The first quarter of 2021 followed our familiar pattern of barn owls, pelicans and lost ‘pet’ parrots, interspersed with “who knows what’s next”. We’ve treated 70 patients so far this year with over half of those coming in through April.
We’re raising 4 adorable pygmy owls after their tree-cavity home was destroyed in a freak storm. The mom abandoned the site unfortunately, despite the best efforts of the home owner to re-nest. Of our 15 barn owls this year, we lost two due to injuries, 4 are not yet fledged and the remaining 9 have been released.
Our tiniest patient was a nestling rufous-tailed hummingbird who was rescued from the mischief of a domestic cat. He is now enjoying his second chance life around the BBR property.
We’ve been making excellent use of our new truck for rescues, especially for our 9 lost parrots. The saddest case is a white-fronted adult female that suffered such neglect in captivity she had a bacterial infection and parasite issues, weighed only 119g (typical weights 180-220) and had a wing and leg fracture in her weak bones caused by chronic nutritional deficiencies. Her escape is a miracle, her discovery in a low bush in a small Cayo village is even more miraculous. She is quite the fighter!
Other lost pets, although not in as poor shape as this one, are equally as fortunate to have escaped to be discovered by someone who knows to call us, and not just decide to recapture the bird.
We took our new truck on its first trip down south to the yellow-headed Amazon nesting grounds in Payne’s Creek National Park to carry out a long-overdue overhaul of our release enclosure. It was a long and brutally hot day. Every time I visit I am in awe of the work that the TIDE rangers do in that area with nest monitoring and protection, anti-poaching efforts, fire control and replanting management.
Only a few days later, our truck was back again to pick up the first at-risk chicks of the season. Mario, the Head Ranger had decided to extract these chicks due to a high risk of predation – the old nest tree cavity was completely exposed and open to both aerial and land predators. It’s always a difficult call to make, but we completely trust Mario’s judgement based on decades of experience.
A fourth chick was brought in by the Belize Bird Conservancy monitoring team – this little guy was so tiny they feared his huge siblings would squash him or out-compete him for food. It’s rare that more than two birds fledge from these cavities in the best of circumstances, so this was also a good decision. Relocating was explored, but there were no other nests containing only one chick of comparable size.
We also received a gorgeous olive-throated parakeet chick which sadly came down in a legal logging operation. As always we are truly thankful that people call us rather than selling or keeping these birds as pets.
So into the hard dry season we go, with temperatures rising and water in short supply for the wildlife of the country. It’s a hard life for these birds, and we are as always forever grateful to you all for providing us with the means to help them. We couldn’t do any of this without your generosity and support, and this year we are exceptionally grateful for our reliable vehicle which is entirely down to you. It is a complete joy to be able to relax on every journey, knowing we will make it there and back successfully!
With our warmest regards,
Nikki and the BBR Team.
Just a very quick line to wish you and your families a very Happy New Year and thank you so much for the incredible support during what has been a very difficult 12 months for everyone. I don’t think there’s a single person that will be sad to see the last of 2020, and I really hope things will improve in the months to come.
That said, we have been completely blown away by your support and generosity throughout the struggles of this year. Without you we literally would have been unable to continue our work, and that would have been devastating for the birds already in our care, plus the 254 new birds we have helped this year, not to mention soul-destroying for us to be rendered helpless in the face of need.
I will send our usual round-up of the year in January which I hope will help you understand the incredible things that your generosity has achieved.
In the meantime, stay safe and well. Enjoy your New Year’s Eve as best you can, and we will see you on the other side!
Warmest wishes from Nikki and the BBR Team
We wanted to reach out and thank you for an amazing Giving Tuesday. It is such a relief to know that your donations and support for our fundraiser ensures food and care for our 180 rehab cases through the first couple of months of 2021. Thank you!
We certainly have had some challenges this year, and in keeping with its reputation as a ‘bingo year’, 2020 treated us to some floods. The entire country suffered greatly, and Belize Bird Rescue’s property has gone from soggy quagmire to swimming pool and back again over the last couple of months. We were way luckier than most in Belize as none of our buildings were inundated, but it was touch and go several times. Between closed roads and bridges, Covid travel restrictions and curfews, and waterlogged farmland, it’s been a massive challenge purchasing or foraging produce for the birds. Your donations have certainly helped with the rising costs and our need to purchase expensive pellets and seeds to make up the shortfall.
It’s no secret that 2020 also destroyed both of our trusty old vehicles. Once again, you’ve been astounding with your support in helping us, and we hope that by 2021 we will be back on the road. Watch this space!
Since our September report we have had 46 new intakes, including 12 parrots. We’ve managed a few more releases including 5 more ex-captive yellow-headed Amazons, always our most challenging rehab cases. They were released by David Hilmy at the Kutunza Translocation Facility in the south of the country, making 57 former pet yellow-heads released at this site.
In October we started producing a monthly newsletter highlighting a few of our activities. If you would like to subscribe please go to https://mailchi.mp/0444238cdb8d/subscribe. We will also be in touch shortly with a round-up of the year. I can’t believe it’s nearly over. That was quite the emotional whirlwind!
