Puffins in Peril: Conserving the Clowns of the Sea
By Deb Dial, Assistant Curator National Aquarium Baltimore, Maryland
The National Aquarium, located in Baltimore ’ s In- ner Harbor, Maryland, USA, has been a respected home to many avian species for over 40 years. One of these species, the Atlantic puffin ( Fratercula arc- tica ), nestled in the Aquarium ’ s Sea Cliffs habitat, has been a hallmark species since opening in 1981. The Aquarium ’ s mission is to inspire the conserva- tion of the world's aquatic treasures and the Atlantic puffin is one of those riches in need of protection. Atlantic puffins have diverse habitat needs, skies for open flight, healthy oceans for overwintering and food, along with safe and protected nesting areas. Over the years, puffin populations have suffered many setbacks and required targeted interventions. Today, the National Aquarium ’ s commitment to the Atlantic puffin continues and after decades of providing care, we have used our experiences to benefit both the wild populations [AS1] and the wel- fare of puffins in human care. Natural History From the order Charadriiformes and the family Al- cidae, there are four species of puffins: Horned puf- fin ( Fratercula corniculata ), Tufted puffin ( Fratercula cirrhata ), Rhinoceros auklet ( Cerorhinca monocerata ), and Atlantic puffin ( Fratercula arctica ).
As their name suggests, Atlantic puffins are endem- ic to the North Atlantic Ocean and they are the only species of puffin found on the East Coast of North America. There are three recognized subspecies of Atlantic puffins: Fratercula arctica arctica , F.a. naumanni and F.a. grabae. The nominate, F. a. arc- tica , is endemic to Iceland, Norway, Greenland, and the Northeast coast of North America. The most dis- tinct subspecies is F. a. naumanni, which can be found in Greenland and is larger than the other two subspecies. F. a. grabae, the smallest subspecies, can be found in the British Isles, Faroe Islands, France, the English Channel Islands and Norway. (Walker and Meijer, 2021). As a pelagic species, puffins spend the majority of the year on the open ocean and have been observed overwintering in this habitat from August to April. Mature individuals return to land to nest during the breeding season from April to August. Despite the Atlantic puffins[AS2] large range and sizable colo- nies, there is still not much known about migration during the non - breeding months when puffins return to the sea (Lowther et al, 2020). It is predictable that the puffins are driven by sea surface temperatures and fish patterns (Huettmann, 2000).
Male Note the black & white bands on the head and chest
Rhinoceros Auklet Photo by Dick Daniels www.carolinabirds.org Wikimedia Commons
Tufted Puffin Photo by Wikipedia
Atlantic Puffin Photo by Deb Dial National Aquarium
Horned Puffin Photo by Wikipedia
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Prior to breeding season, puffins transform from their subdued winter gray and black plumage to their more distinct “ Clown of the Sea ” breeding ap- pearance. Their lightly colored legs brighten to a
Puffins in Trouble Atlantic puffin populations in the East Coast of the United States have been on a roller coaster of de- cline and recovery for at least the last 200 years. Puffins have historically fallen victim to human im- pacts such as overfishing, egging, baiting, feather hunts, and the rise of natural predators like gulls. On the southernmost edge of the natural population range, puffins historically nested on coastal islands off Maine. During the 1800s, hunters collected birds in large numbers directly from the islands. There are many disturbing and descriptive accounts of herring nets covering puffin burrows to capture the animals as they exited their nests (Kress and Jack- son, 2020). Seabirds were targeted heavily. “ With the rise of commercial fishing, island sanctuaries became slaughterhouses. Prized for their eggs, feathers, oil, and flesh, seabirds were decimated by fishermen and their dependents. ” [AS3] (Bolster, 2008). By the late 19th century, puffins were nearly extinct from Maine ’ s coast. Unfortunately, despite protections including hiring wardens to protect the birds, state and federal laws, and the distinction of National Wildlife Refuges, puffins did not return naturally. Even decades later, there were just a few dozen pairs in the Gulf of Maine, leaving the population too small to be sus- tainable against natural threats (Kress and Jackson, 2020).
