Year-round utilisation of fragmented palm swamp forest by red-bellied macaws (Ara manilata) and orange-winged parrots (Amazona amazonica) in the Nariva Swamp (Trinidad).
The red-bellied macaw (Ara manilata) and the orange-winged parrot (Amazona amazonica) on Trinidad have been reported to utilize palms for food (fruits) and for roosting and nesting sites (in dead palm stems) in palm swamp forest. However, there were few data describing the breadth of the bird diets or roosting and nesting tree characteristics. Population estimates for the parrot and macaw in the Nariva Swamp (a site of international importance) were 136 and 224 respectively. Their diets included 7 plant species with 94% of feeding on Mauritia setigera and Roystonea oleracea palm fruits. This level of feeding was correlated with palm fruit availability since only in the late dry season, when palm fruit availability was low, was feeding on non-palm fruit significant. The phenologies and habitat distributions of the palms appear to determine the direction of seasonal foraging movement of the psittacids. Roosting sites were concentrated in Roystonea and Mauritia palm stands. Nest sites were found in Mauritia palms. Despite its fragmented nature, palm swamp forest in the Nariva Swamp is an important resource for resident psittacines. It is recommended that efforts should be directed towards conserving this forest type in order to sustain psittacine populations.