Parrot Blogger - Sam Williams

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Sam received support from the World Parrot Trust to research the Yellow-Shouldered Amazons on Bonaire.

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September 18 2014

Tough times in parrot paradise.

by Sam Williams

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Loosing Luella was disappointing but not a complete surprise. She weighed half of what a healthy wild Yellow-shouldered Amazon Parrot would weigh. Not only was she tired and struggling to recover, she also had a broken leg and the combination was just too much for her emaciated little body.

Imagine what your ideal weight would be, be honest, and then half it. It’s shocking! I’m cycling quite a bit and generally pretty fit I could add some muscle and loose a bit of fat but I’m not far off and I weigh in at 72kgs (159lbs). Half of that is 36kg (80lbs) it’s inconceivable.

Anyway Luella was the first chick that has come to us that we haven’t got to release. It saddened me and the team and it was also disappointing. I’d personally taken responsibility for Luella as I tend to do when new arrivals first come in. I believe I did my best but in truth we at Echo don’t have much in terms of equipment or expertise. There isn’t any on the island in truth but we do what we can to help the injured birds. I laughed inwardly when someone on facebook wrote how we should feed her apples and take her to a rescue center or our state’s avian specialist vet. It’s hard for some to appreciate that things don’t work like that here. Until recently you couldn’t be sure the stores here would have apples, never mind an avian specialist veterinarian!

So we were already having a bit of a low moment when we heard news of a ringed bird that had found dead by the side of the road. Frank, who’d let us know was kind enough to pick up the bird and save it for us. It wasn’t just ringed, this road killed parrot had a radio collar on it. One of six we are tracking this year. I couldn’t remember who it was by the rings. Lily did though. She’s been tracking the fledglings and she knew straight away that it was Buzz. For it to be any of them was bad, but Buzz: He fledged from a nest that was practically in my garden, he was my favorite, I’d known him since he was an egg and he was going “to infinity and beyond”. It was horrible. It was the reality of the situation here. Parrots are getting hit by cars quite often.

The next day another parrot was delivered in a box. This time though the bird was alive. Having not been able to reach us on the phone, because we live in an isolated location and have rubbish reception, Paulo had generously driven out to bring the bird to us. This one’s another fledgling who’d bounced off a car. There’s another broken wing and another broken leg, for her and a growing feeling of helplessness for me. But she’s got that Amazon charm by the bucket load. Fluffed up feathers and a cuteness that makes you melt balanced by a fearsome side that rips slices of apple apart faster than a garden shredder could.

After Luella I’m determined to give this sweet girl a better chance. She’s not skin and bones so I think she has better chances. She’s taken to the hand rearing formula better that Luella did and she’s eating for herself a bit. I’m on track with administering what pain relief we have and she’s seems to be doing well. Let’s hope she continues to do so… I searched for the names of female warriors to get a name for this young lady. Camilla was associated with Amazons and could run down horses. Our young lady will have to be a warrior to prevail and although it's unlikely even with perfectly healed legs she'll ever run all that well but we can hope her leg repairs. That's her in the picture and of course I’ll let you know how she's doing.

Posted by Sam Williams on 09/18 at 12:13 PM
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July 10 2014

Wonderful Parroty distractions

by Sam Williams

Living in a hotspot for wild parrots is amazing. I see parrots daily from my office and I can hear them pretty much all the time. There are always parrots in the area and if a bird of prey passes over the parrots, parakeets and other birds go “mental”! As a result I also get to see Crested Caracaras regularly and Peregrine and Merlin Falcons in the winter months too. Falcons, you have to admit, are pretty cool.

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I’ve got a feeding table in the garden too. Bird tables work best when one puts food out at the same time each day, religiously. That doesn’t quite work for me with so many other interesting things going on but nether the less the parrots pop in and visit most days, when there’s food. It was pretty thrilling to creep up to within a few meters of wild parrots and I even pulled out my SLR camera to get some pictures through my now fungus filled lens (the other side of living in the tropics).

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I’ve even got a parrot in the house right now too. Typically there was a lot going on when we received the call that someone had found a parrot. There’s never a good moment to receive a broken parrot. He’s sat in a hospital cage out of sight but in my office and I hear him moving around and feeding from time to time.

You can imagine it’s hard to get any work done with all these parroty distractions. And I haven’t even mentioned the Grove-billed Ani that’s sneaking through the grass as I write or the rampant White-tipped doves bow-cooing and “at it” beneath my window, or the endemic Yellow Oriole with his golden feathers and lovely whistle. (You really should check out the Ani and the Oriole they are gorgeous but don’t bother with, the dove!)

