Tuesday, June 16, 2009


It has been a crazy few days, folks. Began last Thursday when RSCF staff visited a local feral population of green-cheek Amazon parrots. These birds are originally from Mexico, and are now endangered. The wild population in Florida is derived from escaped imports dating back to the 1940s. These birds are now an important group, one of the largest wild populations left. We (RSCF) have been studying this group for years, filming within nest cavities using a telescoping camera probe, banding babies, etc. We estimate up to 200 birds may be in this group. Every year we monitor nest cavities, which are in Australian pine trees. Last Thursday we discovered one of the active nests (had two babies in it) was empty...with a wire trap in the tree. The babies had been poached (stolen from the nest). WHAT A MESS! The trap was well-made, the thief obviously has done this before. Devestating loss to the flock and the police were called, reports made, and eventually the story hit the local press. We've been on the phone ever since.

Monday we got a call from a local pet shop--they had the babies. Someone tried to sell them to the shop, but the owners knew better and refused to buy them. Faced with the prospect of having to care for wild, baby parrots no one would buy, the thief simply left them at the pet shop, and then the owners contacted us. So, the happy ending is that we have the babies--tired, skinny and hungry. They are not fully flighted and cannot eat seed yet. We are hand-feeding them three times a day. We hope to rehabilitate them quickly (within a month or so) so we can return them to the flock before they leave the area (usually around the end of July). If we miss that window they will have to remain in captivity until the flock returns next year to breed (usually around April).

It breaks my heart to see these birds in a cage, and I am so disgusted by the entire event. Why must we constantly try to put a dollar value on wildlife? If the pet shop owners hadn't been decent, understanding people, these birds would have spent their lives trapped in a cage, miserable. What gives humans the right to take wild animals of any kind and force them into a life imprisoned for our amusement? Why can't we appreciate wildlife as it is naturally? I can tell you from personal experience, nothing compares to seeing a parrot in full flight, in the forest, screaming its lungs out as it flies FREE. I can only hope that humans can learn to appreciate wild animals in wild places, not in cages and pens, not as PERSONAL PROPERTY.

These babies have a chance now, we will do all we can to get them fat, happy and FLYING with the flock as soon as possible. We'll keep you posted...

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