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Tobiana passion- Simultaneous censuses of the Hooded Grebe continue

Asociación Ambiente Sur, whose emblem is the Hooded Grebe (podiceps gallardoi), an endemic bird (exclusive) of the Province of Santa Cruz that is in critical danger of extinction, defined among the objectives of its constitution the struggle for the survival of this species and the growth of knowledge about it.

Conservation, awareness, environmental education, actions in the territory and research are the different facets of the work done by Ambiente Sur for the hooded grebe since its creation in 2007, an event that gave continuity to the work that part of its members already carried out. Subsequently, The hooded grebe Project was implemented in partnership with the Aves Argentinas NGO and with other institutions that collaborate in this mission.

The hooded grebe is a migratory species of small and compact appearance; it looks bright white with the forehead of the same color, surrounded by a black bib that covers the front of the neck and ascends the sides of the face until it is joined to the head forming a cap; It has a reddish-yellow pompadour and red iris; the back is grayish to blackish. Generally it is seen floating, dragged by the current or submerging in search of food. Solitary individuals or groups of 4-5 individuals are observed, never leave the water and rarely fly during the day.

The bird nests in the lagoons of the plateaus of height of the west and center of the Province, building its nests with floating plants (vinagrilla) that extract below the level of the waters and go piling up and interlacing until creating a floating surface able to sustain to eggs and adults. (1)

Because it is a migratory species, to successfully complete its biological cycle it uses different environments depending on the season of the year. During the months of August and September, the hooded grebe begins its migration from the coast to the high plateaus located west of Santa Cruz. As of November, the reproductive period that extends until April begins. The Hooded grebe during this time lives in lakes and lagoons of the Patagonian plateaus that are over 700 meters above sea level.


Pasión Tobiana (Hooded grebe passion)

This bird is subject to great conservation efforts by Ambiente Sur in conjunction with Aves Argentinas, with actions on the ground that include summer and winter censuses and research on the species. Measures are also established in the territory, such as the guardians of colonies, who remain during the nesting stage in the vicinity of the hooded grebe colonies in order to prevent predators (American mink, trout) and other threats such as the cook gull. attack the nests. As a protective measure, our NGO also actively participated to add contributions and wills for the creation of the Patagonia National Park, which protects the nesting and breeding sites of the hooded grebe.

These actions allow sustaining the work for the conservation of the hooded grebe for 9 years and provide data on the population trends of the species, which for this season have yielded positive data. Another of the important conservation tasks carried out for the hooded grebe is the development of simultaneous censuses, which are carried out weekly on the coasts of the estuaries of the Gallegos, Coyle and Chico-Santa Cruz rivers. During the summer season (September-March), these monitoring activities are preventive because the hooded grebe begins to reach these coasts in April. In the 2017-2018 season, the preventive simultaneous censuses, as expected, did not yield any observed individuals.

The hooded grebes are already among us! In these days, beginning the winter stage and the migration of the macáes towards the Atlantic coast, it is already possible to see it in the local estuary of the Gallegos river.

Between the months of April to August, simultaneous censuses continue at the coastal sites where it rests and feeds and individuals have already been identified in the three estuaries.

It is important to remember that, as has happened in other seasons, there have been found in Piedra Buena and Río Gallegos individuals who, disoriented, collide with what they find in their path and fall in urban areas. Why are they disoriented? This is because the birds use the stars to orient themselves and, sometimes, they confuse the lights of the cities with these. At other times it happens that the lights dazzle them and therefore also collide. Despite these unfortunate cases, we want to highlight the recognition of the species by the community, which identified them immediately and went to institutions trained to solve these situations. The latter is the result of a careful and permanent work of sensitization of the community about the species that makes Ambiente Sur.

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