BirdLife: The Magazine Jan-Mar 2018 - Page 55

and video recording devices. These cameras also help them to understand how the parents are adapting to human presence, how they care for their chicks, and which predators are the worst offenders. Throughout the 2015 and 2016 breeding seasons, they located and monitored the success of 15 Saffron-cowled Blackbird reproductive colonies. They found that in protected nests, 69% of the offspring fledged successfully, whereas in unprotected nests the survival rate was only 36%. From this it is clear that the presence of Colony Guardians really does significantly improve the breeding success of the Saffron-cowled Blackbird. The project is still in its early stages, so it is important to evaluate each step carefully. However, the initial results are looking very promising indeed. They suggest that the extra chicks the project helps to fledge will be enough to generate urgently needed population growth when they reproduce the following season. Year by year, the project is gathering strength thanks to the provincial governments, volunteers, Jan-Mar 2018 • birdlife in protected nests, 69% of offspring fledged successfully, whereas unprotected nests saw a survival rate of just 36% 1 Saffron-cowled Blackbird Xanthopsar flavus Photo Inés Pereda researchers and members dedicated to the conservation of this beautiful bird. In fact, this year the project’s volunteers and local birdwatchers were presented with a Nature’s Heroes Award by BirdLife International in recognition of their hard work protecting this species. Next spring, they hope to locate even more new colonies, as well as recovering individuals they tagged last year. They also hope to expand their network further and hone their research and communication techniques. To continue their work and increase their capacity, they need all the help they can get – but if the devotion and enthusiasm of their existing supporters is anything to go by, this achievement looks well within reach. The project is made possible by the col- laboration of the National Research Sta- tion and the Centre of Applied Ecology (CONICET) and Ecoparque Interactivo de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires, together with local NGOs Aves Gualeguaychú, Reserva El Potrero and Tingazú Birding Club (COA), Fundación Azara and the support and resources of the provincial governments of Entre Rios (Dirección de Recursos Naturales) and Corrientes (Direccion de Recursos Nat- urales – Parques y Reservas), Entidad Bina- cional Yacyretá, The Rufford Foundation and Neotropical Grasslands Conservancy. 55