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Thu Apr 30, 2020, 12:51 AM

How the Stunning Scarlet Macaw Came Back From the Brink

The bird, decimated by poachers and smugglers, is making a big comeback in the Central American rainforest



Honduran scarlet macaws. (Daniel Sierra)

By Jordan Salama
SMITHSONIANMAG.COM
APRIL 28, 2020

It began one night in 2001. The chartered plane landed on a dusty airstrip in Guatemala, just across the border from Honduras. Under the cover of darkness, its cargo was unloaded and shuttled from one country to another. And then, just as quickly as it landed, the plane was gone.

“Looking back, it was definitely illegal,” says Lloyd Davidson, the American biologist who directed the operation. But what sounds like some illicit trafficking scheme was the first step in what would become a decades-long effort to conserve one of Central America’s most cherished species: the guacamaya roja, or scarlet macaw (Ara macao).

The scarlet macaw is the national bird of Honduras, a large and majestic creature easily recognizable by its lively red, blue and yellow coat. But the species’ magnificence has helped contribute to its demise in the wild. Coveted as pets, macaws have seen their populations decimated in recent years by the illegal wildlife trade. Poachers snatch eggs and chicks from wild nests, clip the wings and smuggle birds not only within Honduras but also to Europe, the United States and Caribbean islands.

On that night nearly two decades ago, though, Davidson began to fight back. He flew 90 live macaws, all of them rescues from captivity, into an airfield on the wrong side of the border because it was the closest landing spot to their new home. Davidson had purchased a plot of land in the Honduran tourist town of Copán Ruinas, home to a Unesco World Heritage Site dedicated to preserving a lost Mayan city in the Sacred Valley of the Guacamayas. Today, that plot of land nestled along a creek in the hills near the Honduras-Guatemala border is called Macaw Mountain. It is the first macaw rescue, release and rehabilitation center in the country, and it is where Davidson leads the charge to save this regal bird.



Scarlet macaws in flight (Tanya Martinez)

More:
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/scarlet-macaw-recovery-national-bird-honduras-180974740/

Also posted in Environment and energy:
https://www.democraticunderground.com/1127137563

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Reply How the Stunning Scarlet Macaw Came Back From the Brink (Original post)
Judi Lynn Apr 30 OP
msongs Apr 30 #1
Judi Lynn Apr 30 #2

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Thu Apr 30, 2020, 02:10 AM

1. great news. have met a few of these as pets and they are super smart nt

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Response to msongs (Reply #1)

Thu Apr 30, 2020, 05:04 AM

2. You are a lucky person to have seen even one of these feathered characters at close range. 🦜️

It would be a wonderful experience.

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