The VI Loro Parque Parrot Convention

The VI Loro Parque Parrot Convention

Nov 6, 2006

Notes from the Field – November 2006

By Lorraine Otto, CFO, Indonesian Parrot Project

This past September, My husband Rob and I flew to Tenerife, to attend The VI International Parrot Convention. Tenerife, largest of the Canary Islands, is located off the west coast of Africa, and is home to Loro Parque. Loro Parque has the world’s largest collection of parrots, containing over 300 species

The convention which was held from September 27- 30, contained a wealth of information on conservation of parrots in the wild, and the maintenance and breeding of parrots in captivity. Improvements in both areas were encouraged, with hopes that fewer of these magnificent and sentient creatures will suffer, both in captivity and in the wild.

Rosemary Low, the first guest speaker, lectured on aviculture and conservation, and highlighted on how the two diverse groups might work together more often. She emphasized that both groups have knowledge of mutual benefit. Unfortunately, an exchange of that knowledge seldom occurs, and it remains virtually untapped outside of that group.

Rosemary also described the achievements of a few remarkable individuals who have made a strong impact on parrot conservation. One of those achievers that she spoke about was Stewart Metz, and how his desire to contribute to the conservation of the Seram Cockatoo, led to his involvement in the Indonesian Parrot Project.

Our Scientific Advisor, Dr. Donald Brightsmith, lectured on “The Psittacine Year: What drives annual cycles in Tambopata’s parrots?” He mentions that “Psittacines are notoriously difficult to study in the wild…..due to their lack of territorial behavior, vocalization behavior, long distance movements, and canopy dwelling nature.” In order to effectively conserve parrot populations in the wild, one needs detailed data of their requirements and natural history cycles. He mentions that only in this way can we ensure that their important habitat elements are protected, and that the species will continue.

Dr. Paul Salaman received a 2nd place award, for his speech, “A bright future for parrots in Columbia”. His introduction began with “An ominous past for parrots”, highlighted by a chilling statement that pioneer Amercian ornithologist, Alexander Wilson wrote after encountering the Carolina Parakeet in the 19th century. “I saw them in great numbers. They came screaming through the woods in the morning……Having shot down a number, some of which were only wounded. the whole flock swept repeatedly around their prostrate companions, and again settled on a low tree, within twenty yards of the spot where I stood. At each successive discharge though showers of them fell, yet the affection of the survivors seemed rather to increase, for, after a few circuits around the place, they again alighted near me, looking down on their slaughtered companions with such manifest symptoms of sympathy and concern, as entirely disarmed me.” This haunting tale depicts the beginning of the end for that sociable and affectionate species, which was brought to extinction at the hands of man, just a few decades later. “

Surprisingly, man has not learn from this, and we are struggling with an unprecedented extinction crisis with parrot species severely affected.

Dr. Salaman then went out to discuss the future for two critically endangered parrots in Columbia, the Yellow-eared Parrot, and the Fuertes Parrot. He explained how three key strategies have greatly assisted the conservation of threatened parrots in Columbia:
(a) strategic land protection through property acquisitions and private reserve networks; (b) artificial nest boxes to assist reproductive success and increase populations; and (c) large scale conservation campaigns. Both the Fuertes and Yellow-eared Parrot’s conservation status has improved significantly, since the above was enacted in Columbia.
Other keynote conservation speakers included Greg Matuzak, A. Bennett Hennessey, Dr. N. J. Collar, Joao M. Cabral, Peter Widmann, and Mark Ziembicki.

There was much to learn from all of the speakers, and a wealth of knowledge to be shared. As for me, the story of the demise of the Carolina Parakeet will stay in my heart forever, as a driving symbol to “make a difference” in the lives of parrots, before more one species becomes only a heartbreaking tale of once was.
Sponsor a Wild Parrot Program

by Mandy Andrea, Indonesian Parrot Project Board Member

The cockatoos fly to the far end of the aviary as we approach. They eye us warily. One taps its foot and flaps back and forth between two perches, clearly agitated by our presence. They are doing what they are supposed to do. Confiscated by the Indonesian authorities after they were illegally trapped from their rainforest homes, they still retain their wildness and fear of humans. After months of care and medical attention at Kembali Bebas (KB), IPP’s avian rehabilitation center on Seram, the cockatoos in this aviary are almost ready for the eagerly awaited release back into the wild.

