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Parrots and the Perils of Tropical Nights

African Gray Parrot
As mentioned in my recent article on this blog, providing pet birds with access to sunlight and fresh air is of great value to their well-being. A pair of yellow-fronted Amazon parrots, Amazona ochrocephala, kept at a research station on Tortuguero Island, Costa Rica, where I worked some years ago, seemed a perfect example of this. They spent their days climbing in 2 small trees and over the ropes stretched between them (their flight feathers were clipped). Active and inquisitive, they were in the peak of health and color. A large cage, door opened, hung in one of the trees. For a time, the birds’ owner had tried to herd them into the cage for the night, but had given up in the face of their stubborn refusal to cooperate.

One morning, we awoke to the gruesome discovery of a small pile of blood-spattered feathers below the birds’ roosting site – all that remained of the male. Tortuguero is home to a number of creatures, including ocelots, Leopardus pardalis, great horned owls, Bubo virginianus, and the unusual Linneaus’ false vampire bat, Vampyrum spectrum, that would be more than happy to snack on a plump parrot. Apparently, the dog that usually slept below the roost had gone “off duty”, and a nocturnal predator had made the most of the lapse in security. On the very next evening, with only the slightest of prodding, the female walked over into her cage and perched quietly while the door was secured – and, I’m told, she has done so each night since!


About Frank Indiviglio

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I believe that I was born with an intense interest in animals, as neither I nor any of my family can recall a time when I was not fascinated by creatures large and small. One might imagine this to be an unfortunate set of circumstances for a person born and raised in the Bronx, but, in actuality, quite the opposite was true. Most importantly, my family encouraged both my interest and the extensive menagerie that sprung from it. My mother and grandmother somehow found ways to cope with the skunks, flying squirrels, octopus, caimans and countless other odd creatures that routinely arrived un-announced at our front door. Assisting in hand-feeding hatchling praying mantises and in eradicating hoards of mosquitoes (I once thought I had discovered “fresh-water brine shrimp” and stocked my tanks with thousands of mosquito larvae!) became second nature to them. My mother went on to become a serious naturalist, and has helped thousands learn about wildlife in her 16 years as a volunteer at the Bronx Zoo. My grandfather actively conspired in my zoo-buildings efforts, regularly appearing with chipmunks, boa constrictors, turtles rescued from the Fulton Fish Market and, especially, unusual marine creatures. It was his passion for seahorses that led me to write a book about them years later. Thank you very much, for a complete biography of my experience click here.
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