Willow’s World: Playscapes & Jungle Gym

I placed one end of the tabletop playscape into Willow’s cage in hopes that she would actually try to come out to the table.

I’d tried to get her to step up and let me take her to the Jungle Gym but she wouldn’t have any of it. Willow did give me, and the perch, a few looks before going ahead to chew away at the perch end. She did somehow manage to fall off and had to find her way back up. Did I mention agility is not her strength? The good news was that she did go back to chipping away at that perch end.

Her landing is rather comfy as there is memory foam padding under the newspapers. She still does not climb up to the top perches, I have to convince her to step up on a perch and carry her up. She will come down when she is ready though. Her feet look really good so I double that arthritis has much to do with her lack of agility.

Anyway. I still have hopes of building her an aviary outside that window for the spring. Maybe a scaled-down version of the last image? The cats may be seriously jealous!

Willow’s World: Foraging as it should be

Plant it and they will come! A variety of parrots once escaped from captivity or the pet traders, have enjoyed some of our habitats. But what about the habitat they came from? We cannot save them if we do not know what they eat or where they nest. Not all seeds, flowers, and fruits are the same for them as they are not for us. As you must know by now, I am a vegan and love anything fruit or vegetable. Except for mushrooms, especially when they are cooked, and olives with few that I can tolerate beyond olive oil. If we have the knowledge and use it, we can coexist with some good management practices. In one study it was found that White-fronted Parrots, like my Willow, foraged on 36 plant species in 21 families with 24.1% being non-native or cultivated. Their diet consisted of 37% seeds, 31% fruit, 26% flowers, 5% leaves, and 2% bark. Willow came into Miami in 1992, age unknown. Does she know or remember what is edible in her native world? Well, I happened to buy her some tamarind in the Indian market yesterday. Who knew she just may have found it a pleasant forage treat. Yes, that is Willow with her tamarind. For the curious, here is the list of the species in the study. Just maybe I can introduce some of these species once I get that greenhouse going and Willow’s aviary in the spring. Of course, I will make sure they are not invasive to our area. Sorry for the bad image of Willow but she hates my cell phone so I have to click quick!

Wild Cashew – Anacardium excelsum

Yellow Mombins or Hog Plum – Spondias mombin

Mango – Mangifera indica

Glassywood, ronron, or aroeira – Astronium graveolens

Pawpaw/sugar apple family – Annona sp.

Rosy trumpet tree – Tabebuia rosea

Kapoktree – Ceiba pentandra

Pochote – Bombacopsis quinata

Balsa tree – Ochroma pyramidale

Spanish elm or Ecuador laurel – Cordia alliadora

Turpentine tree or copperwood – Bursera simaruba

Brazilian firetree – Schizolobium parahybum

Maria mole – Senna reticulate

Tamarind – Tamarindus indica

Sansapote – Licania platypus

Indian-almond – Terminalia catappa* (non-native)

Peruvian almond – Terminalia oblonga

Bushwillows – Combretum sp.

Strawberry tree or Jamaican Cherry – Muntingia calabura

Gumtree – Sapium glandulosum

Coral tree or mountain immortelle – Erythrina poeppigiana

Machete, Poro, or Palo Santo – Erythrina costaricensis

Parrot flower – Psittacamthus sp.

Spanish or Cuban cedar – Cedrela odorataLysiloma divaricatum

Guanacaste, caro caro, monkey-ear tree or elephant-ear tree – Enterolobium cyclocarpum

Ice cream-bean, joaquiniquil, cuaniquil, guama or guaba – Inga sp.

Monkey-pod or raintree – Pithecellobium saman

River tamarind – Leucaena leucocephala

Willow’s World: A bit about parrots

Willow is a White-fronted or Spectacled Amazon, Amazona albinfrons, from Central America but you may have opportunities to check her species off the list here in the United States. The only endemic species to the USA were the Carolina Parakeet, shootings made it globally extinct, and the Thick-billed Parrot, a Mexican species that extended into Arizona and New Mexico area was extirpated from the USA due mainly to shooting, logging, and development. The Green Parakeet and Red-crowned Amazon are possibly endemic as populations may have been and presently are found in southern Texas.

Parrots and parakeets are not migratory so the majority of them arrived with the commercialization of the pet trade during the 1960s and many managed to escape and became established in entry places such as Miami. Our desire to include exotic flowering and fruiting plants in our habitats and for agriculture allowed tropical species to survive when they discovered some of their preferred fruits, nuts, and vegetation. Captive birds have lost their species’ communications and flocking behavior that would normally help them survive in the wild. Chances are Willow would not survive even if released in Miami, Florida where four pairs of White-fronted Amazon’s had at least six successful fledglings in 2001 or areas of California or Texas where they have been sighted but not known to breed. Phrases I find so endearing such as “Thank you” and “Love you” or “Love you too” would simply not help her find friends to flock and roost with! Willow was imported into the US in 1992 and after 28 years of captivity has little agility or awareness of exactly how to move about the bars and perches of her cage. I continue to move her to the third level of perches from which, after some contemplation, she will find her to level two and ultimately level one. A snack bowl at level three is what entices her as she has no desire to explore otherwise. This 9-10” parrot has 6 bowls scattered on her three levels to keep her waddling across those perches regularly. My way to encourage this little senior to keep moving as she does need her exercise and a variety of perch dimensions for her arthritic feet!

