Updated: Jul 8, 2021
Scarlet macaw parent flying to their nest in Honduras
Wherever One Earth Conservation has projects, there is tremendous pressure from the international and domestic wildlife trade to meet the demand of those who want parrots. Perhaps they do not know that to satisfy human desire, thousands of wild birds are sacrificed from the already drastically reduced and endangered populations of parrots. I tell you this because, as in the words from WS Rendra:
I hear a voice, the cry of a wounded animal; someone shoots an arrow at the moon.
A small bird has fallen from the nest. People must be awakened; witness must be given.
So that life can be guarded.
Our community and organizational partners go far and wide to guard nests. Here is a summary of their valiant and impressive work for the 2020-2021 nesting season.
In La Moskitia, Honduras, so far 9 nests of 126 have been poached. The nesting season continues through July, with some nests fledging later.
Parrot rangers in La Moskitia, Honduras working hard!
In Cuyamel, Honduras, it’s possible that all 3 nests of yellow-headed amazon were poached. This is a devastatingly low number of active nests. The nesting season ended in May.
Yellow-headed amazon nest in 2021
In Punta Manabique, Guatemala, only 1 nest of 14 was poached. This is an incredible result given the weekly presence of poachers. The nesting season ended in June.
Rangers in Guatemala with confiscated poaching gear
(they caught the poachers in the act of poaching under the nest tree!)
On the Pacific Slope of Guatemala almost one third of our nests were lost to poachers. The disturbing news is that we could only confirm the presence of a total of 7 nests in 7 locations – a frighteningly low number of active nests considering the area covered. The nesting season ended in May.
Dr. LoraKim Joyner with rangers in Guatemala
In Karasabai, Guyana, the parrot rangers are learning to protect their sun parakeets from poachers, and we documented our first successfully protected nests in the months leading up to the pandemic in 2020. Ranger activity has nearly stopped for the last 6 months because of the high risk of Covid-19 infections passing into Guyana from neighboring Brazil. The nesting season is largely unknown for this species, but current evidence indicates that the parakeets may breed nearly year-round, with a slight break in August and September.
Parakeet rangers in Guyana on their way out for a 4-day patrol
In Rewa, Guyana, the parrot rangers mostly work to monitor nests, and not to protect, as the village has forbidden trapping, which is otherwise legal in Guyana. Nests were lost to natural causes, but not because of humans. The nesting season is nearly over.
On Ometepe Island in Nicaragua, 4 out of 52 nests were lost this past year due to poaching. The nesting season ends in May.
Rewa parrot rangers training the next generation
In Concepcion, Paraguay, we have parrot protectors and 22 macaw nests were
protected, and maybe only one was poached. We start the 2021-2022 nesting season in Paraguay this month. The nesting season ends in December.
The macaws we love and protect in Paraguay
In many areas our success is growing, but it is a fragile thing. For instance, the poaching and threats of violence towards our parrot protectors in many areas was higher this year than the year before. We must find a way to curtail a possible trend of increased loss by evaluating our strategies and perhaps changing them.
Road block team led by ICF and joined by police, military,
and Apu Puani (Scarlet macaw) rangers
One way that we are trying to improve our strategies in La Moskitia Honduras is to place road checks along the road in conjunction with the forestry service, the police, and the military. Of the many nests pilfered, and the chicks doomed to early deaths and a lifetime of low welfare and suffering, these road blocks only confiscated one olive-throated parakeet.
Confiscated olive-throated parakeet being turned over by ICF
to the Rescue and Liberation Center of Mabita
But at the least the life of this one was saved.
Youngsters of two species "playing" with each other
It is not much, but it matters a great deal to this parakeet, who did not quit chattering nearly all of the daylight hours where I was there in May. What do we hear this parakeet say? Perhaps what Leonard Cohen sang in his song "Anthem,"
Here are the words in full: The birds they sing, at the break of day Start again, I heard them say. Don’t dwell on what has passed away Or what is yet to be.
Olive-throated parakeet overseeing feeding of the Center's chicks
Conservation is both healing the invisible wounds that would otherwise never pass away, and a letting go of results. This is no easy place to be – to live with the tragedy and not knowing its continued course.
But what I do know is the parakeet telling me the beauty of her life, inviting us to take with us the great wonder and loss of the past year, and start the nesting season of 2021-2022 with a freshness of spirit fed by this international community of care. Thank you for being a part through your witness and contributions. If you'd like to celebrate with us join us for our Fall Gala - Feeding Our Spirit with Birds and Ballads.