Mike Russello and Im a graduate student. I also work at
the American Museum of Natural History. I study a bird named
the St. Vincent parrot.
It's named the
St. Vincent parrot
because it makes its home on the island of St. Vincent in
the West Indies.
want to keep these rare, colorful birds as pets. One bird
can sell for $10,000! So, sometimes people try to smuggle
them to countries around the world. The forest where they
live is also being destroyed. This illegal trade and habitat
destruction have made the St. Vincent parrot an
Scientists now think that there are only about 500 individuals
on the island.
to conserve this precious animal. To do this, we need to
protect the forest. We also need to help the St. Vincent
parrot population increase. So, we breed them. But its
not that easy. Male and female parrots look exactly the
same. In the past, the most common way scientists discovered
whether a parrot was male or female was through surgery.
But now we can study DNA from a birds feathers to
see whether it is male or female.
DNA analysis can also
tell us which birds are the best matches. We want to breed
the birds so that theres variation in the gene pool.
The greater the genetic differences within a species, the
greater the chances that it will survive - today and in the