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 Blue-throated Macaw in captivity as well as supporting a nesting program for the wild Blue-throated Macaw 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. 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 Rickman and Bird Endowment developed the Nido Adoptivo™ artificial "nest adoption” program, an annual funding campaign in partnership with Asociación Armonía, after hearing Bennett Hennessey of Armonía speak at the International Parrot Convention at Loro Parque in Tenerife, Spain. He reported about the initial success of a pilot study done in Bolivia in cooperation with Loro Parque Fundación with artificial nest boxes to see if availability of nesting habitat was a limiting factor to survival and growth of the wild Blue-throated Macaw population. He shared that not only was there interest from the Blue-throated Macaws, but also an attempt to breed. In addition, multiple other species attempted to use the nest boxes clearly demonstrating that the availability of suitable nest sites (i.e. cavities in old growth motacu palm trees) was a limiting factor in the habitat. After listening to Bennett’s presentation, Laney Rickman approached him about how the Bird Endowment could help support the continuation of the nest box project.
The primary objective of the Nido Adoptivo™ 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 93 Blue-throated Macaw hatchlings that have fledged as of July 2020 from the nest boxes since the project began, including in 2017 the first chick to be raised by parents that had fledged from these nest boxes. To read the annual reports of the Nido Adoptivo™ program, click here.
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.
This Fund is managed by American Bird Conservancy, a 501(c)(3) organization with all disbursements sent directly to Asociación Armonía in Bolivia. As of August 2020, $245,000 USD has been raised. Donations are welcome and provide vital support for the Nido Adoptivo™ nest box program to help save the Blue-throated Macaw and the vital ecosystem in which it lives.
Laney Rickman Blue-throated Macaw Reserve, Bolivia
In August 2018, the nesting area for the largest known group of breeding Blue-throated Macaws 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 reserve spans 1680 acres of savanna and tropical forest and protects the southern sub-population of Blue-throated Macaw. Of the 76 Blue-throated Macaw chicks that had fledged from the nest boxes PRIOR to the dedication of the Laney Rickman Reserve, 55 fledged from nest boxes on this reserve property, formerly the Esperancita cattle ranch.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.
In his summary of successful conservation efforts for the year 2018, ABC President Michael Parr deemed the purchase of this reserve as “one of the 10 greatest conservation wins for birds." For more information about the Laney Rickman Reserve, click here.
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 Rickman Blue-throated Macaw Fund, click here.