LUMA and the Department of Natural & Environmental Resources Team Up to Protect the Yellow-Shouldered Blackbird, an Endangered Species 

Collaborative efforts at Aguirre Substation aim to protect and restore yellow-shouldered blackbirds and other species.  

(Salinas, Puerto Rico – April 22, 2024) LUMA, in close collaboration with the Department of Natural & Environmental Resources, conducted a bird census on Janurary 12 at the LUMA Aguirre Substation in Salinas. The purpose of the census was to have an estimate of the population of the yellow-shouldered blackbird, one of the 19 endangered species of endemic birds on our island. 

LUMA has granted the Department of Natural & Environmental Resources access to the substation switchyards to collect data on this species, which uses these areas to live and nest.  

Before Hurricane Maria, there were about 80 to 100 yellow-shouldered blackbirds. After the hurricane, however, the number of birds was reduced to less than 60. By the summer of 2019, the number had been reduced to 18. In May 2021, the number increased to 32, and in the summer of 2023, 55 birds were recorded. A total of 115 yellow-shouldered blackbirds were counted in the January 2024 census, showing progress in the conservation of this species. 

The yellow-shouldered blackbird faces serious threats, such as pollution and the presence of the shiny cowbird, an invasive bird that parasitizes their nests and threatens their reproduction. According to Jean González, a research associate in the Department of Natural & Environmental Resources, an important habitat for this species has been identified at the Aguirre Substation in Salinas, where there are about 100 yellow-shouldered blackbirds. The implementation of monitoring with transmitters and protection measures in the area is essential to promote the proliferation of yellow-shouldered blackbirds and mitigate threats the shiny cowbirds pose to them. 

“The collaboration between LUMA and the Department of Natural & Environmental Resources is crucial to ensure the conservation of the yellow-shouldered blackbird and other endemic species in Puerto Rico. The findings represent a significant step forward in our joint efforts to protect biodiversity.” Luisette X. Ríos Castañer, LUMA Environmental Department Director of LUMA.

“LUMA’s commitment to sustainable practices is not limited to our day-to-day operations but reaches into meaningful initiatives to our communities such as yellow-shouldered blackbirds’ conservation. Our Environmental Department is committed to informing and training our employees and bringing awareness about the importance of having the environmental requirements in all aspects of our job,” said Juan Saca, CEO of LUMA.  

LUMA will continue to collaborate with Natural Resources and other stakeholders not only to preserve the yellow-shouldered blackbird but also promote the preservation of biodiversity and the environment in Puerto Rico. 

About LUMA  LUMA is a Puerto Rican company that, since June 1, 2021, operates and manages the electric power transmission and distribution system in Puerto Rico. LUMA is a company driven by a mission to transform the electrical transmission and distribution system to provide all Puerto Ricans with the reliable, resilient, clean, and affordable electrical service they deserve. As a customer-centric company, LUMA’s entire workforce of more than 4,500 employees is focused on safely delivering an exceptional customer service experience to its 1.5 million customers.