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Nesting in Winter

Red-lored female on nest in Ahuavispan, Honduras

I am headed back to New York after two weeks in La Moskitia, Honduras where we now work with four indigenous villages who seek to protect their scarlet macaw. Much more than the scarlet macaw is at risk, but by protecting this endangered bird we also preserve and protect other wildlife, people, and habitats.

Our plan on this trip was to coordinate with the communities to locate, monitor, and protect nests, as well as survey what nests we could. We couldn’t document many nest contents by climbing nest trees, because it is early in the nesting season yet and we didn’t want to disturb the birds while they are incubating eggs. Females are very reluctant to leave their nests and we leave them in peace when we can.

Double rainbow after storm in Tablitas, Honduras

We also didn’t engage in as much biologic monitoring as we’d hoped, because we were met with much rain, wind, and mud along the way. I’ve been coming to this area for almost 7 years, and I’ve never seen it this cool or rainy, unseasonably so. The local people said it’s like summer was here, but it slipped back into winter.

Now checking the weather forecasts, which predict heavy snow in my home area, I wonder if I will make it home without any delays. Spring is refusing to come, though the trees and nesting birds in the USA know that now is the time to get to work and produce more life to come.

We know it too, that now is the time, before more life slips away. The nesting season is a time of work – for the birds, and for us. Though our efforts concentrate on the scarlet macaw, it is a rainbow under which all other species and people may prosper. As indigenous leader Tomas Manzanares once told me, “If the scarlet macaw doesn’t make it, neither do my people.”

Rainbow over yellow-naped amazon roost site in Ahuavispan

This rainbow adorned parrot, flying over head and nesting (though the weather and tides of time would prevent them from doing so from the pressures of poaching and habitat destruction), seems to hold us and lift us up, trying to soar even though storm clouds are all around. Nearly 15,000 hectares of forest in each area of this region are destroyed and replaced by agriculture and ranching.

Pair of scarlet macaws at nest

I look forward to getting home and nesting with family and friends indoors while a storm rages without, but not for too long. There are chicks to protect and welcome into a flourishing future that belongs to them, and could be all of ours.

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