Parrot Blogger - Sam Williams

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

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February 15 2012

Biscuits ready

by Sam Williams


Biscuit hated people and he was thoroughly sick and tired of human aversion training. He had hated people from the day a nice lady called to say she had found him as an injured parrot. He had made sure that every human he met knew he hated them. He’d even gone so far as to leave a long trail of puncture wounds and blood blisters to show his feelings. Even when the parrot team had carefully looked after him he had shown less gratitude than a disturbed scorpion.

Biscuit’s broken leg, which had been splinted, was long healed and he didn’t even have a limp. Biscuit, as you will now doubt recall Dear Reader was one of the many young parrots in need of rehabilitation that Echo took on in addition to the huge rescue from July 2011, yes it was 7 months ago! Unlike the 100+ chicks in the July rescue Biscuit had fledged from a wild nest. Consequently he was quite certain of the fact he was a parrot and that he didn’t like people. He was a perfect candidate for release.

Perry had also fledged in the wild shortly before being found in the mouth of a German Shepherd. He too was ready to get out of the cage and he too was sick of human aversion training. What neither Biscuit nor Perry had realised was the improvement in their fitness that had come as a result of the training. They were both stronger, leaner, and keener of eye than they had been and indeed they were ready to go.

The parrot team were of course fully aware of the parrot’s readiness to be free. Indeed, after so many months of looking after so many parrots the parrot team were equally, if not more enthusiastic, for these birds to be free.

Luckily for humans and parrots alike the stars aligned, the full moon shone and a fantastic location in the middle of parrot heaven was secured where the parrots could be released. Since that time incessant, furious and rampant efforts have been made by the now aching parrot team to prepare the site. This Dear Reader has been the cause of the recent scarcity of news. Despite our apparent absence tremendous progress has been made.

The moons and planets aligned once more and before they knew it Biscuit, Perry and 5 other birds were plucked from their home and taken to the new location. In this new cage they saw incredible views and all around them were wild parrots.

From the first day Biscuit and Perry arrived the wild parrots came to visit. They could hardly contain their excitement. In much the same way that fellow release parrot Monty had known the end of his long walk to freedom was coming they too knew that soon they would be free.

We’ll be sure to tell you all about what happens in the next parrot news. If you can’t bear the excitement until then perhaps you might want to check out Echo’s facebook page for the latest news and pictures:

Posted by Sam Williams on 02/15 at 09:25 AM
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February 10 2012

A quick catch up

by Sam Williams

There's so much happening for the parrot team right now! This unfortunately has meant that I just haven't had a moment to sit still and therefore right about what we or indeed the parrots and parakeets are up to. We'll have a very quick catch up now and then hopefully soon Dear Reader another tale of parrot adventures will follow....

Both the parrots and the parakeets are now getting close to release and Echo's vet Jon wants each individual to leave his care in the very best condition. So each and every parakeet has just had a health check and a dose of anti parasite formula dabbed on each armpit. With nearly 50 parakeets still waiting for release this was quite a procedure with four people assisting Jon: one person catching the jet fighter fast parakeets in a proper parrot catching net, another did the dabbing of the dose, a third was note taking and the fourth redistributed the checked individual into a separate aviary. It almost goes without saying that all the birds were in fine fettle thanks to Jon's dedicated care and the support of the wonderful volunteers that help him out.

There's little to report on the parrots as they are also all fine. Two new birds arrived on New Years Eve (which had until that moment been a day off for Jon). And yet another arrived after having been caught in Rincon. All three had been illegal pets and the first two were actually confiscated by the police. This most recent addition was an escapee but the people that caught him noticed he had a foot problem. Having dropped everything he was doing Jon inspected the bird and removed what appears to have been hair (though I still don't believe it) that was wrapped tightly around a toe. The cut into the toe was very bad and it may not recover. I've just realised we've been so busy that we haven't had chance to name these three birds. What a terrible situation this is! Anyway the poor little devil was very hungry and thirsty and after being given some fluids he gulped water and food. He's a charming young parrot and is now receiving a twice daily potion of goodness from Jon and doing very well.

The reason we have been so busy and why now at 6am I am going to have to stop and get on with other jobs, is because we are moving the project and all the parrots to a dream location. In a foolish effort to save pennies for the parrots the parrot team have become carpenters and we've not only built a great big release aviary, we've made shutters, doors and even door frames for our new abode. Dianne our star volunteer from Texas who was here in the crazy first day of the rescue is back. She was lured in by the prospect of getting to see a release. Little did she know she'd have to help build the aviary and fix the house where she'll stay before even seeing a parrot. It's been an incredible few weeks and indeed the team are as good as exhausted. But very very soon there will be parrots one step closer to being free. I look forward to telling you all about it soon!

