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Agapornis roseicollis - Peach-faced lovebird (2) Alipiopsitta xanthops - Yellow-faced Parrot (1) Alisterus amboinensis - Moluccan King Parrot (1) Alisterus scapularis - Australian King Parrot (3) Amazona aestiva - Blue-fronted Amazon (12) Amazona agilis - Black-billed Parrot (4) Amazona albifrons - White-fronted Amazon (6) Amazona amazonica - Orange-winged Amazon (5) Amazona arausiaca - Red-necked Parrot (1) Amazona auropalliata - Yellow-naped amazon (3) Amazona autumnalis - Red-lored Amazon (8) Amazona barbadensis - Yellow-shouldered amazon (5) Amazona brasiliensis - Red-tailed Amazon (1) Amazona collaria - Yellow-billed Parrot (5) Amazona farinosa - Mealy Amazon (2) Amazona festiva - Festive Parrots (1) Amazona finschi - Lilac crowned Amazon (12) Amazona guildingii - St. Vincent Amazon (7) Amazona imperialis - Imperial Amazon (1) Amazona l. bahamensis - Bahama Parrot (5) Amazona l. caymanensis - Grand Cayman Parrot (5) Amazona l. hesterna - Cayman Brac Parrot (5) Amazona lilacina - Ecuador Amazon (4) Amazona ochrocephala - Yellow-crowned Amazon (3) Amazona oratrix - Yellow-headed Amazon (21) Amazona rhodocorytha - Red-browed Amazon (2) Amazona tucumana - Tucumán Amazon (1) Amazona ventralis - Hispaniola Parrots (3) Amazona versicolor - Saint Lucia Amazon (1) Amazona vinacea - Vinaceous-breasted Amazon (3) Amazona viridigenalis - Red-crowned Amazon (30) Amazona vittata - Puerto Rican Amazon (16) Amazona xantholora - Yellow-lored Amazon (1) Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus - Hyacinth Macaw (5) Anodorhynchus leari - Lear's Macaw (3) Ara ambiguus - Great Green Macaw (8) Ara ararauna - Blue-and-Gold Macaw (30) Ara ararauna - Blue-and-Gold Macaw (12) Ara chloropterus- Green-winged macaw (12) Ara glaucogularis - Blue-throated Macaw (9) Ara macao - Scarlet Macaw (38) Ara militaris - Military Macaw (7) Ara rubrogenys - Red-fronted macaw (1) Aratinga acuticaudata - Blue-crowned Parakeet (4) Aratinga auricapillus - Gold-capped conure (1) Aratinga canicularis - Orange-fronted Parakeet (6) Aratinga erythrogenys - Red-masked Parakeet (14) Aratinga holochlora - Green Parakeet (7) Aratinga jandaya - Jenday conure (3) Aratinga leucophthalma - White-eyed Parakeet (1) Aratinga mitrata -Mitred Parakeet (14) Aratinga nana - Olive-throated Parakeet (1) Aratinga pertinax - Brown-throated Parakeet (1) Aratinga solstitialis - Sun Conure (2) Aratinga strenua - Pacific Parakeet (1) Aratinga wagleri - Scarlet-fronted Parakeet (1) Barnardius zonarius - Australian Ringneck (1) Bolborhynchus lineola - Barred Parakeet (1) Brotogeris chiriri - Yellow-chevroned parakeet (3) Brotogeris jugularis - Orange-chinned Parakeet (2) Brotogeris pyrrhoptera - Grey-cheeked Parakeet (2) Brotogeris versicolurus - White-winged Parakeet (1) Cacatua alba - Umbrella Cockatoo (8) Cacatua ducorpsii - Solomons Cockatoo (1) Cacatua galerita - Sulphur-crested Cockatoo (50) Cacatua goffiniana - Tanimbar Corella (8) Cacatua haematuropygia - Philippine Cockatoo (8) Cacatua leadbeateri - Major Mitchell's Cockatoo (4) Cacatua moluccensis - Salmon-crested Cockatoo (10) Cacatua ophthalmica - Blue-eyed Cockatoo (1) Cacatua p. pastinator - Muir's Corella (6) Cacatua pastinator - Western Corella (5) Cacatua sanguinea - Little Corella (42) Cacatua sulphurea - Lesser Sulphur Crested Cockatoo (12) Cacatua tenuirostris - Long-billed Corella (10) Callocephalon fimbriatum - Gang-gang Cockatoo (10) Calyptorhynchus banksii - Red-tailed Black Cockatoo (53) Calyptorhynchus baudinii - Baudin Cockatoo (37) Calyptorhynchus funereus - Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo (13) Calyptorhynchus lathami - Glossy Black Cockatoo (18) Calyptorhynchus latirostris - Carnaby's Cockatoo (97) Chalcopsitta cardinalis - Cardinal Lory (1) Charmosyna amabilis - Red-throated Lorikeet (1) Charmosyna diadema - Caledonian lorikeet (1) Charmosyna placentis - Red-flanked lorikeet (1) Conuropsis carolinensis - Carolina Parakeet (5) Coracopsis n. barklyi - Seychelles Black Parrot (2) Cyanoliseus patagonus - Burrowing Parrot (5) Cyanopsitta spixii - Spix's Macaw (10) Cyanoramphus auriceps - Yellow-crowned Kakariki (2) Cyanoramphus cookii - Norfolk