Today is the First Day of Christmas. As an amateur history scholar, I am frustrated when the general public talks about the Twelve Days of Christmas without knowing anything about it. You see, once upon a time, the actual day of December 25 (not getting into changing calendars and other beliefs that were oppressed by the use of their holidays for Christian ones) was observed as a religious day. A day of prayer and midnight Mass. A day of thinking of ways to help those less privileged.
The day of gift giving is January 7th, the day observed as the arrival of the Magi in the humble stable in Bethlehem. But some eager swain apparently gave his true love a gift or more on each day between Christmas and Twelfth Night.
And for some reason, this guy liked to give birds as presents. Well, that’s not the best of ideas in most cases. But you can give to parrot conservation efforts in the name of the person you love. Here are my 12 picks for your donations.
1. Top of the list is World Parrot Trust. https://www.parrots.org/ They are pushing for laws to move African Grey Parrots (Both Congo and Timneh) to the CITES Appendix 1, making the trade in these magnificent animals illegal. Yes, the horror of those photos of fifty or more greys stuffed in a crate is not of smugglers, but legal pet traders. On top of this goal, another part of their mission is to improve companion bird care.
2. The Ara Project, dedicated to saving Costa Rica’s two native macaws. I’ve seen wonderful videos of the staff releasing macaws into the wild. http://thearaproject.org/ Tourists can book tours and watch the release in person. Scarlet macaw populations number only 4,000 and Great Green macaws only 1,000.
3. Kakapo Recovery New Zealand. http://kakaporecovery.org.nz/ One of many cases where a bird had adapted perfectly to its environment, then people showed up with predators that decimated the population. Add to that the ruin of habitat and you have a grim outlook. There are fewer than 160 Kakapo on our planet.
4. World Wildlife Fund. http://www.worldwildlife.org/ This group looks at the big picture: Climate change, habitat, and animals that work with each other. Clean water and finding ways to help people survive that also helps the wildlife around them. Without their work, humans may need to look for a new place to live.
5. Conservation International is highly rated on Charity Navigator for having a CEO who doesn’t take more than living expenses for a salary. http://www.conservation.org/where/pages/amazonia.aspx This is another big picture group and the focus on the Amazon is going to help parrots and birds of many sorts.
6. Seacology. http://www.seacology.org/ Islands are home to numerous birds and parrots, as well as creatures and plants found nowhere else in the world, yet can have fragile ecosystems. In the past 400 years, of all the birds that have gone extinct, 88% have been from islands.
7. The La Cruz Habitat Protection Project. https://www.facebook.com/ForestsForMonarchs/ No, I didn’t put the wrong link there. La Cruz works to plant Forests for Monarchs but lost funding from the Mexican government. Donations are needed to keep the overwintering grounds for the butterflies growing and clear of pesticides. This video shows the work they do. And while there isn’t mention of parrots in the information, you know the birds are benefiting from the work to establish these forests. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sw6Ug6RUPTQ
8. EchoBonaire. http://www.echobonaire.org/ I live with an Amazon parrot, so this cousin of my double yellow is dear to my heart. The Yellow-shouldered Amazon parrot is down to about 900 in numbers. Imagine the sky before the Europeans arrived, before habitat destruction, before poaching of chicks from the nests, when millions of these beauties would flock together at feeding and watering sites. There is something you can do if you don’t have funds to either go on a parrot tour or to donate. Be sure that the pet companion bird you buy is not wild caught. Ask to see the parents.
9. American Bird Conservancy. https://abcbirds.org/ A wide-reaching plan to protect all bird species across many countries, ABC helps Thick-billed parrots, Yellow-eared parrots, Great Green Macaws, and a number of parakeets. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTvamnQ67z4
10. Island Conservation. https://www.islandconservation.org/green-parrot-saved-from-extinction-again/ Yes, islands are important and worth saving. But for a parrot to be saved once from extinction then ignored until it nearly disappeared again? Come on, humans! We can do better than that. Found only on Australia’s Norfolk Island, this beauty needs constant attention. We have drastically changed their world, now we need to safeguard the remaining population and increase the numbers.
11. Rainforest Alliance. http://www.rainforest-alliance.org/ Along with many other forest inhabitants, African Grey parrots are under the watchful eyes of this organization. Right now, donations will be doubled in their Holiday Match program. Forests are a lot like islands and every bit as important to the life of this planet.
12. Finally, I want to appreciate the local volunteers near me who work hard to save habitat and animals. No parrots, except the feral ones now and then, but worth donating to. The Del Dios Habitat Protection League http://www.ddhpl.org/ is working to restore natural riparian habitat around Lake Hodges, very close to where I live. They make sure people know that importing firewood can also import dangerous insects that will kill off the trees. They look for invasive plants to eradicate and have removed all the imported eucalyptus trees around the lake. They get some funds from selling firewood, but now that the eucalyptus is gone, that’s slowing down. They certainly could use a few donations right now.
Happy Holidays to you and yours! Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on New Year’s Day.