The early months of 2015 have been very busy for the Red Siskin Recovery Project. The field crew in Venezuela has embarked on a year-long effort to survey areas across the species’ range to estimate current population size and distribution. Perform behavioral observations and document important habitat variables that will inform future reintroduction strategies. We are using historical records and GIS to create a habitat model that will help predict areas of remaining suitable habitat that may harbor unknown colonies of Red Siskins and to identify potential reintroduction sites.
At the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, facilities are being prepared to start a breeding colony that will be used for research of management, breeding, care and release techniques. NFSS is helping to source birds from private breeders and providing expertise in breeding and husbandry.
In Venezuela, Barrida and El Pinar zoos are making steady progress towards design and construction of breeding facilities including a February visit by project partner Will Ruhl of Ruhl Walker Architects to work on architectural planning. Will has worked previously with the interior design at the Hawaii Wildlife Center.
Lab work is advancing at National Museum of Natural History where researchers will soon have whole genome sequence for Red Siskin and Canary. These genomes will be used to study genetic health and structure of wild populations, estimate relatedness of captive birds to limit inbreeding, and to detect ancestral hybridization, (e.g.’, with canaries, which would disqualify any bird from inclusion in the captive breeding program).
Your generous donations help to make this important work possible. Thank you! A main project website is now under construction and will be launched very soon. Stay tuned!
Group Photo credits:
Mauro Valor – Head of Education Dept. at Zoo.
Will Ruhl – Ruhl-Walker Architects – Designing Red siskin conservation Center
Bibiana Sucre – Executive Director Provita
Imaru Lameda – Conservation and Investigation Adviser at Zoo
Carlos Silva – Head Veterinary of the Preventive Medicine and Nutrition Dpt. at Zoo
Emilio Pérez – Driver at Zoo, excellent city guide and assistant too!