I bet a “mallorca con azúcar” from La Bombonera, that if you ask anyone the name of an endemic animal from Puerto Rico, many would name the Puerto Rican parrot (Amazona vittata). One of the first scientists responsible for people knowing about this bird and recognizing its endangered situation, was my grandfather, Don José A. Rodríguez Vidal (Don Tony; 1925-2009).
He was born on January 9, 1925, in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, and completed his higher education in agronomy at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez campus. Don Tony started his professional life as a vocational agriculture teacher at Barrio Garrochales in Arecibo. In 1949, he moved to Barrio Bayaney in Hatillo to teach agriculture to sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students. He taught the same subject in Barrio Bajadero in Arecibo.
As a college student, he completed most of the biology courses, which allowed him to teach this subject as well. He taught biology night classes for World War II veterans.
In 1953, Don Tony started working as a biologist for the Division of Forests, Fish and Wildlife. It has in this role that he spent 3 months studying and researching the doves (tórtolas) that inhabited the Guánica Dry Forest. His work resulted in one of the most important studies related to this bird. In 1956, Don Tony was assigned to study Iguacas (Puerto Rican parrots) in El Yunque National Forest. Completing this comprehensive study was one of the most important scientific endeavors Don Tony got involved in. Although it took almost 3 years, his findings challenged well-established paradigms about parrot population, and alerted our nation about the endangered status of this native bird.