Cayman Parrot earns wings

A young Cayman Parrot is set for
release as part of the Cayman Turtle Farm’s Wild Release Programme.

So far the main beneficiaries of
the programme have been endangered green sea turtles, of which about 31,000
have been released into the wild since the programme began in 1979. However,
the programme also rehabilitates threatened and endangered birds native to the
Cayman Islands.

“We are excited and happy that our
fledgling is doing well and in good health. We feel that he/she will be a
success in the wild and look forward to being able to be a part of the
preservation of the local Cayman Parrot population. We appreciate the support
of members of the public in enabling us to continue our efforts towards the
conservation of our local wildlife,” said Geddes Hislop, curator of terrestrial
exhibits, education programmes and acting curator of marine exhibits.

The parrot, which is yet to be
named, hatched in early June. It is the offspring of Leo, a male parrot and
long time resident of the Turtle Farm who has called it home since the early
1980s, and Sweetpea, a female parrot.

This is a very happy development in
Sweetpea’s story, as she was donated to the Turtle Farm by Cayman Wildlife
Rescue four years ago after being rescued from a poacher. Her injuries were so
severe that it was thought she might have to be euthanised, but she pulled
through. However, the injuries to her one wing and her beak meant that she
would no longer be able to fly or crack the hard seeds that would have made up
her diet in the wild. As she could not be released into the wild, she was
donated to the Turtle Farm. The staff at the Turtle Farm paired Sweetpea and
Leo last year.

The young parrot will be put
through a programme to prepare it for life in the wild. It will be isolated to
limit its reliance on humans and will then slowly be shifted from a diet of
commercial bird food to a diet more closely matching the natural diet of the parrot.
This will include wild hardwood seeds and fruits, along with the branches of the
trees on which the food is found to help the parrot identify the source of the
food. Once the parrot has adapted fully to the wild diet, which could take in
excess of a month, the parrot will be released.

Companies and individuals
interested in assisting with the sponsorship of the Wild Release Programme can
call 949-3894 or e-mail India Narcisse at [email protected]

LOCALparrotSTORY

The young parrot will soon be released back into the wild.
Photo: Submitted
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