Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Researchers Study The Rare Ecuador Amazon Parrot

Photo of the Ecuador Amazon Parrot courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

A group of researchers from the U.K. recently traveled to South America in hopes of learning more about the ultra-rare Ecuador Amazon Parrot (Amazona lilacina). According to a report published by the BBC, however, they left with "more questions than answers."

For many decades, the Ecuador Amazon Parrot was classified as a subspecies of the red-lored Amazon parrot (Amazona autumnalis). Taxonomists initially believed this was the proper classification given the two parrot's familiarities and similar characteristics. In December 2013, however, researchers at Chester Zoo in the United Kingdom classified the Ecuador Amazon Parrot as an entirely new species.

So, why did researchers have the change of heart? There are estimated to be approximately 5-6 million red-lored Amazon parrots, whereas there are only 600 (ish) Ecuador Amazon Parrots currently in existence. The Ecuador Amazon Parrot is also smaller and more colorful than its counterpart.

In terms of appearance, the Ecuador Amazon Parrot is about 32-36 cm in length (beak to tail) with green plumage, red lores, and yellow cheeks (see image above). It's a stunningly beautiful bird that could go the way of the dinosaurs if preservation measures are not taken. Like many birds and parrots native to the Amazon/Ecuador region, it possesses a hard beak that allows it to crack through the tough exteriors of nuts, insects, fruit and vegetables.

In an effort to learn more about the mysterious Ecuador Amazon Parrot, a team of researchers from the U.K. traveled to its native and of Ecuador. Unfortunately, however, they came back with more questions than answers.

Before the trip, the general belief was that the Ecuador Amazon Parrot roosted in the thick mangroves and flew to nearby dry forests to feed -- assuming the dry forests were free of predators. But researchers discovered the Ecuador Amazon Parrot was flying much farther than previously believed. One researcher theorized that the Ecuador Amazon Parrot's long-distance travel could be the result of "bird scaring devices" -- electronic devices used by fishermen to discourage birds from feeding on the local fish.
"The truth is that we came back with far more questions than answers," explained expedition leader Mark Pilgrim, director general of Chester Zoo. "Suddenly, there are a whole number of things that we didn't expect and we now have questions about."

While the population numbers for the Ecuador Amazon Parrot are grim (around 600), researchers noted that there's no immediate threat to the species. This is due in part to the fact that both the mangrove and rainforest are protected.

Monday, June 2, 2014

How To Make Your Parrot Gain Weight

Is your parrot visible underweight -- to the point where you fear for its health and well-being? Skipping a meal here and there probably isn't going to have an adverse reaction on its health, but not eating for several days is a troubling sign that could result in malnutrition among other health problems if not corrected immediately. But how exactly are you supposed to force a parrot to eat?

Common Reasons Why Parrots Stop Eating:

  • Introduced to a new type of food

  • Disease

  • Digestive problems

  • Environmental stress

  • Suffering from a parasite

There are times when parrots stop eating for no apparent reason at all. Pay close attention to your parrot's behavior and mood to see if its exhibiting any other signs of illness. If you believe disease, illness or a parasite is to blame for your parrot's sudden weight loss, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian immediately. Allowing this problem to persist could result in death.

Sweeten Up Your Parrot's Food

One helpful trick that often encourages parrots to eat their food is to sweeten it with fruit juice. Whether you feed them seeds, pellets or a combination of the two, pour some all-natural fruit juice over the top to sweeten it. Orange juice, grape juice, apple juice and pineapple juice are just a few fruit juices that most parrots love.

With the sweet, fruity flavor added to their food, your parrot will be more likely to start eating. Granted, this doesn't always work, but it only takes a couple minutes to try. If you're struggling with a parrot that doesn't want to eat, use the fruit juice trick to sweeten up their lunch and dinner.

Try a New Food

Of course, another idea is to try feeding your parrot a new type of food. Perhaps the formula/ingredients of your parrot's "regular" food was changed without your knowledge (not uncommon for pet food companies to change formulas), and this new formula doesn't sit well with your parrot. Offering your parrot a new type of food may encourage them to start eating once again.

Mix In Some Treats

It's no secret that parrots love treats. You can use this to your advantage by mixing some treats into their normal food. If your parrot enjoys crackers, crumble up a handful of crackers and mix it in their normal food. Hopefully, your parrot will start eating the normal food simply because it contains their favorite type of treat.