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August 12

Sam Williams, PhD | Aug 12, 2006


Another week has past and we didn’t catch a single parrot. That’s despite putting in a lot of time and even trying some imaginative ideas. What’s worse is that following the rain the local bug populations have gone through the roof making siting still for long periods even more uncomfortable. It’s all relative though and I know we are still very lucky in this respect on Bonaire, as it is a dry island.

So what were the imaginative ideas? Well as we had little interest in the food we put out at one site I though it might be a good idea to advertise the fact there was a plentiful supply so that it would be impossible for the birds to miss it. Parrots take visual cues that fruit is available from a given tree, so I thought I’d fill the Calabash tree next to the trap with fruit. Calabash fruit has a hard shell and in fact the shells are used to make maracas. I collected a bag load of old calabash shells from beneath a productive tree I knew of, I then spray painted them so they looked ripe, drilled holes in the shells and attached string so they could be hung in the tree. Shortly afterward the tree appeared full of big, ready to eat fruit. That wasn’t all I had planned though…

The second phase of my cunning plan was to borrow Oscar the wonderful pet parrot of George and Laura DeSalvo. Oscar is a “totally bomb proof” character and rather than being phased by the whole thing he appeared to thoroughly enjoy a trip out. He used to be a sailing parrot and you may have seen him on the cover of Psittascene for the February 2004 issue.

Even with a tree full of fruit, a wolf whistling decoy bird and a load of fruit ready to eat on the ground we could not persuade the wild parrots to even show an interest. So in our last efforts before we lose faith altogether we are going to build some kind of walk in trap we can put up in the trees. We will just have to see how that goes. Hopefully we may have better luck…