As many of you know, the annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is underway! I will be out there on very early on Sunday with binoculars, a camera, and a notebook. Data from the CBC and ebird during the years of 2002 to 2016 indicated sightings of 56 species in 43 states with 25 species breeding in 23 states. There were 118,744 unique observations in 19,812 unique locations. Here in CT we have the Monk Parakeet that many like to see and others despise for the noise and large and heavy nests the colonies build. This brings up the complex discussion of introduced, invasive, and naturalized species and whether to manage them or not. There are many who hate European Starlings and House Sparrows that empty the feeders and kill some of our native breeding birds. During the 1970’s wildlife officials, fearing agricultural destruction reduced the Monk Parakeet population by half leaving them to continue to increase. The other commonly seen parrot in the US is the Red-crowned Amazon, a species that is on the IUCN Red List due to its decline in its native range and leading to possible endangered listing in the US.

For the curious, this is the link to the research paper with the species information and a lot more data that can be read for free online: https://link.springer.com/epdf/10.1007/s10336-019-01658-7…

Crocus: World Views

Red, green, gold. The colors of the holiday season. and a call for an artist date during these crazy days. A journey with my camera to places where flowers bloom and birds fly. Enjoy the lovely day, if the sun is shining where you are. For today the craziness of the outside world, one I have no control over, will be tossed aside. Let the holiday music overshadow all the gloom. World Views. If only we could see the world the way the wild ones do.

World Views: Cinquefoil in Ultraviolet

If we could see the world the way the wild ones do, would we dare to care?

Cinquefoil attracts small bees and flies for pollen and nectar. Rabbits, groundhogs, deer, and livestock sometimes visit to nibble on the foliage. Cinquefoil is a member of the Rosaceae, or rose, family. A number of native and non-native species are found in New England.

Natives in New England include: Potentilla canadensis or dwart cinquefoil, P. litoralis or coast cinquefoil, P. norvegica or Norwegian cinquefoil, P. robbinsiana or Robbins’ cinquefoil, and P. simplex or common cinquefoil.

Natives to areas of the United States include: P. gracilis or graceful cinquefoil, P. litoralis or coast cinquefoil, P. norvegica or Norwegian cinquefoil, P. pulcherrima or soft cinquefoil, P. rivalis or brook cinquefoil, and P. simplex or common cinquefoiol.

Non-natives include: P. alba or white cinquefoil, P. anglica or English cinquefoil, P. argentea or silver-leaved cinquefoil, P. inclinata or ashy cinquefoil, P. indica or Indian-strawberry, P. intermedia or downy cinquefoil, P. recta or sulphur cinquefoil, P. reptans or creeping cinquefoil, and P. verna or spring cinquefoil.

Does it matter which you plant? That depends on your intent, food for a pollinator, decorative, or fits your particular habitat and garden plan, and whether a plant turns out to be considered an invasive species in your area.

For images, range maps, and more information on each species visit Go Botany: https://gobotany.nativeplanttrust.org/genus/potentilla/

Willow’s World: Cinnamon Hummingbirds, White-fronted Amazon Parrots, and Coffee

The shade coffee plantations of Guatemala provide more than just our coffee, they are also good foraging habitat for a number of birds. The Cinnamon Hummingbird and parrots like my Willow, the White-fronted Amazon. While modern shade plantations plant evenly spaced rows of trees, such as Inga, a traditional polyculture plantation will plant Inga along with a variety of fruit trees such as avocado, guava, Jocote, bitter orange, banana, and citrus and will also rely less on fertilizers and herbicides.

The Cinnamon Hummingbird did make an appearance in Arizona and New Mexico in 1992-93, but it is best to wander down to the deciduous, thorn, and second-growth forests of western Mexico, the Yucatan Peninsula, and south to Belize and Costa Rica to see them. Or visit a coffee plantation! Males and females are similar so I’m not sure the sex of the ones that I was able to snap an image of while in the resort in Mexico. The background colors are from the buildings behind the shrubs and trees where the hummingbirds were flittering about.

As for Willow, well she now has a brightly lit Christmas tree to admire during the evenings this season. I decided against the flashing lights I usually love as I wasn’t sure what that may do to her sanity. A trip to Logee’s may be in order for a tropical plant or two for the windows Willow finds herself in front of. Something that can be relocated to her summer aviary outside her ‘bedroom’ window.

Do consider where your coffee comes from as your dollars would do better to support traditional shade plantations that support a wider diversity and higher abundance of bird species.

Happy birding! I hope you are enjoying my travels into Willow’s World. Stay well and enjoy the holiday season.

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