aviary love

I was in Bonaire, with the parrots, back in September/October. A while ago now. But I still have things to say and pictures to post. So bear with me… Here I want to show off the lovely parrot aviaries, and some of the work I did on them.

These are the lovely flight aviaries where parrots can move about freely, learn to fly if they never have (for example they may have been squished in a parrot cage prior to coming to ECHO). Some sadly will never fly due to road traffic accidents causing broken wings. They have lots of room to climb about. And climb about they do. Those that can fly have a good chance of being released in to the wild. Those that can’t get a luxury retirement (compared to their former lives), or better still they may get to bond with another parrot and produce baby parrots for a future reintroduction project.
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This is a smaller aviary, with even smaller aviaries within them. The teeny weeny aviaries, cages really, are to pop recent arrivals, injured, or sick parrots in to. Here they can be observed easily, are less likely to hurt themselves, and can be accessed easily if required. While I was there we had Camilla, a wild fledling with a broken wing. I had the pleasure of syringe feeding her three times per day. In one of these we also housed Toby (in the photo) for one week, an adult bird who was found walking around someone’s garden looking rather bedraggled and drunk. A mystery. But he soon improved, so I upgraded him to a slightly bigger aviary, where he did show signs of flight. Hopefully by now he has made it to the large flight aviary, and maybe has even been given the go ahead to be released.
Some of the big small aviaries also act as an overflow, if certain birds in the flight aviary are being picked on, or just don’t get along well with the others.
ECHO needs funds to build more aviaries. In particular breeding aviaries, where pairs that have bonded can be moved to, so making more space in the flight aviaries.
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During my first week, I was confronted with the remains of dead dove parts each morning. In the aviaries. All that remained were wing feathers, heads, and feet. We put a camera trap up and discovered the predator was a feral cat. The doves were creeping in through holes at ground level, to eat up all the parrot seeds on the ground. The cat was clearly creeping in after them, and feasting on them. I should think that most parrots are smart enough to look after themselves, but most of these parrots could not fly, so … In the hot humid conditions, I collected, and carried every rock that I could find, filling in every hole, and some. I built a wee wall of rocks around the perimeter. It did need to be maintained though, as scurrying lizards had the habit of dislodging my neatly stacked rocks.
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On one side of the flight aviaries was an open area where we would take leaves and vegetation to dump and scatter. With the hope that when the rainy season came, it would turn to mulch and produce a good base for trees to grow. Eventually looking like proper parrot habitat. My problem was, that each day a breeze would blow all the dry leaves in to the aviaries, making it look messy and harbouring parrot poo and left over food. So on my very last day, I found some suitable palm leaves, cut them down to shape and fixed them along the bottom to act as leaf barriers. I hope it worked!
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About Olivia N Masi

From art college drop-out, to office space-planner, to back-packer, to air stewardess, to brolly babe, to model agent, to wildlife conservationist. How? I've always believed in jumping at every opportunity that comes my way. This has taken me along some bizarre career paths. None of which I regret. I have been to amazing places and met fascinating people. And having worked in the motor sport industry I've sadly experienced too many beloved friends take one adrenalin step too many. I think of them always. I've hung out with pop-stars, sports personalities, and millionaires. I reached a point when nothing but VIP would do. And then something happened. My pops passed away and I felt the need to reconnect with my Italian side. Whilst in Italy, I learnt to be resourceful, to recycle everything, to listen to the valley, to grow my own veg, to catch and tame feral cats, and to follow my heart. My heart led me to a desire to save this beautiful Earth, and all the wonderful life upon it. And so I read, and then I studied with the Open University. I suddenly found myself accepted on a BSc in Wildlife Conservation, having left school with pitiful qualifications. So here I am. A qualified Wildlife Conservationist. A scientist I suppose. I love nothing more than to listen to birdsong, and watch, learn and photograph wildlife. So here is to me getting the perfect job where I can contribute to saving one of Earth's beautiful species. Do I miss the glamour of the old life? The VIP lifestyle? The petrol-head adrenalin? The buzz of being a successful business owner? Only occasionally. Though it seems more like the distant dreams of a previous life.
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