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Nest cavity characteristics, reproductive output and population trend of naturalised Amazon parrots in Germany

Abstract

Although many parrot species are decreasing in their native range, introduced parrot populations can be found in urban areas around the globe. We thus need to understand how they adapt to this novel environment and to assess the possibility of a range expansion that might threaten native species. We studied population growth, nest site requirements, as well as limiting factors like reproductive output and mortality of the only European population of Yellow-headed Parrots (Amazona oratrix) in the city of Stuttgart, southwest Germany, to assess the risk of a possible range expansion. Although offspring could be seen on a regular basis, parrot numbers hardly increased during the last 5 years (51 individuals in spring 2015, including 12 breeding pairs). Ten accessible nest cavities were studied in detail: they were located exclusively in large, old London Plane (Platanus × acerifolia) trees in an area of less than 1 km2 in the city’s public parks and were at least 65 cm deep. Average reproductive output was 1.3 fledglings/pair, which is high in comparison to data from birds in their native range. Mortality, especially of young parrots, appears to be high due to risks in urban areas such as collisions with vehicles and windows and could partly explain slow population growth. This slow population growth in combination with the need for sufficiently large nest cavities may hinder a range expansion of this species in future years.

Zusammenfassung

Nisthöhlenmerkmale, Bruterfolg und Populations-entwicklung von eingebürgerten Gelbkopfamazonen in Deutschland Während viele Papageienarten in ihren heimischen Lebensräumen bedroht sind, werden sie weltweit in städtischen Lebensräumen häufiger, oft fernab von ihren ursprünglichen Vorkommen. Städte scheinen für das Überleben Vorteile zu bieten, zeigen jedoch auch die Anpassungsfähigkeit vieler Papageienarten an einen völlig neuen Lebensraum. Innerhalb Europas kommen Gelbkopfamazonen (Amazona oratrix) nur in Stuttgart vor. Um eine mögliche Ausbreitungstendenz bewerten zu können, untersuchten wir das Populationswachstum, Anforderungen an die Nisthöhlen, sowie den Reproduktionserfolg und die Mortalitätsraten dieser Art. Obwohl es an Nachwuchs nicht mangelte, nahm die Population in den letzten fünf Jahren kaum zu. Im Frühjahr 2015 wurden 51 Individuen gezählt, darunter 12 Brutpaare. Zehn Nester waren mit einem Hubsteiger erreichbar und wurden genau untersucht. Nisthöhlen waren ausschließlich in sehr alten, großen Platanen (Platanus × acerifolia) lokalisiert und konzentrierten sich auf einer Fläche von weniger als einem Quadratkilometer in den Parkanlagen der Stadt. Die Höhlen waren mindestens 65 cm tief. Der mittlere Reproduktionserfolg lag mit 1,3 Flügglingen pro Paar deutlich über dem aus dem Ursprungsland Mexiko bekannten Durchschnitt. Die Sterblichkeit vor allem junger Papageien war jedoch relativ hoch und könnte durch eine erhöhte Unfallgefahr in der Stadt erklärbar sein. Vor allem junge Amazonen kollidierten oft mit Autos oder prallten gegen Fensterscheiben. Dies scheint den derzeit geringen Populationsanstieg und die fehlende Ausbreitungstendenz zum Teil zu erklären. Zudem könnte der Mangel an ausreichend großen Nisthöhlen die Ausbreitung über die Stadtgrenzen hinweg erschweren.

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Fig. 1

Martens et al. (2013), modified

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Acknowledgements

We are very grateful to Günther Schleussner, Micha Sonnenfroh and Clemens Hartmann from Wilhelma Zoo for cooperating with us. We thank Tomoko Arai and Dieter Hoppe for their help in observing the fledging process, during counts and for providing a lot of helpful information. We also thank Igor Berkunsky, Sophie Laidler, Klaus Martens, Raoul Ribot and anonymous reviewers for proofreading and editing the manuscript. All necessary permits were provided by the local authorities and the research complied with current German law.

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Correspondence to Friederike Woog.

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Communicated by O. Krüger.

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Martens, J.M., Woog, F. Nest cavity characteristics, reproductive output and population trend of naturalised Amazon parrots in Germany. J Ornithol 158, 823–832 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10336-017-1436-9

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Keywords

  • Amazona oratrix
  • Breeding
  • Reproduction
  • Mortality
  • Introduced species
  • Psittacidae