The Military Macaw Projecti

Pet Tales

by Barry B. Burtis D.V.M.


There are just so many worthy causes to support these days. Walk-a-thons, bike rides, auction fund-raisers, in addition to all the familiar charitable agencies that deserve our continuing support to improve conditions in our world. Whether it's cancer research or helping children at home or overseas, most everyone attempts to help a cause they believe in.


Many of us believe in efforts with environmental or ecological goals in mind, and try to help with donated dollars. Sometimes it's nice to find a new or different somebody to assist. I think I may have something that will be of interest to some people and present a learning opportunity, as well.


Military Macaws are not a troupe of aggressive attack parrots or psittacines trained to precision march on a parade ground. No, they are large parrots and a member of the macaw genus. They are mostly green in colour with blue flight feathers and their red tail is bordered with blue. Their head is a slightly paler shade of green with a red frontal patch. In flight, when struck by certain lighting, their feathers take on a very unique iridescence. As adults, they weigh 900 - 1100 grams ( 2- 2 1/2 lbs.). They are very striking birds. They are native to the forests of Mexico and South America.


Though Military Macaws are protected by national and international regulations, they are listed as a Vulnerable species. Current estimates suggest there are about 10,000 to 20,000 birds in the wild and their population appears to be rapidly decreasing. This decline is largely due to habitat loss and capture for the cagebird trade.


In an effort that is attempting to collect research data and formulate methods to reverse this trend, Parrots International is supporting the Military Macaw Project in Mexico. Carlos Raul Bonilla Ruz, a Mexican biologist, with the National Polytechnic Institute, is conducting this study. He has 28 years of experience in biodiversity and conservation of wildlife issues. He is working to obtain biological data necessary for the management and conservation of Military Macaw nests in the Banderas Bay region of Mexico. This information can be used in specific activities to benefit both the macaws and local communities that could benefit from eco-tourism in this area. You can learn more about what, in my opinion, is a very worthwhile endeavour at www.pennies4parrots.ca or here's an even better idea.


On November 12th-13th, 2011, the Canadian Parrot Conference ( www.canadianparrotconference.ca ) is being held at the Holiday Inn at Guelph. It is a wonderful place to learn from world-renowned experts about parrot care, behaviour and breeding issues. There is a trade show with a great variety of goods and giftware for birds and bird lovers. You can also meet and mingle with parrot owners and parrots in a friendly, entertaining, learning atmosphere. As well as all these benefits, it will also give anyone attending an opportunity to learn more about the Military Macaw Project in Mexico. The organizers of the Conference are inviting bird clubs and organizations, pet stores and concerned individuals to unite in a challenge to make a difference in wildlife conservation. We cannot support every deserving project these days. However, by becoming involved in the support of one small project, for one small parrot population, in one small part of the world, we have the opportunity to make a truly significant difference. Barry Burtis is a local companion animal veterinarian. Past Pet Tales can be found at www.baycitiesanimalhospital.ca