Companion Macawan ambassador to the wild

Parrot Life

June 2, 2011 Blog, Conservation, Avian Community

Companionship, Health, Behavior, Aviculture, & Conservation

Companion-an-ambassador-to-the-wild smallHave you ever noticed the sub title of Parrot Life Magazine? While the official magazine of HARI remains popular with the companion bird “spoke” of the avian community, we wanted to expand a little bit on the true meaning of the words : Companionship – Health – Behavior – Aviculture – Conservation.

Some of the” Spokes of the Avian Community”

Whether you’re a companion bird owner, an aviculturist, or conservationist, the common love and respect for the parrot is so tightly entwined…much as stated by the theme for the 7th Annual Parrots International Symposium in Miami, Florida June 2-3rd. “One World For Parrots: Conservation, Aviculture, Companion”

Companionship, Conservation, Aviculture – none exist without each other and we don’t exist without all of them!

As Mark Hagen, director of HARI, prepares his HARI Presentation for this conference, the theme for Parrots International, very much like the sub title of Parrot Life Magazine, helps to bridge the gap between the “spokes” that make up the wheel of the avian community.

Jack HARI ambassador to the gray wolfLet’s face it, many folks have pets. And of those pet loving folks, many have a pet dog. Of those people that have dogs, how many are concerned about the welfare of a gray wolf? After all, the companion or domestic dog that dominates today’s pet industry is a descendant of the gray wolf. Not a whole lot when we consider the number of pet dogs! This is somewhat understandable. Our companion dog today, regardless of breed, is over 15,000 years removed from his wild counterpart.

So what does conservation, aviculture, and the companion bird communities have in common and why is it so important that these spokes maintain a close relationship?

In a nutshell, it’s a constant evolution and a very synergistic relationship. While it is widely documented that Man has had a close relationship with the pet parrot as early as 400 BC, there is still so much we learn about our modern world when we take a look at parrots in our homes or in the wild. Our feathered companions, especially if they’re fairly young, are possibly only a generation or two from its wild counterpart. With the lifespan of some parrot species, many wild caught parrots are amongst the companion or aviary populations. Some of the behavior challenges that plague the companion birds can be attributed to a stifling or better explain, a lack of understanding of parrot’s innate behaviors derived from living in the wild. How about nutrition for companion birds? In the 1980’s, HARI director, Mark Hagen studied the caloric metabolism of a nesting pair of Scarlet macaws’ diet in the wild in comparison to that of captive parrots to determine the needs of a companion parrot’s caloric energy needs. This information was the corner stone in the development of HARI approved Tropican. What if these parrots were not there?

Mark-HagenLet’s switch to captive breeding populations of parrots. Look at the plight of the Spix’s macaw (Cyanopsitta spixii.) While there are many parrot species that are considered critically endangered, the Spix’s macaw is the probably amongst the most well known in the avian community. It is believed the last known Spix’s macaw disappeared in the wild in 2000. What caused this? Some would say it was greedy collectors for the illegal captive parrot market. Some would say the destruction of environment due to over development of lands for cattle grazing and the need to fulfill man’s progress in the world that outsourced the trees and food sources for this little blue parrot. A combination of all of these to be sure! Parrot populations in the wild are like the looking glass or microscope of how things are in an ecosystem. It is said that when a species goes extinct-it is quite possible that at least 10,000 living things go with it…trees, plants, insects and more! We’re in a bit of a quandary with global warming….

The work and unity of concerned avicultural facilities such as Loro Parque Foundation and Al Wabra Preservation , to name a few, have been of great importance in rebuilding populations of the Spix’s macaw with captive breeding practices. While production in captive breeding programs have brought the world population to over 70, the current population is not sufficient enough to repopulate the wild bird numbers-but it’s better than zero! More studies on the behalf of the conversationalist communities is necessary is required to understand the demise in the Spix’s wild habitat. Meanwhile, captive populations of this species needs to be responsibly maintained and remain fruitful and healthy. Success of this species is in the hands of professionals that have committed to years of dedicated aviary management.

While these are only brief examples of how the spokes come together, we at HARI celebrate the endeavors of all them and we hope you do!

Melanie Allen

About Melanie Allen

Melanie got her start with Parrots in the 1980's with her first parrot, a purchased yellow-naped amazon - who suffered from chronic health issues that stemmed from poor nutrition and inadequate care. Today, she works closely with aviculturists, retailers, and pet owners as the avian product specialist for Rolf C. Hagen (USA) Corp. & HARI. Melanie also serves as president of Florida Federation of Aviculture, Inc., as a Board Member for National Parrot Rescue & Preservation Foundation, and on the American Federation of Aviculture Nomination Committee.

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