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Broken Hearted but Flying Free

Pranza is a medium sized Miskito village in Honduras. When I visited there in 2016 I filmed a young girl with a scarlet macaw. The macaw had been rescued from a forest fire as a chick and had been raised with the girl. The girl, Cynthia, was the only one who could safely interact with the parrot, and they did constantly (as you can see from the film). The bird's wings had not been clipped, but the macaw never flew far from the house. People always ask me about the bird and the girl, for the video is quite captivating.

I was back in Pranza in January 2018 and had a chance to visit this same house and talk to the grandmother. "What happened to the macaw and the girl?" I asked, for neither were there. She then proceeded to tell me the story, which is captured here on video.

"Cynthia's mother had to move to Tegucigalpa, and leave the scarlet macaw behind. The day of the move came, and Cynthia was screaming and crying, "My macaw, my macaw!" The mother bought Cynthia snacks to help her feel better, and I told her that the macaw would come the next day, knowing that this would not happen. Cynthia left Pranza crying and then called me all the time asking about, "My macaw, my macaw?" Shortly after she left, the macaw pulled his feathers out (a common stress reaction), and walked all over the house looking for Cynthia. The feathers eventually grew back in and the macaw began to fly further and higher. It was like there was no reason to stay if there was no Cynthia. One day a group of 4 wild macaws flew over, and our macaw joined them. I haven't seen him since."

"How did you feel about this?" I asked.

"It was so hard to see the bird go, but.....pree palisa (Miskito for "fly free"). We humans are not prisoners, and so the animals they want their liberty too. I feel such pain that our parrots are taken from their nests and sold for pets."

The current parrot of this household is a yellow-naped amazon. She had a fractured wing that happened when poachers had cut the nest tree down so they could sell the chicks. The parrot is a timid thing with poor feather quality, and when I saw her all she did was growl and try to not fall to the ground when startled, for her wings are useless.

Parrot showing wing out of position and faded green feathers (the bird is also very small, probably a sign of malnutrition)

There is such heartache between people and parrots. We love them so much, and sometimes they love us. But it can come at a great cost to the innocent. Science is showing that even time cannot cure all broken hearts.

That's why we do all that we can, so that we prevent the brokenness of wings or of relationships. Conservation, then, is a work of healing so that all beings may fly free.

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