Parakeet Paradise – release date coming up!

19 06 2010

We often receive small green birds that everyone (well, almost) refers to as parrots. They are little and green. Some have red spots on their heads, some have brown necks. They are actually parakeets.

Crimson Fronted Parakeets and Alex the Volunteer

The ones with the red head are crimson fronted parakeets and the brown-faced ones are brown throated parakeets. When we get them we often cannot tell which is which. Why? Because they are painted, or, more often, bleached. Sometimes bleach is painted onto their heads, other times they are entirely dipped in clorox. They often have respiratory problems and die within a week of arriving but those who survive turn green again and their clipped wings and tails, if not clipped too badly, grow back. They are pretty common in Panama, every few days we get flocks flying over the property, stopping in the trees and making a complete racket. They are also pretty cute and not too hard to care for. So why do we get them in? Well, people buy them off the street and are told they are some other bird. Yellow Amazons, or some rare bird no one has found before. People buy them for 25 bucks and then, a week later, realize their mistake when the green feathers start reappearing. If they survive, that is. Other times we have received these “parrots” with the complaint “They told me it would talk and it says nothing!” or “He bites me!” Well, dear pet owners, sometimes pets bite. And in terms of talking, I have no idea if these birds have the ability to talk or not, but if you really want someone to chat with, try a human.

Crimson fronted parakeets in their former enclosure

Recently we had five crimson fronted parakeets that had been here over a year. They had completely healed, all their feathers were normal colored again, their wings and tails had grown back in. They were in a mid-sized enclosure toward the back of the property which had, in the past, also hosted tamarins. They seemed ready to release. I mean they were healthy, able to fly, why not? We couldn’t find much information about releasing these types of birds in Panama, but they are everywhere, they ought to be able to just join up with the next flock that passes by, right?

We debated for a few weeks and finally decided. We would release them into the aviary. The aviary is full of healthy birds. They are all native to the area. They are all here because either they were injured in the wild or bred as a part of a conservation program. In the aviary they have nests, breed more,are protected from predators and feed birdseed and fruit. And then, about once a year, we open the doors to the aviary and let them out. If they want out. Some stay. Often pigeons get it. We spend the whole year netting and removing pigeons from the aviary.

Jen in the aviary, paradise gardens wildlife rescue, boquete, panama

In the aviary... perfect place for healed and healthy birds!

But for these parakeets, the aviary turned out to be the perfect intermediate place between rescue and release. We took them in a kennel into the aviary and opened the door. They climbed out using their beaks and feet. They stood on their kennel, clung to its door, waited. Finally one flew up and landed on one of the lower branches. Three more followed a few seconds later. But one of them didn’t want to leave his (or her?) kennel. Finally, with Jen saying “Go, go!” he flew off.

Releasing the parakeets... at first they all clung to the kennel

The last parakeet to leave. Jen tells him: Go, go! You're a bird, silly, fly!

They were all shaky on their first flight. And they clung to the trees, loudly squawking at one another. But only a few hours later we checked again and they were looking much more comfortable on their wings, and on the high-up branches. Sometime we will leave the aviary doors open, and if they are ready, they will be able to fly away and join one of the huge flocks that passes through here regularly.

Crimson fronted parakeet getting used to his new home, in the trees!

High up in their new home here at Paradise Gardens Wildlife Rescue

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