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CZS vet team observing bird ecosystem at Punta San Juan
Update: Dr. Jen Langan has returned to Punta San Juan to continue her work assessing the health of the Humboldt penguin population there. This time, she's joined by CZS keeper Gail Brandt. Get details on their work and see their photos at the Humboldt Penguin Conservation blog!


Greetings from Peru

We successfully completed our six days of field work in February 2008 as part of a health assessment of the avifauna (bird life of a given region) at Punta San Juan on the southern coast of Peru. This work was initiated as part of a larger study to evaluate the health and ecosystem of the Humboldt penguin at this location. This project was supported with grants and funding from both the Chicago Zoological Society and St. Louis Zoo.

Dr. Jen LanganPunta San Juan is a reserve run by the Probonos Corporation that has been managed for the harvest of guano for the last 99 years. This location is home to the largest breeding colony of Humboldt penguins in Peru, and many other species of guano producing birds such as the Guanay cormorant, Peruvian pelican, Inca terns, boobies, and several gull species. We sampled 155 birds (35 pelicans, 20 chicks, 100 cormorants) in just under one week.

The penguins nest in burrows dug into several feet of guano. Because of the close contact between the penguins and the guano producing birds, we chose to sample the most numerous guano producing species, including the cormorants and pelicans. We sampled them at this time of year since they are nesting and more easily captured.

The project was a success due to the help of a terrific group of biologists, students and volunteers assisting us with different aspects of the study. We even conducted a short course on avian necropsy, clinical skills, and anatomy as well as training on bird capture, restraint and veni-puncture.

Note: Dr. Langan and her group overlapped with an ongoing Humboldt penguin census in Peru. She will be returning this year to continue the health assessment and sample collection of the Humboldt penguins at Punta San Juan.