December 31 2012
Today, some friends who are visiting encouraged me to slow down for a moment and reflect on what the Echo team and I have achieved over the past 12 months. I must admit these days I prefer just to "get on with it" rather than to reflect, but it was a satisfying pause. If you'll spare me a moment of your time, I'd like to tell you about some of the highlights. Please keep in mind that our achievements are only possible thanks to the donations of incredible parrot enthusiast around the world.
When 2012 began, we were already in full swing with the rescue of over 100 parrots and parakeets. In February, Echo moved to Dos Pos, a top parrot spot on Bonaire that was the perfect place to release the rescued birds. It was the perfect location for the Echo team, too. Over this past year, we released 35 parrots in addition to the nine we had already released in 2011. Most were illegally captured but some were injured. Four of those who were injured had broken wings, one been shot, and another had a broken leg. All recovered and were released.
The rescued parakeets recovered well, too. 94 birds were rescued, and though three died and four had to remain in permanent captive care, 87 were released into the wild. Some have even come back to the release site with chicks of their own this breeding season. Our rescue work continues, and you can find out more about our adoptable parrots at http://www.adoptaparrot.org.
Sally, who you can adopt, has already lost her "Fat" title
Our work with wild parrots kept us busy this year, too. 2012 was our seventh year of population monitoring. We have been banding parrot chicks since 2006, and though it is hard work, we're hoping to learn new insights about parrot survival by recording sightings of the birds after they have fledged.
Thanks to support from the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, we were able to share our parrot fieldwork experiences with two great guys from Puerto Rico, where they are working with one of the world's rarest parrot species. Having them here was a real honour and we're sure the parrots will benefit from the experiences we shared together.
In addition to monitoring, we're trying to help the breeding parrots as well. We've been busy making nest boxes, which we hope will compensate for the loss of ancient trees, which were cut down in the 1800s. Introduced bees have taken over many of the remaining natural nest sites, so we have also begun to manage bees. We hope to remove every hive in a known parrot nest during the upcoming non-breeding season.
It's clear that we need to restore the parrots' habitat and we're working on this in various ways. This year, we established a native plant nursery and we've been growing trees that will one day be sources of food and nesting sites for the parrots. We are in the process of building a fenced area to keep out herbivorous feral goats, donkeys, and pigs where some of those trees will be planted. And we are doing a lot of outreach to show people why habitat is so important not only for the parrots, but for people, too.
Though none of us saw the ancient trees that were on Bonaire before the 1800s, we can still celebrate the incredible trees that are here. That's exactly what we've been doing with local students. The results are an online Google Earth map and a better appreciation of nature among local kids. In addition to that, we've been working very hard simply to get children and young people outdoors. Echo team member Michaela says, "You know it works when, upon seeing the released parrots, they all go quiet." Almost every child from the nearby town of Rincon has now been to Echo's Dos Pos Conservation Centre. Many adults have, too!
2012 was only Echo's second official year and I think it was a successful one. The achievements I've mentioned here are just the highlights - there is much more going on. We're growing the organisation and establishing projects such as the native plant nursery that will benefit Bonaire's parrots in the years to come. It is the support of parrot enthusiast like yourself that makes this all possible.
We have big ambitions for parrot conservation in 2013 and I'd like to encourage you to help the parrots. Right now the best way to do so is to adopt a parrot! Sally, Bubba, and Olivia are incredible parrots whom you can support. I am sure that following their adventures is something you won't want to miss.
Also, if you adopt Sally now, you can double your support thanks to conscientious parrot-keeper Cornell from Connecticut, USA, who has pledged to match the first $2,000 raised for Sally. Please find out more and adopt a parrot at http://www.adoptaparrot.org.