Amigos de Las Aves (Costa Rica)

With their brilliant feathers of red, yellow and blue, the scarlet macaw was once prolific throughout the Caribbean and Pacific lowlands of Costa Rica. By the 1950s, due to habitat destruction, poaching for feathers and trapping for the pet industry, populations were reduced to three groups of approximately a thousand individuals and placed on CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) Appendix I, which includes all species threatened with extinction. Amigos de las Aves, or Friends of the Birds, was established to bring these glorious birds back into the skies.

Their mission is to rescue scarlet macaws, as well as other parrots, by offering refuge, rehabilitation, breeding, release and education - and their efforts have soared. The facility is located on a property called Flor de Mayo and is situated just outside the town of Alajuela. The lush surroundings are a paradise for wildlife, filled with orchids, bromeliads, heliconias, gingers and other exotic tropical vegetation.

Across the road lie eight acres of agricultural land with breeding aviaries, bird nurseries, juvenile and main flight enclosures, as well as the farm for the project and housing for staff and volunteers. When injured birds or chicks are discovered, they are brought to this facility and the work begins. These chicks, or the ones hatched on site, are raised in the nurseries, fed and cared for until they are able to enter junior flight enclosures. After graduating to the main flight enclosures, they are taken to various locations in Costa Rica chosen for their abundant food supply and nesting sites. Birds spend time in a release aviary, learning how to find food and shelter. Finally, they are released into the skies.

Once released, the birds are tracked and monitored. This data helps the program improve and offers insight into scarlet macaw behaviors, such as social structure and pair bonding. Birds taken from the wild by poachers and confiscated by government agencies are kept and cared for in the refuge center, where they can live their lives comfortably and happily.

Finally, Amigos de las Aves raises awareness of conservation issues within the local communities and schools. They are truly a full-service operation. What the Oakland Zoo does: We donate funds, provide materials, raise awareness and lend staff expertise.

What you can do:

  • Volunteer at Amigos de las Aves.
  • Do not buy exotic birds as pets unless you have researched their needs.
  • If you are in the position to care for a parrot, adopt from an established rescue agency.

For more information visit www.hatchedtoflyfree.org

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