Parakeet (1) Cyanoramphus malherbi - Orange-fronted parakeet (12) Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae - Red-crowned Kakariki (16) Cyanoramphus ulietanus - Society parakeet (1) Cyanoramphus unicolor - Antipodes Island Parakeet (3) Cyanoramphus zealandicus - Black-fronted parakeets (1) Deroptyus accipitrinus - Hawk-headed parrot (1) Diopsittaca nobilis - Red-shouldered macaw (1) Eclectus roratus - Eclectus Parrot (10) Enicognathus leptorhynchus - Slender-billed parakeet (1) Eolophus roseicapilla - Galah (19) Eos squamata - Violet-necked Lory (2) Eunymphicus uvaeensis - Ouvea parakeet (1) Forpus coelestis - Pacific Parrotlet (1) Forpus conspicillatus - Spectacled Parrotlet (1) Forpus cyanopygius - Mexican Parrotlet (1) Forpus passerinus - Green-rumped Parrotlet (2) Geoffroyus geoffroyi - Red-cheeked Parrot (1) Glossopsitta porphyrocephala - Purple-crowned Lorikeet (1) Graydidascalus brachyurus - Short-tailed Parrot (1) Guaruba guaruba - Golden conure (3) Hapalopsittaca fuertesi - Fuerte's parrot (2) Lathamus discolor - Swift Parrot (20) Leptosittaca branickii - Golden-plumed Parakeet (2) Loriculus vernalis - Vernal Hanging Parrot (1) Lorius chlorocercus - Yellow-bibbed Lory (1) Lorius domicella - Black-capped Lory (1) Lorius domicella - Purple-naped Lory (2) Lorius garrulus - Chattering Lory (5) Lorius lorry - black-capped Lories (1) Melopsittacus undulatus - Budgerigar (25) Micropsitta keiensis - Yellow-capped pygmy parrot (1) Micropsitta pusio - Buff-faced pygmy parrot (1) Myiopsitta monachus - Monk Parakeet (93) Nandayus nenday - Black-hooded Parakeet (4) Neophema chrysogaster - Orange-bellied Parrot (41) Neophema petrophila - Rock Parrot (1) Neophema pulchella - Turquoise parakeet (2) Nestor chathamensis - Chatham Islands parrot (1) Nestor meridionalis - Kaka (24) Nestor notabilis - Kea (50) Nestor productus - Norfolk Island Kaka (1) Northiella haematogaster - Blue bonnet Parrot (1) Nymphicus hollandicus - Cockatiel (7) Ognorhynchus icterotis - Yellow-eared Parrot (5) Orthopsittaca manilata - Red-bellied macaw (1) Pezoporus flaviventris - Western Ground Parrot (15) Pezoporus occidentalis - Night Parrot (10) Pezoporus wallicus - Eastern ground parrot (2) Pezoporus wallicus - Eastern ground parrot (1) Pionites melanocephalus - Black-headed Caique (1) Pionus menstruus - Blue-headed parrot (2) Pionus senilis - White-crowned Parrot (1) Platycercus elegans - Crimson Rosella (6) Platycercus eximius - Eastern Rosella (4) Poicephalus fuscicollis - Brown-necked Parrot (1) Poicephalus robustus - Cape Parrot (5) Poicephalus senegalus - Senegal Parrot (2) Polytelis alexandrae - Princess Parrot (4) Polytelis anthopeplus - Regent Parrot (8) Polytelis swainsonii- Superb Parrot (14) Primolius auricollis - Yellow-collared macaw (1) Probosciger aterrimus - Palm Cockatoo (4) Psephotus chrysopterygius - Golden-shouldered Parrot (3) Psittacara chloroptera - Hispaniolan parakeet (1) Psittacella brehmii - Brehm's Tiger-parrot (1) Psittacula alexandri - Red-breasted Parakeet (1) Psittacula columboides - Malabar Parakeet (1) Psittacula cyanocephala - Plum-headed Parakeet (5) Psittacula derbiana - Derbyan Parakeet (5) Psittacula echo - Mauritius parakeet (3) Psittacula eupatria - Alexandrine Parakeet (18) Psittacula eupatria - Alexandrine Parakeet (4) Psittacula finschii - Grey-headed Parakeet (1) Psittacula himalayana - Slaty-headed Parakeet (1) Psittacula krameri - Ring-necked Parakeet (57) Psittacus erithacus - African Grey Parrot (45) Psittacus erithacus - African Grey Parrot (26) Psittrichas fulgidus - Pesquet's Parrot (1) Pyrrhura albipectus - White-breasted Parakeet (1) Pyrrhura caeruleiceps - Perijá Parakeet (2) Pyrrhura griseipectus - Grey-breasted Parakeet (2) Pyrrhura molinae - Green-cheeked Conure (1) Pyrrhura orcesi - El Oro Parakeet (3) Rhynchopsitta pachyrhyncha - Thick-billed Parrot (9) Strigops habroptilus - Kakapo (84) Tanygnathus lucionensis - Blue-naped Parrot (4) Trichoglossus chlorolepidotus - Scaly-breasted Lorikeet (1) Trichoglossus rubritorquis - Red-collared Lorikeet (2) Trichoglosus haematodus - Rainbow Lorikeets (17) Vini kuhlii - Kuhl's Lorikeet (1)
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Thursday
Oct042012

