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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March 13 2012

Biscuit’s Great Escape - The Conclusion

by Sam Williams

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Biscuit was alive. It was incredible because breaking his leg at such a young age would have normally resulted in his very own personal extinction. Back then he couldn’t even feed himself, but despite his many and malicious protests the parrot team persevered and Biscuit as a result had not died a slow and painful death. Hurrah for the Echo team!

It was not all rosy though and Biscuit’s not-dying had come at a heavy cost. He was a prisoner. Biscuit was an optimist, however, and he knew his situation wasn’t as bad as that of some of the other parrots he had met. Bruce, Bob Mad Max and Thatcher all had broken wings, which Biscuit, being a vastly intelligent parrot, knew was a bad thing for a bird. Billy the kid had been shot through his wing in the part equivalent to the human hand and that too could be considered a bad thing. Worst of all it hadn’t been their fault.

It was of course the goats and donkeys that had caused these broken wings! Because Bonaire is so green you, Dear Reader, would be forgiven for thinking this is a wild accusation and that the habitat is in great shape. But those introduced mammalian herbivores have caused such a reduction in the variety of parrot feeding plants on Biscuit’s island home that great gaps in food availability result. It is in these times of hardship when the parrots come to town. This of course is when they bounce off cars, fly into telegraph wires or ironically get shot for eating the mangoes of a goat farmer.

There was no sign of a limp as Biscuit moved along the branch on the morning of his great escape. One of the other parrots was whistling their Great Escape ditty and there were just the right number of clouds in the sky. The flock had done their homework meticulously and concluded that they had to make their bid for freedom on a “branches” day. On those days the door, through which the humans entered the aviary, opened more often and for longer. It was exactly in one of those moments that Biscuit would lead the others in a terrifying drop from the high perch and out of the door. The humans would not see what had happened until Biscuit was already free.

After the intensive weeks of studying the human’s routine it came as quite a shock when the humans put the feeding bowls in the wrong place. Biscuit and his friends could not understand why on that sunny morning the food bowls were sitting on a shelf outside the aviary. Wild parrots flew over the aviary and up and down the valley of Parrotopia and Biscuit feared they might eat his breakfast. Biscuit was concerned. They had everything planned out. They were ready to escape and the humans were screwing it up.

Perry looked puzzled and he leaned over to Biscuit. Just as he was about to say something a strange little door, which Biscuit realised he had not noticed before, slowly and mysteriously opened. What a coincidence that this door would open next to the feeding bowls.

After exchanging more puzzled looks Biscuit and his friend Perry flew to the branch nearest the food bowl and open door. The others were right behind them. Biscuit stepped out on to the shelf. Twiggy, who had very nearly starved to death before joining the Echo flock, flew over. She saw the food and in that moment the significance of what was happening was lost on her. As Twiggy gorged, Biscuit tried to make sense of it. He had stepped closer to the edge of the shelf and a tingle of excitement and fear raced through his body. He couldn’t make sense of it, nor could he wait any longer. So with his wings fully stretched Biscuit launched himself from the shelf and reclaimed his freedom. Hurrah for Biscuit!

It was an explosion of joy. Biscuit screamed euphorically for all he was worth. The others, Perry, Twiggy, Isla and Johan, and the two juveniles instantly felt the tingle as well. Perry almost knocked Twiggy from her food bowl as he scrambled to launch himself. Biscuit was now flying around making arcing turns and moving up and down. Perry too seized his chance and dove into the endless open sky. Hurrah for Perry!

Even the food could not keep Twiggy and so for the first time in her life she flew in a world without boundaries. Hurrah for Twiggy! All the while each of the parrots called out, and then called out some more. The excitement and fear in that moment was indescribable.

The young parrots flew like fledglings. Their rapid and shallow wing beats and their calls brought tears to the eyes of even the most hardened Echo team member. In that instant everything had changed. Biscuit now had 30, 40 maybe 50 years of freedom ahead of him.

