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Paraguay: The Journey Home

We continue with our updating of our new site with posts from an older conservation blog. This week we highlight Paraguay, because Dr. LoraKim Joyner will be traveling to Paraguay next week. This trip will mark the 4th anniversary of the death of her sister and a trip to Paraguay to honor. That trip also honored the parrots from there who were forcibly removed for the wildlife trade and who ended up in Dr. Joyner's family.

(first published October 2014)

Wild Nanday nest in cattle pasture post in the Gran Chaco, Paraguay

The future unfolds in ways we cannot predict, however if the heart is open to love of the feathered kind, a path, at least in retrospect, becomes clear. As a child I shared my life with several birds. The first was Twinkle, a budgerigar from Australia. Soon after followed a yellow-chevroned parakeet, Barney, known then as a canary-winged parakeet (Brotogeris chiriri). In my early adult years I took a white-eyed parakeet (Psittacara leucophthalma), Bilbo, into my home. My last bird, Exodor, was a nanday conure, also known as a black-hooded parakeet (Aratinga nenday). These last three birds all have ranges in Paraguay, as did my sister’s beloved Birdles, a blue-fronted amazon (Amazona aestiva), known now as the turquoise-fronted parrot. They have all since died and are sorely missed.

Because Paraguay is the home range of so many birds I have loved, I perked up when a colleague of mine, Andrea Grosse, suggested we undertake a parrot conservation trip to this country. Truly, one of my main motivations to go was to see a free flying black-hooded parakeet, and I did!

Wild nandays (a.k.a. black-hooded parakeets) flying free!

Our guide for the day was Arne Lesterhuis, and with us also came Diana Pésole, a wildlife/exotic veterinarian. Driving north out of Asuncion, we visited the dry-chaco habitat, and our end point was Estancia San Rafaela. Driving up to the ranch house, I spied a flying group of four nandays; I admit to squealing when I saw them! By early afternoon we had seen 59 nandays, many of which were in nesting mode.

Nanday chick in wild nest in cattle pasture post (photo by Arne Lesterhuis)

Before leaving the area, I asked my companions to join me in a small ritual. I had brought feathers from Birdles and Exodor to lay down in their ancestral homes. We also read a poem my sister had written, “Fly Away Home.” The path, then, of my sister and me, and I believe of all humans, is to journey home so that we know we belong on this earth, as do all other individuals of other species, who also belong in their own homes, not in ours.

Feather tribute honoring Birdles and Exodor

Fly Away Home

Linda Joyner

March 2, 1954 - September 5, 2014

As I look West towards the setting sun

I think of my parrot moving on and flying away

Migrating to another stage on life’s journey

Sleeping softly and quietly: saving strength for the flight

The desire to find a place where suffering is no more calls you

The need to find a place that replenishes the soul and rekindles the spirit

drives you on your journey to keep searching and fly ever onward

With a cloud of feathers, take wing and leave this earth behind.

Flying where the air is clear and where the sun lights up

your feathers with a radiant glow.

Flying over the rainbow where there is beauty and all wants are met

Flying on to a place where there is only comfort, joy, and love.

Flying onwards to new places and trying new things

Experiencing all the things you were never able to do on earth

Flying with your flock through the rainforest

Calling to others to come follow or come share these new heights

I will look no more for your beauty in this world

For now you are in a place that is safe, warm, and comforting.

Your spirit is free to play and sing as long as your heart desires

Or just rest content in that perfect place that holds all good things.

I will listen for your sweet parrot voice as you call to me

I will admire your valiant spirit and hang onto the perch as you did

I will carry your precious and treasured memories in my heart

And I will wait for the day when our spirits meet once again.

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