Increasing Survival of Wild Macaw Chicks Using Foster Parents and Supplemental Feeding Academic Article uri icon


  • The use of foster parents has great potential to help the recovery of highly endangered bird species. However, few studies have shown how to successfully use these techniques in wild populations. Scarlet Macaws (Ara macao macao) in Perú hatch 2–4 chicks per nest but about 24% of all chicks die of starvation and on average just 1.4 of them fledge per successful nest. In this study we develop and test new techniques to increase survival of wild Scarlet Macaw chicks by reducing chick starvation. We hypothesized that using foster parents would increase the survival of chicks at risk of starvation and increase overall reproductive success. Our results show that all relocated macaw chicks were successfully accepted by their foster parents (n = 28 chicks over 3 consecutive breeding seasons) and 89% of the relocated chicks fledged. Overall, we increased fledging success per available nest from 17% (2000 to 2016 average) to 25% (2017 to 2019) and decreased chick death by starvation from 19% to 4%. These findings show that the macaw foster parents technique and post relocation supplemental feeding provide a promising management tool to aid wild parrot population recovery in areas with low reproductive success.

altmetric score

  • 11.85

author list (cited authors)

  • Vigo-Trauco, G., Garcia-Anleu, R., & Brightsmith, D. J.

citation count

  • 0

publication date

  • March 2021