The PPRF has as its mission to conduct joint amatuer/professional studies of Pionus parrots. Each trip that we take and all research we conduct is done by teams of scientists, and aviculturists. For our first formal study, it's important that the study be deigned properly so that the data we collect will serve to enrich BOTH the science and aviculture community.
Study Director Joseph Engler is a wildlife biologist with the U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service at the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge where he is responsible for the development, coordination, and implementation of field programs on 5 wildlife refuges in the American West. He previously worked at two other wildlife refuges in California and Utah where he conducted population surveys, habitat surveys, endangered species surveys and raptor surveys. He also trains and supervises other biologists and volunteers who participate in these projects. HE writes funding proposals and implements research projects using agency, interagency, and private consultants and leads field trips and banding demonstrations for college students, teachers, and other interested groups.
Joe also has a background in GPS (including software), radio telemetry, Passive Integrated Transponder systems, and has received the National Audobon Society's William Dutcher award in 1994 as well as USFWS Superior Performance and Achievement Awards at least five times during the past decade. He's led birding tours in Mexico, Guatemala, and Costa Rica. In 2003 he traveled to Mindo to work with the PPRF. Joe has a B. S. in Horticulture from the University of Maryland and a B. S. in Wildlife Science from Pennsylvania State University.
Joe has a unique perspective because he keeps Pionus parrots in his home as well, so he has both a personal and professional interest in the work of the PPRF. Joe is skilled in digital camera usage as it pertains to wildlife. His other interests include dragonflies and similar insects so during his trip to Mindo he kept busy during off hours investigating the many unusual insects found there. We are quite fortunate to have a scientist with Joe's background and interests working with us.
Field biologist David Wilson is a Ph. D candidate at Australian National University. He earned his Bachelor of Environmental Science from Adelaide State University. David has experience conducting bird surveys, radio tracking, GPS/GIS systems, and bird handling. For the past two years he has been involved in a monitoring project involving Eclectus parrots. In addition he has worked on a variety of research projects including the Pink-lipped Spider orchid, the effects of kangaroo harvesting on ecosystem dynamics, and habitat use and re-introduction potential of the Southern emu-wren.
David has been the recipient of the Australian National University's postgraduate award scholarship, the Vacation Scholarship provided by the Western Mining Corporation, the A. R. Riddle Scholarship for excellence in Environmental Biology, and the Ena Orrock Lewcock award for excellence in biology. HE has published his work in a variety of scientific journals.
Like Mark Ziembicki, Ph. D, who assisted us on our first trip in 1999, David is spending a year doing volunteer work with neotropical bird research in South America. He is presently working in Venezuela and will join the team in Ecuador in mid-July.
Another goal of the PPRF is to involve promising researchers with our work on Pionus parrots in the hope of inspiring future generations to continue with the research. To that end, David is our first "success story" since it was Mark who suggested to David that he become involved with our work.
Field biologist Janine Spencer has been a PPRF member for five years and has accepted the responsibility of writing the formal study for this project. In addition, she will be taking time off from her fulltime job to join us in Mindo.
Janine has been a wildlife biologist for 15 years. She has a B.S. degree from Oregon State University and an M.A. degree from Prescott College. She has worked as a bird biologist since 1992 in the southwestern U.S. She has monitored, surveyed, and/or designed habitat protected areas for several threatened, endangered, or sensitive species which include peregrine falcons, bald eagles, southwestern willow flycatchers, Yuma clapper rails, northern goshawks, burrowing owls, Mexican spotted owls, yellow-billed cuckoos, cactus ferruginous pygmy owls; as well as other species such as Sonoran desert tortoise, black-footed ferrets, and protected plant species. She has experience identifying birds of the southwest by sight and sound, in both desert and high elevation forest communities. She writes Biological Evaluations and works under the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) to evaluate project impacts to protected flora and fauna using Environmental Assessments. She has worked with federal and state government agencies, National Guard properties, municipalities, power companies, and private enterprise to make sure they are in compliance with the laws that protect our natural resources. Janine took Spanish Immersion classes in the cloud forest of Monteverde, Costa Rica and she is a companion to several parrots in her home in Tucson. She is an experienced outdoors person who is used to working in high temperatures, high humidity, swamps, and deserts, and she has an avid interest in parrots both as an ornithologist and as a companion parrot person. She has been a member of Pionus Parrot Research Foundation for several years.