The Wild Magical Parrots of Peru

Our 2016 ecotour took us back to the beautiful rainforest of Peru along the Tambopata River, and time with one of our favorite conservation and research scientists, Dr. Donald Brightsmith. Seeing parrots in the wild always leaves me with mixed feelings – to see birds flying, interacting and responding to their native environment is majestic and overwhelmingly beautiful. On the other hand, I feel so frustrated by the limitations placed on the captive parrots in our homes. No matter how much space, enrichment and opportunity we give them, it just doesn’t compare. However, after viewing the antics and busyness of wild parrots, we can’t help but be inspired to do more for the birds in our homes.

Here are some photos and movies from our trip. I hope these give you some new ideas about how to make life better for your parrot.

Thanks to the group that joined us for this trip, we were able to make a donation of $3,750 to Dr. Brightsmith for his work at the Macaw Project at the Tambopata Research Center. It’s important that we help conserve areas where wild parrots can thrive, and also learn as much as possible about their way of life. Please help support conservation and research for wild parrots! We also hope you’ll join us on a future ecotour, we will be planning another one soon.

This video includes mealy Amazons, blue headed pionus and severe macaws at the Chuncho claylick: youtu.be/WOvbU8MlO3E.

Here is a video of a greenwing macaw and a blue and gold macaw having a “discussion.” They hang from the branch and hold each other’s feet.https://youtu.be/996f2oSPaHw. Thanks to Angie Yeung from Celltei.com for this amazing video!

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Blue headed pionus parrots

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Greenwing and scarlet macaws at the Chunco claylick along the Tambopata River

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Greenwing, scarlet and blue and gold macaws at the claylick

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Two blue and gold macaws.  What might they be discussing?

Kraft Paper Rules!

By Jenny Drummey

Newspaper is the recommended substrate for your parrot’s cage. Please don’t use cedar chips, sawdust or other dusty junk that can harbor bacteria and fungus and cause problems for parrots such as aspergillosis or other lung issues. While it’s cheap or free and does the job, newspapers are becoming harder to find as news goes digital. I have recently come to embrace kraft paper wholeheartedly as a newspaper substitute with great results.

Kraft paper is made by a machine out of wood pulp and comes in rolls in standard widths with different lengths. I measured my cages and found that a 30 inch wide roll would work for all of them. I purchased a roll and a paper cutter and have not turned back.

Kraft paper makes clean up easy and quick. While most cage bottoms require multiple sheets of newspaper, kraft paper can be torn to fit the cage bottom. The fiddly bits don’t slide between the multiple pages and can be easily collected in one piece for cleanup. Kraft paper can also be cut in a continuous sheet to extend up the cage sides to catch more tossed food, toy pieces and poop.

It’s quicker to tear off kraft paper than unfold page after page of newspaper. Plus, no newspaper means no newsprint which can stain your hands and your bird’s feathers.

Kraft paper is sturdier than newspaper, so it doesn’t move as much as newspaper does when a bird takes off.  It can be used under newspaper for extra protection under your parrot’s typical “morning poop” spot. I find its consistent look more attractive too.

It makes poop monitoring easier. Droppings stand out on the plain brown background and there’s no guess work as there might be if your bird poops on a colorful photo or ad. It’s a little less absorbent than newspaper too, so the amount of urine in each dropping is visible longer, which is helpful when evaluating the amount of urine (the clear stuff), urates (the white stuff) and feces (the green, worm shaped stuff).  

Additionally, kraft paper can be used for other things: To wrap packages, to make covers for kids’ schoolbooks, or to cover work surfaces, table tops, or floors. It’s tough and tear resistant. Basically, anywhere you need quick clean up, kraft paper is ready to serve!

kevins-rollsNow for the only (but biggest!) drawback: the price. The paper cutter (measured to fit the roll) cost $43. My 30 inch roll is 640 feet long and cost under $40. After using it for two months I am nowhere near the end. I have four birds, and one of my cages is a double cage, so I am using it for essentially five cages, plus under trees and play stands. I change papers every day. My guess is that the roll with last another 2-3 months, so my cost is roughly $10 per month. And, yes, that’s a lot of money. However, home delivery of the Washington Post is $15 for 4 weeks, so there’s no doubt that kraft paper is the more economical method for me. And if you have fewer birds or smaller cages, you will use much less paper then I do.

Small rolls of kraft paper can be purchased at dollar stores. Test it with your flock to see if this awesome option is right for you.