The Military Macaw (Guacamaya) is a magnificent bird and is endangered because it, and its close relations, macaws of other colours, are so beautiful that they are in demand as pets, despite this being illegal.
You see lots of people hawking photo opportunities with their birds perched on your shoulder, particularly when you are taking various tours around the place. The practice should be discouraged (and ditto with the iguanas, so often stolen from their habitats and kept on a string.)
Actually, Macaws are inappropriate pets as they mate for life, live and breed in areas not accessible to man (tall trees or caves in high cliffs) and are very noisy. That’s when they are happiest! There is nothing like the sight of them flying overhead, squawking as they go to let their mates know they are on their way home. As well, they have rather dangerous beaks that can snap off a human finger.
Just near where I live is the Jarretaderas Parrot House established by a man, Tim Stigar, who has spent his own cash on setting it up and running it including the building of some magnificent brick and concrete bird flights and large cages, hospital wings and so on. No government funding. A self-taught bird-vet, he rescues birds that have been confiscated by customs, hunts for an appropriate mate for each and hopes to establish a successful breeding program, something that is a real challenge for the particular birds he cares for.
There are bird counts and studies in progress in the region too, tracking and monitoring the wild birds. Dr. Carlos Bonilla and Claudia Cristina Conta Magallon have drawn up an extensive and intelligent conservation plan for the birds in conjunction with the head of Birding Mexico, the very dedicated Alejandro Martinez Rodriguez. These studies are part of an ongoing thesis which will make the world more knowledgeable about this amazing avian creature.
The ecological conservation and environmental awareness that some nations have at grass roots level has not hit Mexico yet but with the work of the folk mentioned above it won’t be long before it does.
And that is a good thing as mating pairs of Guacamayas are at dangerously low numbers. We wish all these people well with their work and their studies and hope that they can be supported by volunteers and benefactors.
The bird in the photo is a rainbow macaw – quite rare – and is in the care of Mr. Stigar at the Parrot House in Jarretaderas, who told me today that he has a mating pair of macaws he has nursed back to health and they are ready to breed. Will keep you posted as to his success in that direction!
Note: If you are interested in becoming a funding god-parent to any of the progeny or patients at the Parrot House, let us know and we will pass on your query to Mr. Stigar.