Laney Slator Rickman (April 15, 1952 - August 26, 2017)
How does one ever put into words what an incredible person Laney Rickman was, loved so dearly by her family and cherished by throngs of friends around the globe? She left a permanent mark on this planet… and lives on in our hearts forever.
Laney was an avid aviculturist and Founder/Executive Director at Bird Endowment. Laney was an internationally recognized speaker-writer known for many accomplishments in the in-situ/ex-situ conservation of the Blue-throated Macaw. For more than 25 years, she dedicated her efforts toward encouraging parent-rearing of the BTM in captivity as well as supporting a nesting program for the wild BTM population, endemic to the Beni savanna, El Beni, Bolivia.
While working as a volunteer keeper in the Bird Department at Houston Zoo from 1991 through 1993, she became enamored with and aware of the threat of extinction to the critically endangered Blue-throated Macaw (BTM). In 1998, she and husband Jack founded Bird Endowment Inc. to advance their dedication to saving the Blue-throated Macaw from extinction. She published numerous articles and spoke at countless conferences and bird club meetings about her successful captive breeding program and work with Saving the Blues™ in the wild. In 2013, she was recognized by the American Federation of Aviculture with their prestigious Silver AVY Award.
Blues Conservatory™ Captive Breeding Program
Laney was the primary aviculturist at Bird Endowment’s Blues Conservatory™. Her first Blue-throated Macaws were acquired in 1992 as a wild-caught, bonded pair. The pair had been together for 10 years, but never attempted to nest at their previous locations in Florida and Texas. Laney experimented with new habitat techniques and her efforts paid off. In 1993, the pair successfully hatched and raised two offspring.
In 1994, recognizing the need for more space than their Houston neighborhood backyard, she and husband Jack moved their Blue-throated Macaw project to a 20-acre farm overlooking the beautiful Guadalupe River Valley of South Texas where the Blues Conservatory™ became Bird Endowment’s domestic breeding facility. The flock was comprised of founder BTMs F1, F2 and third generation parent-reared offspring.
Although the Blues Conservatory™ captive breeding program closed at the time of her death in 2017, the Saving the Blues™ program continues with its focus on raising public and avicultural awareness of the Blue-throated Macaw’s plight in the wild.
Nido Adoptivo™ - Saving the Blues™ in the Wild in Bolivia
In 2006, Laney and Bird Endowment originated and developed the Nido Adoptivo™ artificial "nest adoption” project, an annual funding project in cooperation with the Armonía/ Loro Parque Fundación Blue-throated Macaw (BTM) conservation program in Bolivia. The primary objective of this in situ program is to increase the Blue-throated Macaw wild population by installing supplemental artificial nest boxes. The successes of the Nido Adoptivo™ project are demonstrated by the 81 BTM hatchlings that have fledged from the nest boxes since the project began, including in 2017 the first chick to be raised by parents who both had fledged from these nest boxes.
Laney Rickman Blue-throated Macaw Fund
In honor of Laney's life's work and undying passion for environmental conservation and protection of the Blue-throated Macaws, Bird Endowment, Laney's family, Asociación Armonía (Bolivia), and American Bird Conservancy partnered to establish the Laney Rickman Blue-throated Macaw Fund to continue long-term support for the Nido Adoptivo™ nest box program and to support BTM habitat restoration and conservation in Bolivia. As of August 2019, $240,000 USD has been raised.
Laney Rickman Reserve, Bolivia
In August 2018, the nesting area for the largest known group of breeding BTM became protected and was renamed the Laney Rickman Blue-throated Macaw Reserve, thanks to a land purchase made by Asociación Armonía in a joint effort with American Bird Conservancy (ABC), the International Conservation Fund of Canada, IUCN Netherlands, and the World Land Trust.
The purchase of this reserve was deemed “one of the 10 greatest conservation wins for birds” in 2018 by ABC President Michael Parr.
The reserve spans 1680 acres of savanna and tropical forest and protects the southern sub-population of BTM. Of the 76 BTM chicks that fledged from the nest boxes prior to the dedication of the Laney Rickman Reserve, 55 fledged on this reserve property, formerly Esperancita cattle ranch, including all 5 chicks from the 2017 – 2018 breeding season.
The reserve is also home to and protects diverse wildlife, including Giant Anteaters, Crab-eating Foxes, and other birds such as the White Monjita and Red-bilked Scythebill.
“We are very pleased … Esperancita ranch is bought … and will be called the ‘Laney Rickman Blue-throated Macaw Reserve,’ named after our dearest friend and conservationist Laney Rickman. The most important breeding site for the southern subpopulation is now protected forever, and we can freely continue the nest box work that was started with the amazing help from Laney.” -- Asociación Armonía
For a select list of Laney’s Publications, click here.
To read Laney Rickman’s obituary, click here.
To find out more about Nido Adoptivo™, click here.
To Sponsor a Nest Box or to find out more about the Laney Rickmand Blue-throated Macaw Fund, click here.