Finally, as always, I want to try to explain to you how grateful we are for you, our GlobalGiving family. I feel that you really have our backs. You are our source of funding. You are keeping each and every one of the birds here at the rescue alive, happy and healthy. You’re providing our veterinary services, our rescue trips, our power and water. You provide wages for Oscar, Orlando and Carmen to come and help take the pressure off now and then, to re-perch and deep-clean. You are feeding every beak. You are the reason why BBR has managed to release more than 1000 parrots back into the wild over the years. We cannot do this without you. We truly can’t.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Nikki & all at BBR
I had to smile reading through my May report. Back then it was Covid and fires. Now it’s Covid and hurricanes. Because things are not tough enough, right? We are watching approaching storm Nana and will likely have to pull in the vulnerable birds and then hunker down until this predicated hurricane passes over, misses us, or fizzles out. I always worry about the released birds, the ones we can’t help or protect, but you know they always manage to find somewhere safe to hide out. Smart birds.
We have been so, so fortunate to have had your support. Since May there’s been 115 rescues, 59 of which are parrots, 7 waterbirds, 17 songbirds and 15 raptors. We released 21 of those birds and 78 are still with us undergoing long-term rehabilitation, bringing our total in care right now to 225.
I cannot stress this enough – there is no way at all that we could have helped any of them without your loyal support. You are incredible. Thank you!
Some of our highlights were 10 gorgeous barn owl releases and the release of Touca the bent-beaked toucan. She’s doing well, visiting about once a week to let us know she’s still alive. We also managed to free our 6 parakeets that had been clipped as young birds and their regrowth had taken what felt like forever. We transferred another 7 ex-captive yellow-heads to our release site on a private reserve. The manager of the reserve does the most amazing job of successfully soft-releasing all of these oddities. He’s given a second chance to 42 ex-captive yellow-heads at this site. Thank you David!
We finally raised 18 endangered yellow-headed amazon chicks that are now weaned and out in the ‘bush’ aviary where they stay until their release in May 2021. We’ve had some roller-coaster cases too. I’ve never had to deal with so many sick and debilitated confiscated parrots, and of course this would be the year with no vets or interns on site. The other challenge has been lack of hand-feeding formula. Usually I get visitors and interns to bring them in their suitcases, but there have been no suitcases this year either. Old-school with the blender!
Covid has finally hit Belize, as we all knew it would, and so our borders remain closed and the end seems to be nowhere in sight. We really hope that you are staying safe and well in this ongoing pandemic. I guess in the end everything else is secondary.
Finally, I want to say once more, we are unbelievably grateful for your generosity and support. Please, if you have the time, share our Facebook page or other social media, and our GlobalGiving fundraising pages. If we are to continue as Belize's only multi-species, avian rescue organisation then we need you now more than ever. The birds need you, now more than ever. Consider yourselves their savior, as without you the 198 birds that have come through our doors this year would have been left to die.
Bless you, and remain safe
Nikki & all at BBR
I must begin this report with a resounding Thank You to all of our GlobalGiving supporters. You are incredible, and we certainly know you have our back. Many of you may know that our biggest source of funding comes via our small B&B which was cut off at the knees in early March as a result of Covid-19. Since then we have been stunned and overjoyed at the support given by corporations, organisations and private individuals. Thank you all so much for alleviating much of the worry for our current situation.
So, yes, thanks to people like you, we are still here and as busy as ever with 163 rehab birds to care for. Personally I am busier than ever, as we are down to skeleton staff for both financial and health reasons, and of course we have no interns, which leaves yours truly to cover the shortfall. I know it’s good for me!
On a side note, the Belize Government has handled this epidemic exceptionally well, and coupled with calm and order amongst the Belizean people have managed lock down the country to keep covid cases to just 18, sadly 2 deaths, but no new positive tests since April 13th and all 16 cases now declared recovered and virus free. There are no flights whatsoever, domestic or international, and we are permitted limited in-country travel only. BBR is classed as an essential service and can attend rescues, releases and vet appointments as usual.
Belize is also experiencing drought for the second year running, which has of course brought fires. Thank you Mother Nature, we know you’re annoyed, but give us a break, will you?
Several of our intakes were rescued from the threat of fires including 3 red lored parrots and a teeny baby white-front. One of the red loreds must have leaped from his nest hole as the fire approached, and was found floating in the river (lucky, lucky bird). He unfortunately sustained a wing fracture, but this is now almost healed, thanks to our wonderful vet Dr Philip Deshield.
We also had 2 pygmy owl chicks that were in the thick of a fire and their fallen tree was doused in water by the Forest Department before they realized the birds were there. Despite this they survived and are now thriving.
We are caring for 4 boisterous barn owl nestlings, which I think are my favourite raptor. The usual story for these guys, evicted from a roof space undergoing repair. Every night they are consuming 5 rats between them, which shows what an amazing job of pest control the parents had been doing at their banana farm home. Incredible birds!
And just this weekend, I spent the day with the rangers in Payne’s Creek National Park removing 17 yellow-headed parrot chicks which were at high risk of being poached or being crushed in overcrowded nests. All are doing well and adapting to the new circumstances of their unusual journey to freedom. We post updates on our rehab cases on our Facebook page. The link is attached if you would like to follow their progress.
We hope you are doing well in whatever circumstances this epidemic has forced upon you, and thank you once again for your unwavering support and generosity for our avian rehabilitation efforts in Belize. I know I keep saying it, but we really can’t do what we do without you.
Nikki & the BBR Team
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