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Tough times in parrot paradise

Sam Williams, PhD | Sep 18, 2014


Losing Luella was disappointing but not a complete surprise. She weighed half of what a healthy wild Yellow-shouldered Amazon Parrot would weigh. Not only was she tired and struggling to recover, she also had a broken leg and the combination was just too much for her emaciated little body.

Imagine what your ideal weight would be, be honest, and then half it. It’s shocking! I’m cycling quite a bit and generally pretty fit I could add some muscle and loose a bit of fat but I’m not far off and I weigh in at 72kgs (159lbs). Half of that is 36kg (80lbs) it’s inconceivable.

Anyway Luella was the first chick that has come to us that we haven’t got to release. It saddened me and the team and it was also disappointing. I’d personally taken responsibility for Luella as I tend to do when new arrivals first come in. I believe I did my best but in truth we at Echo don’t have much in terms of equipment or expertise. There isn’t any on the island in truth but we do what we can to help the injured birds. I laughed inwardly when someone on facebook wrote how we should feed her apples and take her to a rescue center or our state’s avian specialist vet. It’s hard for some to appreciate that things don’t work like that here. Until recently you couldn’t be sure the stores here would have apples, never mind an avian specialist veterinarian!

So we were already having a bit of a low moment when we heard news of a ringed bird that had found dead by the side of the road. Frank, who’d let us know was kind enough to pick up the bird and save it for us. It wasn’t just ringed, this road killed parrot had a radio collar on it. One of six we are tracking this year. I couldn’t remember who it was by the rings. Lily did though. She’s been tracking the fledglings and she knew straight away that it was Buzz. For it to be any of them was bad, but Buzz: He fledged from a nest that was practically in my garden, he was my favorite, I’d known him since he was an egg and he was going “to infinity and beyond”. It was horrible. It was the reality of the situation here. Parrots are getting hit by cars quite often.

The next day another parrot was delivered in a box. This time though the bird was alive. Having not been able to reach us on the phone, because we live in an isolated location and have rubbish reception, Paulo had generously driven out to bring the bird to us. This one’s another fledgling who’d bounced off a car. There’s another broken wing and another broken leg, for her and a growing feeling of helplessness for me. But she’s got that Amazon charm by the bucket load. Fluffed up feathers and a cuteness that makes you melt balanced by a fearsome side that rips slices of apple apart faster than a garden shredder could.

After Luella I’m determined to give this sweet girl a better chance. She’s not skin and bones so I think she has better chances. She’s taken to the hand rearing formula better that Luella did and she’s eating for herself a bit. I’m on track with administering what pain relief we have and she’s seems to be doing well. Let’s hope she continues to do so… I searched for the names of female warriors to get a name for this young lady. Camilla was associated with Amazons and could run down horses. Our young lady will have to be a warrior to prevail and although it's unlikely even with perfectly healed legs she'll ever run all that well but we can hope her leg repairs. That's her in the picture and of course I’ll let you know how she's doing.