Their bright eyes, alertness, and bobbing salmon crests show no trace of the conditions in which they first arrived. The trapping experience takes a terrible toll on many of them. Tangled in fish wire, crammed several at a time in small cages, or immobilized in plastic tubes, many sustain injuries, such as broken wings, legs, or scratched eyes, as well as severe psychological stress. By the time they arrive at Kembali Bebas, these birds are weak, starving and dehydrated, traumatized, and sometimes near death.

How can someone outside Seram help such a broken bird in dire need of compassion? Can someone be closely involved in rehabilitating endangered wild birds, help bring them back to their original vigor and magnificence without being on the ground at KB? And then can one follow their progress—be informed of their rehabilitation and care?

Well yes, you can! KB is currently home to over 100 birds including cockatoos, Eclectus, and lories. When you become a member of the “Sponsor a Wild Parrot” program, you will receive a quarterly e-newsletter describing recent events, including new acquisitions, progress of birds, and the transfer of birds when they are ready for the larger social cages. You will also be notified of the event of their release back into the wild or placement at the KB Sanctuary for those not endemic to Seram (which therefore can’t be released there) or those which have sustained major injuries. Each newsletter will feature information about a different Indonesian specie residing at the center along with photographs.

Choose to fund care for one month, three months, or a full year for your choice of bird specie residing at KB. The current residents include Eclectus, Cockatoo (Moluccan, Umbrella, Citron-crested, Lesser Sulfur-crested, Eleonora, or Triton), Lory (Violet-naped, Moluccan Red, Blue-streaked, Black- capped, or Chattering), or Lorikeet (Green-naped or “Rainbow”).

To sponsor a Cockatoo it costs $30 a month or $360 per year, an Eclectus or other parrot is $20 a month or $240 per year, or a Lory or Lorikeet is $15 a month or $180 per year.

Please note: Because these are wild animals, the birds are not assigned names, and no single specific bird can be “adopted” or assigned to a particular sponsor.

Alternatively, you can fund the cost of individual items like cages and flights. People who donate a permanent structure (cage or flight) will receive a photograph of their cage or flight with a plaque of acknowledgment on it. For pricing for the various cages and flights, please click on the link at the bottom of this newsletter called “Sponsor a Wild Parrot.”

This is an exciting opportunity for your bird club, society, or internet list to make a huge difference in these birds’ very lives by sponsoring perhaps a specie for a year or by donating a new cage. Please become a member of this new program by sending your check along with your name and e-mail address to “Sponsor a Wild Parrot”, P.O. Box 1500, Amagansett, NY 11930. In the near future we will be making it possible to participate in this program though Paypal or use of a credit card.


Parrot Festival in Houston

For those of you going to visit Parrot Festival this upcoming January 2007—you will be treated to some great presentations, nice people and alot of fun. We’re proud to announce that Stewart Metz and Bonnie Zimmermann will be on the panel, “Wild at Heart, Wild at Home” which will be presented on the first day of the festival.

Then Bonnie will be one of a very select group of speakers and will give a talk entitled:

“Born to be Wild—The Parrots of Indonesia”

Indonesia is home to many endangered cockatoos, parrots, and lories. At this meeting, Bonnie Zimmermann, the Associate Director of The Indonesian Parrot Project will share their newest findings from the field about these wonderful parrots and what their lives are like in the wild. Featured birds will include the Seram (Moluccan) Cockatoo, Palm Cockatoo, Eclectus Parrot, and Great-billed Parrot.

This will be followed by an update on the progress of the overall project which includes photos and video footage from the Kembali Bebas (Indonesian for “Return to Freedom”), Rescue, Rehabilitation, Sanctuary and Release Center on the island of Seram, in the Province of Maluku ( “The Moluccas”). In three short years, the Indonesian Parrot Project has grown dramatically and in March of 2006 released three Seram cockatoos back into the wild.