Posted by Sam Williams on 02/10 at 03:20 AM
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December 19 2011

Even Fat Parrots Need Help

by Sam Williams


Unlike Fat Sally, Kota had never tried to convince himself that he had big bones. He had tried to hide his growing proportions, but it was clear to him that he was getting fat. He took to sitting with his feathers fluffed up all the time. It was a bit like wearing ever-baggier T-shirts and yes it sort of worked, at first.

It wasn’t long though before his growth was so considerable that bare skin emerged from between his dull feathers. The low slung under carriage that drooped between his legs grew and grew, as did “the padding” on his hips. Soon he altogether stopped looking like a parrot and started looking rather more like a giant bell.

Kota was fat, it was obvious and he didn’t like it. His liver too was in terrible shape, possibly worse then an alcoholics he said. Sadly poor Kota was powerless to do anything about it. All he was fed were those delicious, oily and addictive sunflower seeds. They were like a dieters nightmare encased in a cute black and white striped suit. It goes without saying that Kota’s living conditions were so diabolical that there was never a hope of him getting exercise.

It was as though Kota came from Houston. He ate too much fatty food and he never got any exercise. This situation is unfortunately normal for many people in Houston and it is normal for many parrots on Bonaire. Kota weighed about twice the weight he should have. So it was like a handsome Spanish man who might typically weigh 75 kgs (150lbs) actually weighing 150kgs or 300lbs.

Kota became so fat that his bell-bottom couldn’t hold any more and so another rather more unsightly fatty lump grew on his neck. It was a grotesque double chin and Kota thought it made him look like a Turkey. For any parrot, and parrots Dear Reader as you know are second only to the great apes in terms of intelligence and rather more beautiful besides, to be treated this way was a humiliation.

Sadly for Kota, he was like a turkey and at best he could only waddle along. It seemed there was no hope of him ever flying again. In a strange way Kota was glad that the lump appeared and grew on the front of his neck. He had been having trouble perching and the weight on his neck helped balance that hanging on his behind. It did however mean there was even more weight on his feet.

Poor Kota had terrible feet problems. His ancestors had evolved over millions of years to perch on the branches of trees and yet here he was on a metal perch with a uniform diameter. Whenever he climbed down the rusty cage wire to the floor of his home the joints of his feet hurt as they arthritically flattened and stretched out.

From the floor of his cage Kota would occasionally see wild parrots as they flew past shimmering in the sunlight. Seeing the wild parrots inspired Kota but at the same time it left him utterly depressed and dejected, as he knew there was no hope for him. A wild parrot may live for over 40 years but the chance of Kota getting past 10 were incredibly slim. Truth be known in these moments Kota actually wished he was a Turkey.
Kota wished he was a turkey, especially at this time of year, because he knew then there would be a good chance that some human or other would end his misery and roast him. This poor Kota believed was the only hope of changing his miserable life.

Dear Reader you will of course be aware that it doesn’t have to be this way. You may not however be aware that you can help Kota. You can change Kota’s life and many other parrots like him. With your support the Echo team will be able to provide veterinary care for these incredible individuals who have no option to choose a better life. Fatty lumps like Kota’s can be removed with a simple surgery. In addition our charming Spanish vet Jon will be able to discuss with parrot owners how they could improve the care of their pet parrots. With your support the Echo team will be able to make repeat house visits to ensure these parrots are getting the good care they deserve.

Please visit and help birds like Kota by donating today.

(Donations are US tax deductible).

Does Kota's bum look big to you?

Please donate today and help improve the care of pet birds like these and also injured wild birds

Posted by Sam Williams on 12/19 at 12:09 PM
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December 06 2011

Life goes downhill for Sid and Marvin

by Sam Williams


Sid was the youngest and possibly the most adorable of the parrots rescued on July 1st. In the past five months he had changed from a tiny pink bundle of joy into the one of the most handsome of birds. His condition was tiptop and his glossy green feathers shimmered in the light. He was, too beautiful.

Marvin had arrived starvin’ a little later in the year. The Echo team’s diligent care of the poor bird had produced a pleasantly plump parrot. Marvin too, was a most handsome and eligible young chap.