Photo by Aimee Milarski
bold orange. Their dull gray cheeks molt into an illuminating white. Bill plates and eye ornaments develop and their rictal roseates swell. Puffins even molt their primary and secondary feathers, leaving them flightless for a span of time. Although the tim- ing of this process is not greatly understood and seems to vary geographically, it appears birds are flightless for approximately one month. It is be- lieved that the birds must be out on open water dur- ing this time to escape predators and this happens between September and March. (Gaston & Jones, 1998). (See Figure 1 Molt Sequence page 14) Puffins are socially monogamous with breeding site fidelity and typically return to the location where they were reared (Gaston & Jones, 1998). The mon- omorphic pairs share nest building for the single egg and chick rearing duties equally. The precocial chick hatches after an incubation period of 36 to 45 days. Over the next 35 days, the chick ’ s warm natal down will give way to pennaceous feathers. At the time of fledging, chicks will be mostly waterproof apart from some animals that may have tufts of downy feathers remaining on the head or back (Vernooij, 2016). (Figure 2 Feather Development page 15)
Atlantic puffin chick ‘ Orzo ’ Hatched September 19, 2021
Photo by Kirby Pitchford
(continued on page 16)
AFA Watchbird 13
Figure 1 Illustrated by Christopher Smith and scientific content by Deb Dial.
14 Volume XLVIX ● January 2022
Figure 2 Illustrated by Lauren Rakes and text by Deb Dial.
caused sharp declines in survivability, notably a de- crease from an average of 77 percent chick fledge rate to just 31 percent fledge rate annually. Legisla- tion has reduced the legal take of the herring by fisheries and prohibits the use of trawls near shore that disrupt spawning. (Weinstein, 2021). Unfortu- nately, climate change is warming ocean waters,
(continued from page 13) In 1973, Dr. Stephen Kress founded Project Puffin and over the years he relocated young puffins to the islands and launched innovative approaches to re - establishing Atlantic puffin colonies to their ances- tral nesting habitats. Kress began with the transloca- tion of puffin chicks and constructing artificial bur-
causing some fish species, including Atlantic herring to move away from puffin nesting locations (Kress, Shannon, and O ’ Neal, 2017) This sea surface tem- perature (SST) change and the associated shifts in prey items like (e.g., herring) demonstrates why puffins are particularly susceptible to such environmental changes (Durant et al. 2003).
rows, continuing to adjust his methodology as he gained more experience. Possibly most notable was his successful use of social attraction, a method which uses social cues to attract animals to an area. By us- ing some combination of decoys, mirrors, sounds and artificial nests, the puffins viewed the habitats as suit- able. Kress and the efforts of other biologists saw great payoff with numbers in- creasing in the Gulf of Maine. For example, Ma-
Photos by Deb Dial
chias Seal Island saw a population surge from 60 birds in 1883 to 3,000 pairs in 1999. Another near- by island, increased from 1 pair in 1902 to more than 200 pairs in 2002 (Lowther et al, 2020) Modern Day Puffins Although puffin populations have experienced steady recovery on the North Atlantic coast for most years, today ’ s wild puffin populations are now at risk from overfishing by commercial fisheries, climate change and other human impacts. Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) is a keystone species and one of the puffins ’ preferred nestling food. Commercial fisheries overfished herring in the Gulf of Maine, causing puffins to shift to butter- fish ( Peprilus triacanthus ) to feed their chicks. Re- searchers noticed declines in chick survival and were able to determine that the size and shape of the butterfish were inappropriate for chicks. This
Editor ’ s Note: The AFA conference is in the Washington DC area this year. Consider coming early or staying after and paying a visit to the National Aquarium. It is only about an hour away by car from the hotel and is located at Baltimore ’ s Inner Harbor. The Inner Harbor is a historic seaport, tourist attraction, and landmark of the city of Baltimore, Maryland.