Yet, unfathomably, the challenge of ever getting any work done is even greater than that. I’m not talking about the little flies that have just appeared who will spend their short lives desperately trying to climb into my eyes or the afternoon sun that beats down and threatens to warp my nice desk. I mean the parrot chicks!!!

Within a mile of my house there are many, though still not nearly enough, parrot nests. Deep inside these delightful cliff and tree cavities there are pink, prickly pin feather filled or cute green baby parrots going about their business and growing. Their business also includes rather a lot of eating, digesting and popping too. It’s just amazing how every time I sneak out of the office and run to the hills for a distraction they’ve grown. In two short months white eggs turn into green fledglings. The transformation is simply incredible and it’s a small wonder I get any work done when I could be out there cooing over them!

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Posted by Sam Williams on 07/10 at 08:39 AM
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June 10 2014

Eggs and consequences

by Sam Williams

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I know, I know it’s been “like, for evva” but after nearly two years we’ve managed to get the internet out to our remote solar powered parrot hotspot and home and this week I managed to escape from the office and so there’s some news of adventure to share, now that I'm back in the office. Let’s hope that this may even been the turning of the tide and I will find time to write again more frequently but Dear Reader let’s just take this one step at a time for now.

Did you see? It’s June already! The parrots have shifted from being social creatures in large groups to being absolutely vicious defenders of their territory and nesting opportunity. Those that are nesting are pretty business like in their behaviours. It goes something like this:

Dawn
Mr Parrot “I’m here love”
Mrs Parrot “I’m coming out”
Mr Parrot “Morning here’s your breakfast”
Head bobbing and Glug Glug Glug
Mrs Parrot “Ta! Lovely view out here isn’t it?, I’ve got to get back to doing the incubating. Is that the neighbours over there? Can you go and pull their feathers out darling they really should have got the idea by now”
Mr Parrot “Certainly dear I’ll see to it and I’ll be back this evening”

By contrast those that are not actively nesting are the ones making a real commotion. Their calls are different and they remain together as they check out possible nests. They don’t actually commit to a nest perhaps because there are few sites remaining that are actually suitable (after all the trees were chopped down in the 1800s) or perhaps because they are just not ready yet. But these are the ones that distract the Echo team who have been so dedicated as to rise pre dawn and head out each morning and afternoon to make observations and separate the breeders from those “playing house”.

But yes yes it’s June and things are already in full swing. It was New Year a moment ago and now there are eggs! I was lucky enough to get out with Michaela and Randy to see how the birds are doing. This of course involves precarious abseils (rappels) on sharp rocks often with piddly little trees as anchor points. It makes a nice change from being behind the computer but it is interesting how dangling around on a rope over a large volume of air not to mention jagged rocks has changed now I have more responsibilities, a lovely wife and a few more years. Suddenly I’m thinking about the consequences and I don’t remember doing that before. Nevertheless it was fun and look what we found!

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Posted by Sam Williams on 06/10 at 08:25 AM
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June 20 2013

The Echo logo’s secrets!

by Sam Williams

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For a long time now I've been meaning to describe the lovely little arty details about the new logo design. As we've just installed our great new sign at Dos Pos it seems appropriate do that now. If you haven't seen the sign take a look on our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/echobonaire.org

Cheryl Rutherford
http://www.crutherford.ca/
...generously donated her time and designed the new logo for Echo. Indeed our earlier logo "The Happy Parrot" was also Cheryl's great work but that was actually a T-shirt design that I stole and chopped into a logo. The Echo team and myself love the new logo especially when you hear about the special features that even Robert Langdon would be proud of In Cheryl's words:

"The curve in the underside of the tree, the tree trunk and under the word "Echo" represents an echo: it curves around like, say, the movement of a boomerang. I had read about how the name Echo came to be and thus added this visual representation.

The "heart" in the tree trunk represents "people" and the dedication to conserving the parrots.

The parrots are intentionally flying out of the design/box, representing parrots flying freely and uncaged.
"

The last feature has been brought to life in the sign which was donated by Echo's great friends at Sign Studio
http://bonairesigns.com
...and now stands at the entrance to the Dos Pos Conservation centre.

Cheryl's contributions haven't stopped and she's help us now to get the design on to T-shirts and we hope to be able to tell you about those soon too.

The parrots, the Echo team and I would like to thank Cheryl for her great work on the design and Michael and Diana too for turning it into a fabulous sign!

Posted by Sam Williams on 06/20 at 11:55 AM
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