Sunrise from porch of Hato Nuevo Reserve (photo by Andrea Grosse)
There was good news last month for the macaws of Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica as representatives from all three countries gathered on October 30, 2013 for the first meeting of the newly forming “Lapa Grupo de Trabajo – Red Trinacional.” (Macaw Working Group – Trinational Network). We met at the ecoreserve, Hato Nuevo, and were superbly hosted by Don Marino and his staff. The workshop was sponsored by Paso Pacifico and Lafeber Conservation. Thanks to Martin Lezama for helping to organize the majority of this workshop!
Presentations on porch of Hato Nuevo (photo my Milton Salazar)
LoraKim describing feather changes as a possible sign of malnutrition.
While taking in the wonderful views from the reserve’s porch, we listened, learned, and discussed so that we could support one another’s efforts in each country, as well as come up with a regional plan. Conservation projects that interact, network, and plan with a broad diversity of other groups have the most success, and that is what we are going for in this area: success for the two species of macaws found here, the Central American scarlet macaw and the great green macaw. Both species are struggling within their range.
Workshop participants showing their “Fly Free Scarlet Macaw” bracelets.
Hiking trail at Hato Nuevo (we weren’t born only for ourselves).
After the workshop we took to the trails around the reserve, and were glad for the early dinner and bed time as we would get on the road at 3 a.m. the next morning so that we could go observe the scarlet macaws of Coseguina. Our hosts for this day are the three biologists who have begun to monitor the macaw population here – Jose Martin Vallecillo, Orlando Jarquin, and Milton Salazar. We are accompanied by the macaw biologists from Costa Rica, Ulises Alemán and Raquel Gomez.
Early morning cheer as we ride to Coseguina in search of macaws (Andrea Grosse, Raquel Gomez, Martin Vallecillo,Orlando Jarquin)
Winding around the peninsula formed by the Coseguina Volcano, we pass villages that surround the volcano. Though it is dark, the smells and sounds tell us that the people here are primarily fisherpeople and cattle ranchers, and also work the fields of small and some impressively large farms.
Fisher people leaving village Santa Julia to go out into Gulf of Fonseca near the Cosequina volcano.
We get to the base of the volcano a little after sunrise and begin our walk up. Not soon after we reach the part of the trail where the canopy clears for a view, those ahead of me on the trail begin to shout and squeal. A pair of macaws is flying down the canyon! This is the third time a pair has been seen from this vantage point.
Scarlet macaws seen by many at Coseguina volcano (photo by Orlando Jarquin)
Though we remain vigilant for the rest of the morning, we see no more macaws. We do see and hear the occasional yellow-naped amazon, parakeets, and other species. Most of our time and focus is on learning about the community, and the resources each of us might have to contribute to this very small population of macaws. Thought to be made up of 8 pairs of adults, we have to suspect that there are not enough birds for a viable and sustainable flock. This doesn’t phase the Nicaraguans, for they know that this area is an important area, for this is the last group of naturally occurring macaws on the pacific slope of Central America. Once they go, that’s it. The macaws are indeed in hot water.
Remaining vigilant for macaws
Oddly, is from where our hopes come, for Coseguina in an earlier people’s language means “hot water.” Birds being here after all the ravishes of habitat loss and poaching for the pet trade is a pathway for hope. Because they are here, we must try, no matter the odds against success. As long as there are birds here, we don’t have to start at ground zero.
Entrance to Coseguina Volcano Natural Reserve
Coseguina was once a ground zero. In 1835 the volcano violently erupted, killing people and animals for miles around. The forests were leveled. The impacts were felt on a global level as well. The ash from the plume impacted the climate and the earth’s temperature dropped .75 degrees C. We are determined that here there will not be another ground zero.
There is hope not only in the birds being here, but also in the people involved. The trio desires strongly to work here, and I believe will do so. They just need a little support to fuel their dreams as they apply their wisdom and experience into keeping macaws not just on the planet, but in this community.
Passionate trio of biologists working for the Coseguina macaws (Milton Salazar, Orlando Jarquin, Martin Vallecillo)
I asked them what their dreams were for this project. What did they deeply long for? Martin, a native of nearby Potosi, gave a most auspicious response, “I just want my community to learn to care for the macaws.” His phrase signals truly understanding the complex approach to conservation necessary for success – saving a species can’t be done without the collaboration of the local community.
Visionary Martin Vallecillo (photo by Andrea Grosse)
The response also rung so very true for me. I so want my community to care for macaws: my veterinary colleagues, my faith denomination, my local neighbors, and people with companion birds in their homes no matter where they live. I long for company and the support that comes from a sense of shared reality with my peers. We who go out in the dark to see the sun rise behind the flash of fiery red feathers do not want to go it alone. Won’t you come with us?
Lafeber Conservation seeks to support the Coseguina Macaws in the coming year and One Earth Conservation and Ministry will be grateful to receive you donations on their behalf.
To donate, go to the Pay Pal button on this website or write a check out in the name of Parrot’s International, and mail to:
Care of: One Earth Conservation, Dr. Joyner
466 Rosedale Avenue
White Plains, NY 10605