Parrots receive helping hand

The Cayman Parrot, the national bird of the Cayman Islands, received a helping hand from Cayman Wildlife Rescue during Earth Week. The organisation hosted ‘Playtime for Parrots’ on Saturday,25 April.

The programme was designed to educate children on the plight of the Cayman Parrot and how protecting the environment will also protect the Cayman Parrot. After watching the presentation ‘Are you as Green as a Cayman Parrot?’ youngsters were enlightened on the link between Cayman’s forests and the Cayman Parrot and how this National Symbol depends on green spaces for food and nesting. After the presentation the children constructed toys for rescued Cayman Parrots.

Cayman Wildlife Rescue is tasked with the rehabilitation and release of injured, sick and orphaned wildlife; species such as the Cayman Parrot are brought in each year for care. This low-flying species is at risk for being hit by oncoming traffic and each year several are brought in for injuries from cars.

According to Alison Corbett, project manager, the programme has proven quite successful.

‘While the majority of the injured parrots brought in for care recuperate and are released, sometimes a Cayman Parrot is so badly injured it can never be released. Fortunately Cayman Parrots can do very well in captivity,’ she said.

Cocoplum, a young Cayman Parrot, was struck by a car last fall and had to have several surgeries to save his wing. Due to the severity of his injury, Cocoplum will never regain his flight and has now been placed with other rescued Cayman Parrots at Boatswain’s Beach. There he receives excellent care and acts as an ambassador to educate visitors about the impact of humans on wildlife.

The Cayman Parrot is also falling victim to the illegal pet trade. Several years ago a young parrot was turned over to Cayman Wildlife Rescue after being robbed from its nest.

‘Toby was one of the unlucky parrots, doomed for a future in a cage. Luckily he was turned over to us and hand-raised by an experienced volunteer,’ said Ms Corbett.

‘Parrots such as these, who are very tame and lack the ‘life skills’ to survive in the wild have little hope for release.’

One caring local farmer, Otto Watler, has dedicated much of his life to the Cayman Parrot and has created a sanctuary for rescued parrots to live their lives in safe and spacious aviaries. Cayman Wildlife Rescue has been assisting Otto Watler in his efforts and provides the parrots with food, treats and enrichment such as new toys every week. This is where the children of Cayman can provide help for rescued Cayman Parrots. At Playtime for Parrots children built toys for these rescued Cayman Parrots.

‘The Cayman Parrot is very intelligent, in the wild they would spend much of their day foraging for food and socialising with other parrots. In captivity we engage them with enrichment such as toys to keep them mentally stimulated and entertained,’ according to Ms Corbett.

The organisers thanked Animal House for donating generously and supplying toy making materials for the children. The event was also a recycling effort as wood scraps and discarded baby toys were reused to make parrot toys. The Machine Shop donated their leftover wood scraps and made pre-drilled cubes the children could easily string on rope.

Attendees were treated to face painting by Taya Maki and received bird buddy wristbands and Cayman Parrot colouring sheets after completing the toy-building.

‘It was a very fun day and I thank all the volunteers, contributors and most of all the children for supporting the Cayman Parrot,’ Ms Corbett said.

FYI

Should you find injured, sick or orphaned wildlife, call the LIME sponsored Wildlife Emergency Hotline 917-BIRD(2473) for help. Members of the public should never attempt to care for a wild animal themselves, as wildlife requires veterinary care and special diets.

Cayman Wildlife Rescue is a programme of the National Trust and is financed by donations from the public and staffed by volunteers. Please contact the Project Manager, Alison Corbett, at [email protected] for information on volunteering or to make a donation.

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