The Parrotlet Project-Venezuela (2)


Conducted by Great Wilderness' Research Directo, Dr. Karl Berg, the Parrotlet Project represents a diverse collaboration that expands on decades of avian research and natural resource conservation in the Llanos of Venezuela. Our goal is to integrate long-term demographic models into regional conservation tools, by continuing a 22-year study of reproduction and demography in a marked population of parrots. Our ongoing study of parrotlets at Masaguaral is focused on basic biology, population ecology and behavior.

Breeding and demography have been documented at this site every year since 1988, resulting in the banding of over 7600 individuals, detailed monitoring of 2600 nesting attempts and over 40,000 replicate sightings of individuals (Beissinger and Waltman 1991, Budden and Beissinger 2005, S. R. Beissinger, unpublished data).

As a result, the study represents the most vivid picture of any wild parrot and is one of the longest ongoing studies of any tropical bird. The Llanos is vast wetland of South America that provides habitat for huge numbers of birds, mammals, fish and other wildlife. However, conversion to agriculture, pollution and overhunting are serious threats to biodiversity.

Project Goals and Objectives

· Understand long-term dynamics in vertebrate populations.
· Foster sustainability of long-term ecological monitoring
· Contribute to comprehensive conservation strategy


Demographic monitoring.-

Field work is centered at Hato Masaguaral, a cattle ranch and biological research station located near the town of Calabozo, state of Guarico, Venezuela. Research follows established protocols in three nest box breeding populations that have been closely monitored since 1988.

The 110 nest boxes are dispersed over 3 km of disjoint fence-lines that traverse seasonally flood grasslands and gallery forest.

Food abundance and plant phenology.- Density and seed production estimates are obtained for seven plant species important to the parrotlets: Croton hirtus, C. miguelensis, C. spp. cf, Hyptis lanceolata, H. sauveolens.

Radio telemetry.- Our mark-resighting and mark-recapture effort provides coarse level information on movements of some individuals but do not account for predation or emigration events.

Education, Trainning, and Conservation

We are committed in developing local and regional ecosystem-preservation and conservation capability, through participatory agricultural, economic and social development projects.

The Great Wilderness partnership with Hato Masaguaral, Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Cientificas, Universad Central de Venezuela, Universdiad Simon Bolivar, Universidad Central, Fundacion Fudena, U. C. Berkeley and Cornell University is committed to the development of appropriate technologies to advance ecosystem restoration and support basic natural science research and education in Venezuela as well as facilitate communication between conservation organizations, farmers, scientists, and resource managers.

The Parrotlet project and proposed Center will make a positive contribution to biodiversity conservation in the llanos of Venezuela, as well as showcase the potential for our grassroots community development and participatory resource management models to make a wider impact in conservation of tropical ecosystems worldwide.

Research Assistants needed for our field season 2018 

Four field assistants are required, two from 1 June -– 15 August and two more from 1 September - 15 December 2018 to work as part of a team on a long term study of behavior and demography of the Green-rumped Parrotlet.  Duties will include mist netting, banding and resighting, nest checking, behavioral observations, audio-video monitoring, playback experiments and keeping detailed records.  The ideal candidate would:  have experience conducting field research with birds in tropical ecosystems; be interested in avian behavioral ecology; be willing to work long hours six days per week; enjoy work in a hot, humid environment; have a sunny disposition and be able to live under primitive conditions with few people on an isolated ranch; have a working knowledge of Spanish and a driver’s license; be able to work without supervision; and enjoy but not become too distracted by the fabulous avifauna of the Llanos.  Please submit resume, and phone numbers/email of three referees to Karl Berg: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and/or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Related videos:

National Geographic:

The Lab of Ornithology at Cornell:


News from our ex research assistants: (More...)

Related scientific publications:

1. Berg, K.S., Beissinger, S. R. and Bradbury, J. W. (2013). Factor shaping the ontogeny of vocal signals in a wild parrot. The Journal of Experimental Biology. 338-345

2. Berg, K. S., Delgado, S. Cortopassi, K. A, Beissinger, S. R. and Bradbury, J. W. (2012). Vertical transmission of learned signatures in a wild parrot. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B. 279, 585-591.

3. Berg, K. S., Delgado, S. Okawa, R., Beissinger, S. R. and Bradbury, J. W. (2011). Contact calls are used for individual mate recognition in free-ranging green-rumped parrotlets (Forpus passerinus). Anim. Behav. 81, 241-248.


1. Science Magazine

Why Parrots Talk? Venezuela site offers clues:

Science 22 July 2011: vol. 333 no. 6041 pp. 398-400. DOI: 10.1126/science.333.6041.398


2. Science Now

Parrotlet Chicks Learn their calls form Mom and Dad:

3. Discover Magazine

Baby Parrots Learn their Names from their Parents:

4. Cornell Chronicle

Parrots give name to their nestlings:


Welcome, Everyone


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 Volunteer and Internship Program

Our goal is to support, strengthen and enhance our partners conservation program by sending individuals interested in working and supporting the protection of Ecuador and Venezuela native forest and ecosystems. (Read more)


The Parrotlet Project


Do Parrots Name Their Babies?

While studying Green-rumplet Parrolets in Venezuela, National Geographic Explorer and Great Wilderness Board member, Dr. Karl Berg, discovered an incredibly rare behavior.

The Parrolet Project (Video)

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