Our Scientific Advisor, Dr. Donald Brightsmith will also be presenting — and if you’re lucky might catch him at our Parrot Project Booth.


Report from the 2006 Eco Tour—Indonesia Shares Her Treasures

by Stewart Metz, Director, Indonesian Parrot Project

It’s difficult to put on paper the feelings I am left with after our ecotours of 2006—back-to-back trips to Ambon and Seram, followed by three islands (Waigeo, Batanta and Gam) off the coast of West Papua. First, one can’t put into words how much fun it was to have such a great group of guests—now friends for life. Although our international flights at the outset of the trip were disrupted, everyone smiled through the inconvenience and thereafter we were rewarded with the best weather ever in Indonesia: sunny skies, virtually no rain, low humidity, few bugs, even cool temperatures at times. And the local people, as always, enchanted us with their warmth, generosity, and welcoming friendship. Something like that you have to experience; you can’t describe it in words. On this trip, we increased our emphasis on other aspects of visiting Indonesia—cultural and historical aspects, while fitting in some spectacular snorkeling.

Of course, we spent some time with the birds at the Kembali Bebas Rehabilitation and Release Center just at the edge of Masihulan National Park on Seram. And the wild birds— wow! I had my most memorable sighting ever of a Seram cockatoo while squatting from before daybreak at the base of a tall tree, Kevin Sharp, Imy Mason-Brown (from the UK), Mandy Andrea and I got to watch a male cockatoo land at a nesthole, inspect and re-model it, and then hear him (just out of eyesight) battle off, first, a hornbill, and then, an Eclectus.

We had prolonged symphonies on the trip of Seram cockatoos (2-4 pairs, from perhaps 50-100 yards away) with a panoply of interactive sounds that was truly incredible. We had 5 significant sightings of Seram cockatoos. In Papua, we lost track of the number of sightings of (the both awesome and charming) Palm cockatoos (goliath subspecies). The most astonishing sighting, perhaps, was a Kakatua Raja (King cockatoo in the Indonesian vernacular) walking down the beach; but before we could photograph this astonishing scene, the one-in-a- million odds scene was rendered more incredible by the presence of a stray dog in nearly the same spot—who chased the cockatoo away.

Eclectus parrots were everyway, flying into sunshine like luminescent jewels, and we saw hundred of Great-billed parrots landing at their roosting site. Throw in brilliant Red lories streaking in contrast against the green foliage, flying lizards, and giant fruit bats (to name just a few) and I think you’d have a taste of the Indonesian treasures we sampled on this year’s trips.


Eco Expeditions Benefit Everyone!

by Bonnie Zimmermann, Eco Tour Director, Indonesian Parrot Project

Hi Team! We’re just barely back from this years trip, and we’re already planning our schedule for 2007! Participating in an eco tour that gives back to the community is a really great way to help the birds, the people and feel good about yourself.
I’ll fill you in on our upcoming schedule as well as a couple of other trips that you may want to take.

We will be doing two trips this year—Spirit of Seram Expedition (to Maluku) in early August 2007 and—our Paradise Expedition (to West Papua) in October 2007. We should have dates, pricing, and itineraries ready in the next few weeks. If you’re interested please let me know asap as these trips fill up pretty quickly.

Project Guyana is another fantastic trip and offers guests to see macaws, amazons and other birds in relative comfort. The Project has made some amazing accomplishments and is a great one to support. Their link is below.

Casa del Caballo Blanco is a new eco-tourism lodge in San Ignacio, Belize. I have offered to lead a birding/archeological eco tour that will be in February of 2007. They are new on the scene and are very passionate about protecting parrots and setting up a sanctuary as well. Check them out at their link. Or if you have additional questions email me at the address below.

So the next time you are considering buying a companion parrot to the tune of several thousand dollars, instead—put that money to good use and don’t encourage the pet trade —go to the rainforests of the world and see these special creatures in the wild. It will change you forever!

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