Macaws: Poster Birds for Conservation and Reintroduction

Thanks to shows like Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom and PBS’s Nature, I learned to love and respect wildlife at an early age. I don’t know if that explains the fact that I have tried to have companions from many branches of the tree of life, and have settled on birds as the ones I am most comfortable living with.

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These days, I learn so much about parrots on the brink of extinction and the wonderful work being done to stop that last fatal step. One amazing story is from Nature, a short piece about breeding scarlet macaws safely in captivity but without much human contact, then releasing the offspring into the Guatemalan jungle. It’s a beautiful film, a small part of a full episode.

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The ARA project in Costa Rica uses ecotourism dollars to fund their breeding and release programs for the two native macaws in that country. Wouldn’t you love to book a trip there, maybe while some of these chicks are being reintroduced?

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Would you think a company that supplies pet products would be involved in conservation? Lafeber makes Nutriberries and other excellent parrot food while at the same time funding efforts to sustain macaw populations in the wild. In Honduras, they work with the local people, educating them and finding lodgings for ecotourists which in turn provides income for the villagers.

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Tiskita Jungle Lodge in Costa Rica also relies on ecotourists to fund macaw reintroduction and to protect sea turtle nests. They work with a program called Pack with a Purpose. There are specific items they need to continue their work. They ask you to include a few of these items in your luggage: Batteries of All Sizes, Binoculars, Digital Camera (Small) with Memory Stick, GPS (Handheld), Torches/Flashlights, and sneakers or trainers, new or gently used. I wonder if UPS delivers there?

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I wish I were younger and in good shape so I could go volunteer for one of the programs going on. If you are young and in good shape and have nothing to really keep you here (wherever here is for you) then consider going to work for one of these wonderful projects.

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Of course, parrots with large blue feathers have always been the most endangered. We nearly lost the Spix macaw. Luckily, before the last solitary male disappeared in the wild, a captive breeding program began with 67 individuals in separate locations at various facilities around the world.’s_Macaw_Project.htm The last known nest site is on a farm which has been purchased by the project and will see the release of more and more Spix macaws in the years to come.

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The other blue macaw, the hyacinth, is getting a helping hand from the Hyacinth Macaw Project in Caiman Ecological Reserve in Brazil. The team of volunteers and other interested parties works to protect and create new nesting sites, help injured or sick birds, and by educating the local people and tourists alike who need to buy into the program for it to work.

Now I have some trivia for you. If you have seen the movie Rio, which species of blue parrot is the main character? Read the linked articles to find the answer. Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Thursday.


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