Villa Quetzal

Villa Quetzal

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Scarlet Macaws are back!

The Scarlet Macaws in Costa Rica

The reason why I am so excited about them being back is that they have not been around the Ojochal-Uvita area for around 20 years according to some local sources.  This beautiful Scarlet Macaws or Lapas Rojas as they are called in this country, showed up last December (2010) and extended their visit trough March (2011); suddenly, one day they were gone, no more squawks while flying over the house; we really thought they were gone for good, but, just a week ago, what a great surprise “they are back”.   They really are my spirit lifter.

It is fair to say that one of the most beautiful and majestic birds in Costa Rica is the Scarlet Macaw.

Their large size and bright colors make it a favorite even among the most casual birder.  You can hear the Scarlet Macaws before your eyes can catch the sight of them.  They have a coarse, raucous squawk that carry great distance.
Scarlet Macaws prefer undisturbed rainforest.

They eat fruits, nuts, one of their favorites is the almond found on the trees of the Costa Rican Beaches, flowers and nectar are very appealing to them, what they really love is the tropical fruits, they often eat unripe fruit and nuts that other animals avoid.  These macaws also eat clay from riverbanks.  No one is sure why these parrots do this, but the clay seems to be important to them.  One hypothesis is that the clay helps the parrots to digest poisonous chemicals found in the unripe fruit they eat.  They use their powerful beaks to get the soft inter part of the seeds; they also use their beak as a defense weapon against predators.

Scarlet Macaws live in moist and wet tropical lowland forest of the pacific slope where they can find large mature trees that provide nesting cavities.

Scarlet Macaws mate for life and may live up to 60 years.  Their eyes can tell you their chronologically stage in life; when they are young they have large black pupils that seem to fill their eyes, and when they get older their pupils are smaller and their iris turns light yellow.

A pair of Scarlet Macaws raises one or two young each season in a tree cavity nest.
The young birds often stay with their parents for up to two years.  The adult parrots will not have more babies until the young leave the nest.  As a result, the number of Macaws increases very slowly.

In the past, the National Parks were the most popular places to see the Scarlet Macaws.  Carara, Manuel Antonio and Corcovado National Park in the Osa Peninsula, were among the most popular for Macaw watch. 
They were also seen in the regular basis over the Río Tárcoles and around Drake Bay.

Somehow, despite the deforestation that has affected the macaws for the last 20 years they seem to be back.  They are showing up more often and in greater numbers in the Village of Ojochal.  Sometimes they can be seen flying over the tall trees surrounding the vacation homes and also by the beaches from Ojochal to Dominical, congregating in substantial numbers around the Uvita area, where they showed up last December for the very first time in almost 20 years, according to some locals.
Many Scarlet Macaws have been taken from the wild to be sold as pets in the black market and shipped out of Costa Rica.

Because this country does not allow keeping the Scarlet Macaws in captivity, there is no chance that you can see a Scarlet Macaw for sale in a pet store in Costa Rica, remember, they are not considered pets in this country.

Personally, being a former owner of a Blue and Gold Macaw while living in the U.S., every time I see the Scarlet Macaws flying over my back yard, I cannot help to feel like they are my pets, my friends and they come and visit and always bring a message of love and wisdom from Mother Nature. 
I may not be able to touch them or teach them to talk, but I admire and enjoy them the same.

Come to Costa Rica and experience the bliss of being in the presence of such majestic and mystical bird: 

The Costa Rican Scarlet Macaw.

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