A Timb Bomb Slows the Extinction Clock


Hector with Hector, the bird he saved (Time Bomb)

Last week Rev. Meredith Garmon wrote about his experiences on our Nicaragua Parrot Journey which starred the rescued parrot chick Hector. The young boy who rescued him off the street after he had fallen from his nest was also named Hector, and he thought to pass on his name to the bird. After the bird spent nearly a week in our hotel bathroom he picked up another name, Time Bomb.

We tried to make his temporary time in our shower as much like home as possible

He was a bundle of energy, even during his first 5 tenuous days with us. He eyed us carefully and growled whenever he saw us, a defensive behavior because he was so scared and out of his high tree cavity environment. We were far from everything he had known, and he had lost his parents. We did not know how to reunite them safely, so we knew we’d have to parent the parrot until he was able to be released into the safety of the wild flock.

Timb Bomb seemed really curious about Meredith

Time Bomb did not want to be parented, though he was still a baby of only 9 weeks. He refused to eat on his own, and would not accept food I offered to him as might his parents. He lost so much weight that I had to force feed him by inserting a tube in the crop. After two days of doing that I noticed a shift in him (I say him because the locals thought he was male because he was so big, though it’s impossible to know). Time Bomb was now admitting a quieter growl and seemed interested in everything around him. He was flying around the bathroom, basically disrupting everything in sight. First he landed briefly in the toilet when Meredith was using it, and then the next time he flew over Meredith, grazing his head, and then hit the toilet lid, slammed it down, and then sat on the now closed lid staring up at Meredith, who mused that he was finished anyway.

He dominated the bathroom, and anyone who was in it

Soon afterward Time Bomb brought the shower curtain down and the toilet paper roll became a perforated and deformed mass of beak and nail punctures. Every time I was in the bathroom he kept peering out the door and he finally learned to wait in ambush for me on of the floor when I opened the door. I quickly learned to put on shoes when using the bathroom because a frustrated chick has a powerful bite when shooed from the door with one’s foot. On his last night we opened the door to find him hanging from the bathroom mirror and sparring with his reflection. It was as if first his nest cavity could not contain him, and then not the bathroom. I have never known a bird so engaged with his surroundings, and it seemed to me, willing to risk so much to be free. He knows, perhaps as humans are only beginning to learn, that liberation is not something we do for someone else, it is something we empower others to do for themselves.

Hector at Emerson's house - closer to freedom!

By now Time Bomb had learned to eat from a syringe, and I give great thanks to the Hotel Playa Santa Domingo’s kitchen staff for allowing me to use their stove and blender to provide a puree of dry dog food. Because we had to return to the USA, we made arrangements for Time Bomb to live in Emerson’s spare bedroom until a release cage could be built up the slopes of the volcano, Maderas. Emerson is one of the LOCO’s, our conservation team on Ometepe Island in Nicaragua. Apparently Time Bomb continued his antics there, flying around the room, chewing through bags of rice, and once escaping the house.

First they had to tow all the cage materials up the slope of Volcano Maderas,

and then assemble it at Abraham's farm

I am grateful that Emerson and his family took such good care of Time Bomb, while cage wire could be ordered and the cage materials transported up the steep and rocky slope to Abraham's farm on Maderas Volcano. Abraham, as well as Emerson and Norlan, had no experience in parrot rehabilitation and liberation, but they were game to give the bird the best chance to survive. The plans are to teach him to eat, on his own, food naturally found in the surrounding forest and get him in peak physical condition. While this happens the wild flocks that fly over the farm can begin to get to know Time Bomb. This way, when the day arrives when he is let out of the cage, Time Bomb can join one of the flocks and then return when he needs to get food or protection at Abraham’s farm. It is a risky time for him – for predators like nothing more than a single, young, naïve bird.

They worked until dark to get it done so Time Bomb could be even closer to freedom

There is hope for him though, because the conservation team on Ometepe is growing stronger, with greater capacity and experience to protect and cherish their birds. They are doing so because they know that the extinction clock is ticking for parrots in the Americas due largely to the illegal wildlife trade. But when Time Bomb finally goes off into the wild, we can reset this clock for there will be one more free flying wild parrot that might not have been.

Time Bomb gets to see his first sunset since falling from his nest two weeks earlier

This is conservation, saving one bird, one person, one forest, one community at a time. Every bird and every relationship matters by scaling down to this intimate, precious, and singular level. By doing so we gain the perspective and power to scale up across the broader region.

Thank you Time Bomb for teaching us this lesson. We begin with one while on our way to loving and saving the many.

Emerson feeding Time Bomb in the liberation cage

#animalrescue #Nicaragua #Ometepe

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