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Anthropogenic hazards like oil spills are a con- stant risk to harming large numbers of puffins at one time, particularly during breeding season when they are concentrated near sea islands. A contamination event would not only harm the indi- viduals but would also compromise the food sup- ply. The colonies of seabirds in the Gulf of Maine have not encountered such an event, but a puffin colony off the coast of France suffered a loss of more than 2,000 pairs following oil contamination in 1967, and again lost over 1,300 in a second event in 1978 (Lowther et al, 2020). The Atlantic puffin ’ s conservation status (at the time of this publication) is listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The most recent population as- sessment estimates that between the years of 2000 and 2065, there will be a decrease in European puffins that ranges from 50% to 79%. This rapid decline is suspected from a combination of food shortages, invasive species, pollution, and adult mortalities in fishing nets . (2021)
Penguin vs. Puffin Both are seabirds and share a black and white color scheme with a colorful beak, spend much of their lives on water but breed and socialize on land, have similar breeding habits and face threats posed by humans and climate change. However, their differences are quite striking. Penguins belong to the family Spheniscidae which includes only the 18 different species of penguins while puffins are part of the family Alcidae which includes other birds such as murres and auklets. Puffins can fly as opposed to penguins that are too heavy for flight and have wing bones fused straight, making them rigid and powerful like a flipper. All but one species of penguin make their homes in the Southern hemisphere while puffins live on rocky coasts in the Northern hemisphere. Penguins stay with their mate for life but puffins reunite with their partner each year at the breeding site. Puffins range in size from 10 to 15 inches fully grown and penguins come in various shapes and sizes from 15 inches to al- most 4 feet tall. References: National Marine Sanctuary Foundation
(continued on page 18)
Photo by Aimee Milarski
AFA Watchbird 17
(continued from page 17)
Puffins at the National Aquarium Puffins in human - care provide information that benefit their wild counterparts as well as ensure a genetically diverse population in the event there is catastrophic decline or extirpation. The National Aquarium has been able to contribute to data collection and research projects that directly benefit wild populations. For example, in 2014, the Aquarium ’ s puffins were able to participate in a test fitting of newly minted ‘ puffin - sized' Global Posi- tion System (GPS) tags. These tags needed to be worn by animals to ensure they were not going to obstruct natural behaviors. Several agencies devel- oped the procedures and in conjunction with the Aquarium ’ s own team of aviculturists, the animals in - care were able to safely wear the tags. These tests were instrumental in providing researchers and field biologists valuable information before deploy- ing the units on puffins from the Gulf of Maine. As an Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited facility, the National Aquarium also par- ticipates in the Atlantic puffin ( Fratercula arctica ) Species Survival Plan ® (SSP). Experts manage the plan and produce breeding recommendations for each individual of the species within the program. The programs are collaborative endeavors between AZA and each accredited facility to assess genetic diversity and demographics in the population. To date, the SSP has 132 Atlantic puffins and the National Aquarium has proudly participated by suc- cessfully hatching 18 chicks since 2006 to join the program! Continued Efforts Atlantic puffins are a dynamic seabird that deserve to thrive. Their populations are particularly suscep- tible to human activities which is evident in the de- cline of wild populations historically. To ensure we have robust puffin populations, we must continue to strive for the best welfare for animals in care and continuous monitoring of populations in the wild.
Deb Dial and friend
Photo by Aimee Milarski
Citations Burnham, K., Burnham, J., Johnson, J. and Huffman, A., 2021. Mi- gratory movements of Atlantic puffins Fratercula arctica naumanni from high Arctic Greenland. PLOS ONE , 16(5), p.e0252055. Durant, J.; Anker - Nilssen, T.; Stenseth, N. C. 2003. Trophic interac- tions under climate fluctuations: the Atlantic puffin as an example. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B 270: 1461 - 1466. Gaston, A. J., & Jones, I. L.,(1998,). The auk: Alcidae. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press Greenbaum, A., 2018. Seabirds Care Manual. Association of Zoos and Aquariums Huettmann, F. 2000. Environmental determination of seabird distri- bution patterns off eastern and arctic Canada. PhD Thesis, Univ. of New Brunswick, Fredericton. Kress, S. and Jackson, D., 2020. The Puffin Plan Restoring Seabirds to Egg Rock and Beyond . 1st ed. Boston, MA: Tumblehome, Inc, pp.15 - 30 Kress, S., Shannon, P. and O ’ Neal, C., 2017. Recent changes in the diet and survival of Atlantic puffin chicks in the face of climate change and commercial fishing in midcoast Maine, USA. FACETS , 1 (1), pp.27 - 43 Lowther, P., Diamond, A., Kress, S., Robertson, G., Russell, K., Nettleship, D., Kirwan, G., Christie, D., Sharpe, C., Garcia, E. and Boesman, P., 2020. Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica). Birds of the World , Birdsoftheworld.org. 2021. [online] Available at: <https:// birdsoftheworld.org/bow/species/atlpuf/cur/distribution> [Accessed 10 December 2021]. Walker, S. and Meijer, H., 2021. Size variation in mid - Holocene North Atlantic Puffins indicates a dynamic response to climate change. PLOS ONE , 16(2), p.e0246888. Weinstein, A., 2021. More Food on the Table for New England's Puffins and Terns . [online] Audubon. Available at: <https:// www.audubon.org/news/more - food - table - new - englands - puffins - and - terns> [Accessed 5 December 2021].
