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Parrot Cruise inspires Sally’s new home

Sam Williams, PhD | Jan 22, 2015


Working in conservation has allowed me to climb trees and watch wild parrots in Mauritius, Brazil and Bonaire among others. During the 20 years since I first went to Mauritius, oh heck was that really 20 years! I have had so many great experiences with my work. But at the end of last year I found myself somewhere I never expected to be: on a Cruise Ship!

I was pleasantly surprised and I found the Parrot Lovers Cruise to be very enjoyable. Living off the grid in a relatively remote house can be draining at times, especially as we have only four electrical outlets that work, spring fed water pipes that block monthly and the house is, by the way, actually falling down. So it didn’t take long to adapt to the incredible service that was provided on the ship. It felt like a real indulgence to just have working lights in the bedroom.

The first port on the trip was Roatan, which is nice ,but really it only delayed our arrival at The Belieze Bird Rescue which I was looking forward to most. My first pet parrot had been a White-fronted Amazon and it was a delight for me to see rehabilitated and release White-fronts in Nikki’s garden. The next stop was Xcarlet where free flying macaws wowed everyone.

The group were a fun and interested bunch that it was a pleasure to swap dinner tables each night and talk to other parrot enthusiasts. The combination of their passion for parrots and the other speaker’s presentations really inspired me to improve the care of our parrots on Bonaire.

We’ve successfully released over 50 Yellow-shouldered Amazons on Bonaire but we’ve also slowly accumulated a bunch of birds that have collided with cars and were brought to us with broken wings. We do our best with the resources we have but fixing broken wings well is not easy. Other birds like Sally and Weeble, an illegally captured pet parrot that was confiscated by the police and brought to us, are just not suitable for release. So they are stuck with us, we’ve done ok by them but to be honest I’ve wanted to improve our care of them for a while now.

Positive reinforcement training is something I used daily with my pet dogs but we’ve never applied it to the captive flock of birds at Echo. Cassie Malina’s in depth presentation on the subject got me thinking about how we could apply it to make the birds lives more interesting but also to enable us to care for the birds better, like for example getting them to step onto weighing scales for a periodic weigh in. 

James Morrisey gave a very entertaining presentation about veterinary care – I know! Who would have thought that possible? For me this big picture review of how we care for captive birds and how all aspects of their care relates to the health and wellbeing was really refreshing.

Hearing these two great talks was really motivating and I decided we had to do more for the parrots in our care. We’ve got two aviaries and several large cages and depending who arrives, who they get along with others and whether we need to carefully monitor their weight – as we do in the case of fat ex pets we’re generally full or overloaded. This of course is not good for the birds in our care. On top of that some of the birds at Echo have paired up and we need to give them some private space. This of course may lead to parrot chicks and that’s really cool because those could be released into the wild. That would allow the rescued birds to contribute to the recovery of the wild population too.   

This is the situation for Sally and Weeble. They are ex-pets (it’s like ex-pats only they right now they don’t have a great big retirement home). They have been fatties and would love to chomp on everyone else’s food including sunflower seeds all day so they can’t go in the big aviary and we feed them (generously donated) pellets from Hagen along with fruits etc. The smaller aviary has a few misfits in there and so Sally and Weeble have ended up in cages side by side. If somehow Dear Reader you missed the news, Sally and Weeble are in love.

This is a tragedy!!!

The good news is you can make life better for Sally and Weeble and the other parrots at Echo -

Please donate today and help Sally and Weeble get a room!