Animal Ambassadors for February: Our Parrots!

This month, our Zovargo animal ambassadors are our beautiful parrots: Baby Bird and Chico!

Baby Bird (left) and Chico (right) being fantastic ambassadors at a Zovargo Girl Scouts event

Baby Bird (left) and Chico (right) being fantastic ambassadors at a Zovargo Girl Scouts event

Red-Crowned Amazon: Baby Bird!

Baby Bird our Red-Crowned Amazon (so named for her beautiful Red crown feathers)

Baby Bird our Red-Crowned Amazon (so named for her beautiful Red crown feathers)

Firstly Baby Bird, she is our Red-crowned Amazon Parrot (Amazona viridigenalis) and she comes to lots of events with us so you may well have already met her! Red-crowned Amazons are primarily found in the wild in North Eastern Mexico, however there are some more, growing populations in Texas, Florida and California. Right here in San Diego County you can find a small population in Point Loma! It is well worth taking a trip to go and spot some of Baby Bird’s wild relatives up in the palm trees.

Baby Bird used to live in Point Loma in the wild as a baby, but was not strong enough to grow and survive with her flock. She was rescued by a local wild parrot group who fed and cared for her until she was back in good health. At this point she was so used to being around humans, it was decided she couldn’t be safely released, so instead became an education ambassador – going to events with Zovargo to teach the community about parrots.

Baby loves to meet people, climb on their arms and will sometimes even talk (she likes to say her name and to imitate noises!) however she does like her personal space and doesn’t like being stroked too much. She likes to eat a lot of fresh vegetables and fruit and extra vitamins to keep her healthy. As a treat, she will eat seeds and nuts which she finds just delicious.

When she is feeling good, Baby Bird sometimes bows her head down to receive a head scratch!

When she is feeling good, Baby Bird sometimes bows her head down to receive a head scratch!

Sadly, Red-crowned Amazons are officially endangered. This means their population sizes are decreasing to the point where the species is in trouble. Currently wild native populations (in Mexico) are not estimated to exceed 2,000 mature individuals which is incredibly low considering in 1950 it was 100,000 strong (according to a Bird Life International study). The reason for this decline is thought to be due to many birds being trapped and transported from Mexico to the USA for the pet trade. Habitat loss is another cause for the decline.

So do they make good pets? Yes and no. Firstly, as these birds are endangered – you should never buy one as contributing to the pet trade will only act as a further stressor on the wild population. However, occasionally parrots are rescued either from breeders or injured from the wild (like Baby Bird was), in these special cases they can make a wonderful and engaging pet. But it is always worth remembering that adopting a parrot is no small task - These parrots can live for up to 60 years if they have great nutrition and health so it truly is a life-long commitment.

Reference: BirdLife International. (2013). Amazona viridigenalis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2013: e.T22686259A48048745 doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2013-2.RLTS.T22686259A48048745.en Downloaded on 10 February 2017

Sun Conure: Chico!

Chico the Sun Conure

Chico the Sun Conure

Our Sun Conure (Aratinga solstitialis), who goes by the name Chico, is a young parrot around the age of 3. Chico loves being in human company and likes to be gently pet low down on his back, but can be a little overwhelmed if there are loud noises or very busy areas. He sometimes speaks too, saying ‘Chico’ and ‘no’!

Sun Conures are quite a small species of parrot -  typically around 12 inches long. They are native to South America (largely Guyana and Brazil) and they are known for their beautiful coloration and excitable personalities.  When the birds are young they are primarily green, as they mature they develop their beautiful yellow and orange colors – which give them their sunny name.

Currently it is believed that numbers in captivity are larger than the wild population. This has resulted in IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) classifying the Sun Conures as Endangered. Similarly, to the Red-crowned Amazon, this unfortunate situation is ascribed to historic wild trappings for the pet trade and habitat loss.  

Do they make good pets? Like other parrots they have a relatively long life span (up to thirty years!), so it is a big decision to adopt a Sun Conure. Also, as they are very intelligent birds who love human attention they cannot be left alone for too long. They need social interactions and mental stimulation every single day. One thing also worth considering is they can be very noisy, often known for ‘screaming’ when excited or scared. Many owners are not aware of this trait when they buy or adopt their new pet, and the disruption causes them to give it up a few months later which can be very distressing to the Conure. But if you have the time, space and commitment to owning a Sun Conure, then adopting a rescue can be a fantastic thing to do. 

Ref: BirdLife International (2016)  Aratinga solstitialis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T62233372A95192947. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T62233372A95192947.en. Downloaded on 10 February 2017.

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Chico at an event!