18 Volume XLVIX ● January 2022
by Debbie Schweikardt
How many species of macaws are there?
Can you name them?
Find the answer on page 30
Not counting the 3 species that are extinct
Cuban ca. 1885
Lesser Antillean (hypothetical)
25 day old chick
Phoenix, a golden conure, loves perusing his Watcbird. Make sure you don’t miss a single issue - join AFA Watchbird is published 4 times a year. Owner Dr. Susan Clubb, DVM Picture courtesy of Terry Timberlake
AFA Watchbird 19
Community Education is Helping to Save the Scarlet Macaw in Mexico by Rick Jordan, Rodrigo Leon, Sebastian Arriaga and Janice Boyd, PhD
Scarlet macaws in southern Mexico have had a tough history. In the early to mid - 1900s the spe- cies was still plentiful throughout the country, from southern Mexico and into northern Guatema- la. Fragmentation of the habitat occurred as large tracts of forest were harvested in Mexico ’ s rain- forest leaving dwindling tracts along the coasts and only a very small area of intact rainforest along the very southern border. This area is known as the Lacandon Jungle or Rainforest. It is a riparian utopia and the last hope and home to parrots, toucans, lizards, crocodiles, jaguars, oce- lots, margays, tapirs, blue morpho butterflies and more. In the midst of this last jungle is a small communi- ty known as Chahul. Directly across the river from this little town is the small biologist ’ s com- pound, the Chahul Biological Station. This is the epicenter for scarlet macaw conservation in south- ern Mexico. A small team of biologists struggle to save the last wild populations of the species fighting, poaching, deforestation, lack of govern- ment and apathy from a community that has relied on the land to survive for generations. Although this last area of forest is protected as a national reserve, some of the local people are laying claim to tracts of land and are constantly clearing trees to farm or make a residence. One of the biggest obstacles to conserving the par- rots in this area is an almost “ acceptable ” cultural practice of poaching baby macaws to be sold to wildlife traders. Generation after generation of fathers teaching sons how to climb the huge Ceiba trees to take the chicks has instilled a sort - of tradi- tion in many families looking for an easy way to make money. In most cases they are residents that do not own land or have paying work. This ac- ceptance of the practice has made conservation education very difficult in the community. The
latest program objectives by the biologists at the Chahul station include education and instilling pride in the people and a new appreciation for the scarlet macaws of Chahul. Biologists Rodrigo Leon, Sebastian Arriaga, Die- go Noriega, Fiorela Ortiz, Paulina Arroyo, and a few others work tirelessly to assure the survival of chicks hatched in the wild. Although their primary objective is to guard nests from poachers, some- times it is necessary to take a chick and raise it at the station in order to interrupt the cycle of poach- ing and eventual sale to wildlife traders. Chicks raised at the station are released immediately after they fledge and can eat native foods for survival. This method has resulted in over 200 birds being reintroduced back into the local population. The program has been so successful that Natura Mexi- cana is seeking other release sites for the macaws because the number of birds in the area of Chahul is reaching a stable population point. One of the most important aspects of in situ con- servation is the education of the local inhabitants. This is especially true in an area where poaching is a way of life for some. Recognizing that educa- tion and respect for wildlife must start at a young age, the biologists from Chahul have initiated a program for young children ages 6 - 13 in the local
Rodrigo Leon observes as young Guacaguardianes receive instructions
20 Volume XLVIX ● January 2022
town. This program is strictly voluntary, but many kids show up each month for the presentations about the scarlet macaws, and to hear the biologists speak about the birds and their breeding biology. The key to success in this area is to have the kids involved with the conservation efforts. With this in
the children are rewarded with new notebooks, t - shirts depicting their status as Guacaguardianes, a hat with the Guacaguardianes logo, and when they have accomplished most of the assigned tasks, they are given their pin depicting them as official guard- ians of the Scarlet macaw. So far, the parents have been very receptive to the education and have encouraged their children to attend meetings. The parents have also reported that their children follow birds all around the neigh- borhoods. New goals are now being discussed to expand the program out a bit further into other small communities near the station. Biologists have reported that there have been changes in the local attitudes toward the birds. There is a definite decrease in the number of kids shooting at birds with slingshots and a few artists have depicted the logo of the Guacaguardianes onto buildings around town Funding for this program and other anti - poaching education is very limited. The US Fish and Wild- life Service has awarded some funding through March of 2022 under the US Endangered Species Act, but corporate Mexico has not responded to re- quests for funds as of yet. As parrot lovers we can help. Natura Mexicana is in need of donations to keep this program and others going. There are plans to buy binoculars for the children that show an in- terest in continued preservation of the macaws in southern Mexico. To help fight poaching and encourage conservation in the communities where the last of the Scarlet macaws fly, you can donate through the PayPal email address below. You can earmark your funds for the Scarlet macaws by putting a note in your PayPal donation. https://www.paypal.com/donate/?cmd=_s - xclick&hosted_button_id=7VGCAB6WN8KLA
Rodrigo Leon teaches children of the community about the scarlet macaws.