The ARA Project needs your help to survive, Costa Rican Macaw depends on it

Young Scarlet Macaws being trained for release.Tucked away somewhere in Río Segundo in Alajuela, behind veiled chain link fencing and sporting nearly no signs is The Ara Project.

Between my unfamiliarity with the area and Tico-style directions it might have been easier just to roll down the window and listen. 200 macaws squawking carries a pretty long way…

Chris Castle opens the gate and I finally meet what was had been just a voice on the phone with a funny island accent (I couldn’t determine if Aussie or Kiwi). He’s upbeat, happy and thankful that someone (the gentlemen who hired me to take video) has taken an interest in the project. If you didn’t know better you might mistake Chris for a surfer. He’s tall, with piercing blue eyes, 3 days of stubble, an old t-shirt and blond dreadlocks. It takes less than five minutes of conversation to know that he’s no smoked out bum seduced by lazy afternoons in the sun and too much ‘pura vida.’ In fact he’s the accidental heir to the project after the original founders passed away.

His co-conspirator in conservation, Jenny Pettigrew, pops up a couple of minutes later, just as cheerful, though slightly less unkempt, and sporting the same accent: New Zealand we are informed. Both have degrees in biology from Kiwi Universities, and since there are no programs to study macaw husbandry anywhere I’m guessing that makes them some of the world experts on the subject.

They show us around the property and let us in the cages while explaining how they take care of the birds during the nearly year-long pre-release process, what they eat and where they finally release them. At one point as I’m filming, two young macaws begin playing with Chris’ hair (I nearly drop the camera when one decides to do the same to me) while he just keeps talking. He’s in his element, passionately so. He’s so passionate that he only takes 3 days off every 3 months in order to renew his tourist visa. Jenny does the same. They don’t make enough to apply for permanent residency despite doing this for years.

Over coffee and home-made chocolate muffins, Chris and Jenny explain how their social life revolves around the volunteers that come through (there’s never enough), that the money they make from tours to foreigners doesn’t even cover the costs of feeding the birds, never mind paying themselves properly (they have very supportive parents). They do have local support though. A prominent local family helps with funding while a Canadian woman helps find them furniture, second hand fridges and microwaves. Tico volunteers help regularly as well, one woman even cooks certain food for the birds over a fireplace on the farm.

So much self-sacrifice and dedication aren’t enough to overcome some of the problems they are facing. Their regular monthly funding will stop in March 2013 and the property that has been home to macaws for some 30 years is for sale (fortunately it’s overpriced). A hotel in Punta Islita, where they release birds, has donated land, but they need quite a bit of money to build the infrastructure for birds and humans. I guess the macaws have plenty of reason to squawk.

Maybe they just need someone to squawk and make some noise for them. If the foreign soccer players can get high-level meetings with immigration officials, surely these two should get their papers. I don’t know if the president has the power to grant citizenship for meritorious activity but at minimum I’m betting she can speed things along for residency. A little Internet shame goes a long way in a small country.

So here’s the deal, if you’re friends with an ambassador (or better yet you ARE an ambassador), have a sister-in-law in immigration, make their case known. Plus this presidency could use a win, this could be one.

We need to get more folks on board in general to help the macaw cause. As I mentioned there will be a fund-raising campaign featuring the video I took as well as an art contest called the Amistad Prize which is looking for sponsors (local artists depicting the effects of deforestation). I don’t have a ton of details on either but I will try to keep you all posted or you can stop by my website (see more pictures too!) or my Facebook and I will put you in touch. Thanks for helping if only by sharing this article.

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