Biscuit was just one of over 100 parrots and parakeets that the Echo team have been caring for. Dear Reader do please take a moment to consider what Biscuit’s great escape will mean for him, just as it will for each of these 100 birds. Rather than living a life in prison Biscuit will now be able to fly wherever he chooses across Bonaire. Biscuit will taste Shimaruku cherries straight off the branch. He will be free to choose his mate and one day he will get to make love in the treetops. Hurrah for Biscuit making love in the treetops!

Posted by Sam Williams on 03/13 at 02:56 PM
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February 27 2012

Biscuit’s Great Escape

by Sam Williams

It was a perfect morning in parrot-topia. The sun was rising dependably. The songbirds welcomed the day and the delightful wild parrots chortled in the tree-tops. In another life Biscuit would have been perfecting the art of steaming milk to complete his morning cup of hand ground Kenyan coffee. Biscuit however, was well and truly in this life. Like so many other vastly intelligent captive parrots he was once again coming to terms with the imperfect nature of his current existence. Biscuit was a prisoner and quite frankly he was sick of it.

Unlike many of his companions in the old aviary Biscuit had fledged from a wild nest and he had flown in the wild. The other parrots of course Dear Reader had been taken from their families, and from freedom, before they had even grown a full coat of feathers. Biscuit knew how perfect it could be to fly through a tree-lined valley and have his raucous calls echoing back at him.

Without knowing how or why Biscuit found himself whistling a perfect rendition of the theme tune to a classic movie he couldn’t name. Steve McQueen had always been a motorcycling hero of Biscuit’s but to find himself whistling away to The Great Escape as he was seemed rather improbable. And so it was in this perplexing position, as the sun rose in a perfect arc, that Biscuit had a brilliant idea.
Biscuit was going to escape!

Without a moment pause Biscuit quickly huddled together with the other 6 parrots to share the idea. His close companion Perry almost fell of his perch at its brilliance. This first reaction from the flock was reassuring but how would the others react Biscuit wondered. Twiggy, who had once experienced starvation, wasn’t sure as she did not want to risk her food supply. As usual the 2 juveniles from the July rescue didn’t have much to say but they were not against it.

Surprisingly it was Isla and Johan who threw a spanner in the works. They were more or less, in a round-a-bout way, against the idea. They had already been free, and even produced an egg during their time on the old kunuku and they felt sure their day of freedom would not be far away. (Dear Reader in cased you missed the news: Isla and Johan were re-caught so that they could join the other parrots in parrot-topia). Biscuit felt a terrible sense of disappointment. It was like going out on a Friday night for the first time in months only to have your good friend stay at home on the couch.

All hope was not lost, however, it was just that Isla and Johan wanted a perfect plan. The challenge only motivated Biscuit further. From that moment on his life changed. He had a purpose, and together with Perry they would study the feeding routine and the re-branching routine. They would time door openings and see which of the dedicated Echo team was most attentive with security and which was not. They would examine every inch of the aviaries wire mesh and every screw in every frame until they had a clear plan. Feeling the musical tingle once again Biscuit happily led Perry and Twiggy in a perfect chorus “One way or another, I’m gonna find a way, I’m gonna get out, I’m gonna get out get out get out and be free, one way or another I’m gonna join the wild parrots and fly through the valleys once again”

Sadly Dear Reader there’s not sufficient time to share with you the outcome of Biscuit’s Great Escape right now. Doing the caring of parrots is relentless and alas the hungry little devils beckon and so this all to brief a moment of writing must draw to a close. Anyway if we did continue at this precise moment there would be no cliff hanger to this otherwise tantalising tale. Be sure to check the parrots.org website in the near future to find out what happens!

If you’d like to find out the most very latest news from the parrots and Echo team please do have a look at the Echo facebook page http://www.facebook.com/echobonaire.org

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Posted by Sam Williams on 02/27 at 02:02 PM
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February 15 2012

Biscuits ready

by Sam Williams

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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: http://www.facebook.com/echobonaire.org

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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