mind, a program was designed where kids can earn the status of “ Guacaguardianes ” or Macaw Guards, and receive rewards based on their sightings and records of birds in the area. The first lesson these children are taught is that the scarlet macaw represents Mexico, and they are fast becoming extinct due to the activities of the illegal trade. They learn that poaching, agriculture, clear- ing forests, and cutting Ceiba trees is resulting in a sharp decline in the number of scarlet macaws that fly free in Mexico. They are all given a notebook and told how to take notes on the birds they see in the community during their day at school and in the evenings in their free time. The kids have reported sightings of birds during feeding times, and some have followed birds to their nesting sites to report on their nesting habits as well. Biologists can use the information to map out how far from the station the birds travel for food or nest sites. Some chil- dren even report if they can see a leg ring on the birds they followed. Activities during their meeting might include such tasks as making drawings of the birds or doing a count of how many birds they may have recorded in one day as a group. When funding is available,
AFA Watchbird 21
Looking Back . . . .
by Fred Smith
The AFA Disaster Relief Program has been working to assist those bird owners impacted by various disas- ters since hurricane Andrew back in 1992. The Disaster Relief Fund has been supported by donations from individuals, bird clubs and bird supply com- panies and others. The American Federation of Aviculture does not charge any administrative fees for the monies received, therefore 100% donated is used to assist those in need during a natural disaster whether members or not. I remember that phone call from the AFA President Dr. Benny Galloway 17 years ago in 2004 appointing me as AFA Disaster Relief Coordinator. Florida had just been hit with hurricane Charlie and with many bird facilities located within the central and southern areas of the state suffering great damage, I needed to organize a group of volunteers to assist those in need. I immediately got on the internet and asked the bird world to contact me if they were in need or knew of someone needing assistance or if they could help. Dr. Susan Clubb started checking on her clients to see who needed assistance then she contacted me with their names and addresses. Several breeders and individuals started calling offering to help. I began compiling a list of those needing assistance and telling the volunteers where to meet me. Since there had not been any major disasters since hurricane Andrew, we needed to start raising money for the disaster program. The volunteers and I worked until dark each day and then I would once again get on the internet and update what was being done and that the program needed donations. Immediately donations started coming in from everywhere. Bird lovers al- ways help others when the need arises. As I recall, the first donation was a check from the Virgin Islands for $500! Since that day thousands of dollars have been donated. AFA can be very proud of those who have supported the organization in so many ways. I had a friend who had filled his barns with rolls of cage wire when he bought out the remaining inventory of a wire company that had gone out of business in Tampa. He lived 20 miles away so I called him asking if he would sell me some rolls for AFA Disaster Relief. After quoting me a very low price we loaded my trailer with several rolls. As I went to pay him, he told me since it was AFA helping other bird lovers in need he would take another $100 off per roll! Due to his age, he couldn't physically help, so this was his way of sup- porting AFA. One Friday evening after I had gotten home from helping build temporary cages for birds, I received a call from a longtime AFA supporter, Dwight Greenberg. He said he would be off work on Saturday and offered to help me with those impacted by hurricane Charlie. Very early the next morning we headed back down to south Florida. After working all day cutting trees off the tops of Amazon cages, we drove to Punta Gorda to check out the conditions and see who might need help there. As we approached Punta Gorda, we saw the hospital parking lot with several hospital tents set up due to the hospital roof being destroyed. On down the street we came to a lot where a house had been before Charlie removed it. There was nothing there but concrete steps that lead to what had been the front door. On the steps sat an elderly couple, apparently the owners, possibly thinking about what had been their home. As we slowly drove down the street, we saw people just walking. Nowhere to go but just walking as if in a daze. As we approached the next property, we both began to cry. There was a white house … The front walls and roof were gone. Insulation lay on what was a kitchen countertop and a table. There was a bed- room next to the kitchen. The clothes closet door was missing but the clothes had already been straightened in a neat row. In the kitchen we saw a lady sweeping the floor, despite the front wall being missing! As we drove out of town we noticed those high tension towers way up in the air with house insulation hanging on the wires.
