Reintroduction of the Scarlet Macaw and Field Research Initiative for Parrot Conservation
In 1999, Amigos de las Aves, a Costa Rican conservation organization, initiated a Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao) restoration program in Curú. 13 Scarlet Macaws were released and they are independently foraging. The survival rate has been over 90% year over year. Active nesting has been documented; in July 2004 two juvenile birds between 4-5 months of age were noted flying with the flock. This is the first successful breeding of reintroduced Scarlet Macaws in Costa Rica.The macaws are seen on a daily basis within the wildlife refuge and are frequently sighted foraging on beach almonds along Curú’s pristine beach and in the more open areas of the wildlife refuge where their favorite food resources are found. Future releases will be conducted in hopes of establishing a viable population in the area. For more information visit Amigos de las Aves on the web at www.hatchedtoflyfree.org and for more regarding research at the site visit www.amigosdelasaves.org

In 2003, a field research initiative was implemented to study the established population of the Scarlet Macaw. Greg Matuzak, a Conservation Biologist, developed and implemented several studies to document the nesting, foraging ecology, food availability, and movement patterns of the macaws established in Curú. In late 2003 and early 2004, Greg developed and implemented additional studies to document the status and ecology of the entire parrot community in Curú. These include roost counts of the threatened Yellow-naped Parrot (Amazona auropalliata) and point counts to document the abundance of each species of parrot on a month over month basis. This research will provide the necessary information to develop a parrot conservation plan for Curú and protect suitable nesting sites.

Artificial and Coral Reef Restoration and Conservation Projects
Over 15 years ago a reef restoration project was initiated in the Bay of Curú using 7,500 old tires. In 2002 and 2003, INRECOSMAR and Raleigh International installed a PVC tube artificial reef in the Bay of Curú. So far, the restoration projects have been successful at increasing fish diversity and abundance and other marine life in the Bay. For more information regarding the artificial reef project, contact marine biologist, Alvaro Segura, at INRECOSMAR (email: seguraa@racsa.co.cr).

In 2002, a new Psammocora stellata coral reef was discovered in the Bay of Curú. This reef is one of only three known Psammocora sp. reefs in all of Costa Rica. Marine biologists from the University of Costa Rica and Universidad Latina are conducting a scientific research project to map and study this unique Psammocora stellata coral reef in the Bay of Curú. The researchers are finding that it is the largest and healthiest of its kind in Costa Rica. For more information regarding the study of the coral reef, contact Bernadette Bezy at b_bezy@hotmail.com or mbezy@biologia.ucr.ac.cr.

The Curú MoSI Program – Migratory Bird Monitoring
The MoSI program (Monitoreo de Sobrevivencia Invernal -- Monitoring Overwintering Survival) www.birdpop.org/MoSI/MoSI.htm is a cooperative effort among agencies, organizations, and individual bird-banders in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean to operate a network of mist-netting stations to monitor habitat-specific over-wintering survival rates for both migratory and resident landbird species coordinated by the Institute for Bird Populations The purpose of this 5-year study is to determine annual and over-wintering survival of both migratory and resident landbirds.

Despite many excellent studies on the ecology of wintering Neotropical migrants, we really understand very little of the complex web of interactions among these species, the resident species, and their environments. Even less is known about the demographics of birds in the Neotropics and about the vital rates (productivity and survival) that drive those demographics. The Institute for Bird Populations is committed to furthering the understanding of how climate, weather, and habitat characteristics, and their interrelationships, influence the ecology and demographics of both migratory and resident Neotropical birds. Our ultimate goal, however, is to utilize this understanding to help formulate management and conservation strategies for reversing the population declines of Neotropical birds.

At Curú Wildlife Refuge and Hacienda, a MoSI station is operated in the mangroves near Sendero Laguna. In its first year of operation (2003/2004) 339 birds were captured, 148 neotropical migrant birds of 22 species were banded, and 102 species of birds were documented using the mangroves. Four more years of monitoring will be conducted at Curú between 2004 and 2008.

Release of Spider Monkeys
The Set Us Free Project includes the reintroduction of the Spider Monkey (Ateles geoffroyi) in a remote area of the wildlife refuge. The Spider Monkey was driven to extinction on the Nicoya Peninsula and this project aims to develop a protocol for implementing successful programs aimed at the reintroduction of Spider Monkeys in the wild. Several Spider Monkeys are foraging independently and several pairs have successfully reproduced in the refuge in past years. Future releases are in the planning stages and a research program is being developed for the Spider Monkeys. A critical element of this project is to acclimatize the monkeys in a pre-release cage away from contact with humans. A supplemental feeding program has been implemented during the first few after the monkeys’ release, until they can forage on their own.

Environmental Education
Environmental education programs related to the Scarlet Macaw, Spider Monkey, and marine conservation projects have been developed and implemented in Curú. For example, several classes of local school children visited Curú in early 2004 and were taken to an area of Curú Bay where an artificial reef and coral reef exist. The school children were taught the importance of protecting their marine environment for their futures and the importance of supporting conservation programs aimed at the environment. In 2003, several large signs were made to explain to school groups and tourists the history and objectives of the conservation programs that exist in Curú. In the future, an expansion of environmental education programs will help integrate Curú’s conservation programs and objectives with local schools and organizations.