BirdLife: The Magazine Jan-Mar 2018 - Page 54

Nature’s heroes Argentina’s Colony Guardians In Argentina, there are only 600 Saffron-cowled Blackbirds left, and nest predation is sabotaging their chances of population recovery. But this looks set to change thanks to Colony Guardians – volunteers who camp out at the nesting sites to watch over the eggs and chicks Inés Pereda & Francisco González Táboas Aves Argentinas I n Argentina, the loss of Pampas grass habitat is a huge threat to biodiversity. Agrochemicals, cattle trampling and the intentional burning of vegetation all spell disaster for national treasures like the Strange- tailed Tyrant Alectrurus risora and the Pampas Meadowlark Leistes defilippii. But the impact is even worse on species who are struggling to rear enough young to bounce back. This is the case for the Saffron-cowled Blackbird Xanthopsar flavus. Classed as Vulnerable worldwide, the situation is even worse in Argentina, where the species is listed as Critically Endangered due to extremely rapid population declines. And the success of the few reproductive colonies left is being severely sabotaged by predation from foxes, reptiles and raptors. Not to mention the cuckoo- like brood parasitism of the Shiny Cowbird Molothrus bonariensis. That’s why, after a highly successful campaign in 2015, Aves Argentinas (BirdLife Partner) joined forces with charities and government bodies alike to create the Saffron- cowled Blackbird Conservation Project. every season project workers cover 15,000 km in their search for nests along the provinces’ roads 1 Project members scan the landscape to locate nesting ]\˂[\۞[^0X\•Z\Z[H\[\N]\H[^H]BH\X]HۚY\[\]\Y\[Hݚ[\و[H[[ܜY[\ˈ^H[\[۞HX\X[]ݙ\[K\[[Y\][ۈوBX\]Y\\Y܈HYܙXHڙX[H]YۚX[]X]\˂]]8&\X\KXXYY[X\ۈ\]ܙX][\Z[H\\HHXؚ\\B[]HZ\\ˈ[X\[]\B[[ܘ\[\HYX[\[Bܛ[[\\[HYX\HYX\]\BX\ۈڙXܚ\ݙ\ݙ\ MK H[Z\]Y\[ۙHݚ[\&HYˈ]\Y\ۙ\و][\]\[H[[^[]H]ܚوۛXY[ܛX[^B[[H]HHۚY\[Z\\ X[\[\\Hܚ[\HYX[ KZ\Y\\]]\YH\HYX]Y[][]Hو[ۙ\\Hܚ\\][Xݚ[X[\[\˜[Y[X\وܘ\[[X[H [X[B[\^[ K\H[\Y܈H\قY[[X[XYKۘHHۚY\\H[ HڙX[[]\X[Y\۞HX\X[]ݙ\H\[Y[[]HY]ܜ˜[\\]\]^K^H\XXX[^\[ۂ]X\H^HوۘZ\\ܜ[X[[X[[H[[HYۋXYXؚ\YHX\ˈZ\\[H[]\œ[X[[Y[\X\[YX\˂[[HX[H\^H[YBHXH[\X]H[Hو\™\[][[ؘ[HX][YXY\˂^H[ۚ]܈H][Y[وHY[X]^[YH\H\[[Y\H\M\YH8([SX\ N