22 Volume XLVIX ● January 2022
The following Monday I loaded up with supplies and headed back south to help more bird lovers. I was told of a young lady who had birds and needed help. When I got to the property out in the country, I met the lady who had not heard of The American Federation of Aviculture, or its disaster relief program. There were blue tarps covering her new house and as she took me to the back of the property she started crying as she showed me her bird building approximately 75 ft long and 20 ft wide. The front 25 ft was twisted and nearly on the ground which had housed her macaws. Their cages had been pulled out but the remainder of the building was leaning so much that her husband had told her to not go in to feed her smaller birds as he left for work. She said they hadn't been fed for 2 days. I started looking for fence posts and any loose boards to prop the building walls. I asked if there were any farmers around who might have a tractor with a loader. She contact- ed one who came down and we put the loader against the building to support it while she went in and fed and watered her birds. A few had perished but most survived. Jerry Johnson, another long time AFA supporter and I then went back the next morning with enough materials to secure the end of building because of the many bobcats in the area. The building was now secured so she could safely enter. Since the storm had de- stroyed her supply of bird food, all she could find was 50# of wild bird seed for $7.00 to feed her Macaws. I was so glad that I had parrot food in my truck boxes donated by a seed company to give her. After resting the next day, a Sunday, on Monday morning we loaded the trailer with more supplies and head- ed out to help more people with their birds ’ needs. 'Get prepared' was the words coming out of the truck ra- dio. Another hurricane was headed toward Florida! What? I thought not another one. It's only been a week and a half since the last one! Little did we know there would be 4 hurricanes within 6 weeks to hit Florida! As the news began to spread, some of those breeders who had volunteered to help others were calling to say they could no longer help because they had to prepare for a storm heading in their direction! The 4th hurricane was reportedly heading out to sea and Florida would be spared. As I was driving back home late that evening, I received a phone call from Dwight Greenberg asking if I was going to be alright. I stated that I was tired but doing fine. "No, I mean the hurricane, it has made a circle in the ocean and is head- ing to Tampa"! It's heading to my place! I hurried home and started preparing my own birds for a disaster! Hurricanes aren't the only disaster's that AFA's Disaster Relief Program has dealt with. The western fires have been horrific to those who live in the western states. California has suffered it's share of fires as well as Oregon, Washington and other states. Many times a change of wind direction can be a matter of saving everything or losing everything! Most times roads are closed to outside help, so those with a number of birds are left to evacuate by themselves. I do know of cases where bird lover's have driven through field after field to reach someone in need of extra help to evacuate! When a large river climbs out of its banks and travels far into an area of nice bird facili- ties, within minutes it's a matter of saving or losing everything! In all these cases, The American Federation of Aviculture's Disaster Relief Program is prepared to fly into action to help all of those needing assistance with their birds. With the thousands of birds that have been challenged by a natural disaster over these many years, their care- givers know that the AFA Disaster Relief team will be there when we ’ re needed! All that the Disaster Team has accomplished was only made possible because of the donations of supplies, manpower and money by you AFA supporters! After all, AFA CARES for the birds! This is our motto and We're Sticking To It!
Visit the AFA website if you would like to contribute to the AFA Disaster Relief Fund
https://afabirds.org/2018_WordPress/store/Donate - Now - p195510266
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