In many respects Sid and Marvin lived enchanted lives. Each morning and afternoon they were served freshly chopped fruits and vegetables. As young parrots they were still being fed by hand with a delicious gloop of nutritious baby parrot food. Their home was cleaned daily and fresh branches were provided three or more times each week. They were kings.

The afternoon of November 14th was typically sunny. Sid and Marvin had been growing agitated because the humans had been reducing the amount of delicious baby food forcing them face the indecency of foraging for themselves. This afternoon, they reassured each other, things would be back to normal. So it came as quite a shock when the human brought the afternoons 16 dishes to be distributed among the parrots and parakeets but then turned and left without serving the young kings their baby food.

“An oversight for sure” Sid told Marvin, but he was wrong. The next afternoon the very same thing happened. This continued and it became clear to the young kings the good times were through. No sooner has this dawned on them then construction work began. Great sheets of plywood were fastened to the aviary preventing the parrots from seeing the nice humans as they arrived to serve the endless dishes of food. Dear Reader do not be concerned it not as though young Sid and Marvin are now in a box. The entire other side their large aviary is open to views of the surrounding habitat.

They waited to see how the humans would deliver their food dishes now. It was funny because they knew the food wood arrive in a bowl as it always had done. Just as one supermarket is pretty similar to any other supermarket, but still when the food arrived through the new little slot for feeding dish they just had to check it out for themselves.

Sid and Marvin thought it was a terrible shame that they couldn’t use their relatively large eyes to watch the human approach their palace. Dear Reader you will no doubt know that parrots, like most birds, have incredible vision. Not only can they see full colour but they can see the ultraviolet light too. The shimmering feathers of a boy parrot may look the same as those of a girl parrot to our human eyes but to them, the difference is couldn’t be clearer.
Parrots like pigeons have their eyes on the sides of their head allowing them to spot predators from afar. I’m sure you’ll agree Dear Reader that while pigeons of course deserve to be eaten parrots like Sid and Marvin should remain sacred and never be preyed upon.

Unlike parrots the Merlin and Peregrine falcons that find their way to Bonaire each winter without the need for a jet plane, have heads that are quite wide. This enables bifocal vision and brings great accuracy to their hunting. If in doubt about the value of bifocal vision we suggest you close one eye and try and touch a specific point some way in front of you (but obviously within reach!). Merlin’s and Peregrines are of course the birds that eat pigeons. What’s more they are now flying above and around Bonaire in great abundance and if you are on the island and you’d care to use your myopic human eyes you’ll easily be able to spot one.

Dear Reader we must get back on track. The reason Sid and Marvin found themselves closed off and excluded is because they are in a cage and the Echo team would like for them, or anybody else to be free. Sid and Marvin of course were not aware of the Echo team’s intentions and so when the human entered the aviary to clean the aviary they flew down to say hello. In that same moment a tremendous noise could be heard. Sid and Marvin looked at each other in bewilderment and fear. For a passing moment Sid thought that it might just be yet another Icelandic volcano erupting, only this time on Bonaire. Similarly Marvin wondered whether the Mayan calendar, and indeed the crazy Hollywood movie they’d watched the other week were true. Was the world coming to an end?

The terrible noise continued for some moments. The human continued with his cleaning task. Sid and Marvin were terribly afraid and they realised the human must not be aware the world was ending. Very quickly the human left the aviary and as the door closed the noise ended. The young kings were puzzled and they thought about the world ending long into the night.

The next morning the food dishes were served as normal. The parrots ate, they played a little, they digested and all too soon it was afternoon again. Sid and Marvin were expecting the afternoon dishes to be served with the dedicated tedium the parrot team know all to well but instead a human entered the aviary and suddenly the world started to end once more.

Sid and Marvin quickly decided they didn’t like humans anymore. The humans didn’t bring them their food dishes anymore they just arrived through the slots and whenever the humans were there the world nearly ended. It was as thought the humans were a bad thing. Sid and Marvin decided they would stay well away from humans from now on.

Hopefully Dear Reader this will indeed be the case. Once we are absolutely adamant that Sid, Marvin and the other parrots have a healthy dislike of humans it will be possible to release them back into the wild on Bonaire. It has been a long journey to reach this point and only possible thanks to incredible donations and funding Echo has received. Huge thanks go out to our supporters.

Posted by Sam Williams on 12/06 at 10:36 AM
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