As always with the first report of the year, we present a roundup of the previous 12 months.
Your support and generosity throughout 2019 helped us to rescued 244 birds, well over third of which were parrots. Another third were songbirds, toucans and woodpeckers and the remainder raptors and water-birds equally.
The majority of our parrot intakes joined our long-term rehab programme, and of the remaining species, almost 60% were successfully released. We recorded 62 hotline calls, even though time and staffing constraints mean around three quarters of our calls are resolved on the fly and we neglect to keep a record. We are trying to improve on that for 2020 and have already logged 18 calls in January alone.
Most of our parrot intakes were illegally captive and come through owner-surrenders and Forest Department confiscations. We contine with our yellow-headed parrot at-risk chick programme, and currently have 20 birds that we hand-raised last year that would otherwise have been poached or died in the nest. They are due for release back into the southern pine savannah in May, which would bring our total yellow-head releases to 122 (90 hand-raised babies and 32 ex-captive). The count carried out in 2016 estimates the population at 1200 birds, so every bird returned to the breeding population is valuable to the long-term success of this endemic sub-species.
We encountered 40 conflict patients last year, which is 40 too many. One of our major goals for 2020 is to seek grant funding for a full-time mobile education and media officer. Outreach is a crucial part of our work in Belize. Your donations already help us to reach out to the public but we are determined to do more. This is a very small country with less than 400,000 inhabitants, at least 30% of which are in some form of education, and with only a couple of national media outlets, it’s a very easy country to present insightful awareness to. Members of the public reported over half of our 244 intakes. They are our eyes and ears and it’s crucial that we continue to reach out to them for assistance.
Throughout 2019 we released 156 birds. 88 of those were parrots, including 28 endangered yellow-heads. At the end of 2019 we were caring for 148 birds most of which ex-captive parrots undergoing long-term rehabilitation.
Throughout the year we enjoyed the company and expertise of 22 interns and volunteers who between them gave us 577 days of their valuable time free of cost, for which we are forever grateful!
Apologies for the barrage of numbers but it’s important for us to let you know the positive impact that your donations make to our organisation’s work. Once again we have been completely overwhelmed by the backing and encouragement given by our GlobalGiving family. Every year your support grows and 2019 absolutely smashed previous years for donations. Thank you all so very, very much!
We will leave you with a couple of our favourite photos of 2019 and as promised, one of the baby red-foot booby we received last week.
Thank you once again for everything you do for us. We absolutely couldn’t do it without you!
Nikki & the BBR Team
This last quarter has seen 39 great releases including 21 parrots, 3 red-foot boobies, 2 pelis, 4 raptors and 6 ‘garden’ birds.
We took in 43 patients, including 10 songbirds, 9 waterbirds, 7 raptors and 10 parrots, and as of today after our latest bout of releases we have ‘only’ 147 birds at the Centre undergoing rehabilitation. This is the lowest number I can remember for a good few years, which is testament to the success of the parrot rehabilitation programme and the Forest Department’s work with the licensing and enforcement programmes. Not to mention the public’s response to our plea not to take parrots from the wild. It hasn’t diminished our feed bill, however, as we are still feeding all of our releases – there are probably 40 parrots that now come in daily for feeding while they find their way around the territory. They are a noisy bunch, that’s for sure!
Our interns and volunteers right now include the wonderful Dr Duane Tom who is enjoying the slower pace of life from his usual hectic schedule of wildlife intakes at the California rescue. Plus the lovely Angela who is interning here for 3 months from Germany. They make a great team, but sadly Dr Tom leaves tomorrow and Angela will be gone before Christmas. I have certainly enjoyed the expert and consistent assistance and will miss them like crazy.
This may be a good opportunity for us to remind you of Giving Tuesday which is always a big day for us on Global Giving. I know the tax regime is not as kind to donors as it was in the past, but if you have a tax-deductible donation or a corporate matching contribution you would like to send our way, then please keep the 3rd of December in mind as there will be lots of double-up dollars and bonus dollars available through GG.
Thank you as always for your incredible and unwavering generosity and support. I am slowly getting to meet some of you through your visits to Rock Farm Guest House, and really hope to meet many, many more of you as the years go on. It’s a fabulous way to support us and you get a Belize Birdy holiday in exchange for your donation.
Thank you once again for your loyalty and encouragement. You’re always amazingly generous, and we simply couldn’t do what we do without you!
Nikki & the BBR Team
We are delighted to report that the end of May saw the successful release of last year’s hand-reared yellow- headed chicks. The lovely Dr Sophie accompanied these 28 birds to the National Park in the south of the country where they were finally able to fly free after 12 months of growing up. This brings our grand total of released yellow-heads to 102: more than 8% of the total global population! (and thank you Dr Sophie for the fabulous photos of them being released)
We carried out a total of 87 releases between May and July including (amongst others) 11 olive-throated parakeets, 18 red loreds, 9 owls, 4 woodpeckers, one of our baby red-foot boobies and our globe-trotting royal tern. Of our 126 intakes, 27 were released, 7 were transferred and 59 are moving through the programme. If you do the maths, you’ll see why this is our most loved and our most loathed time of year. While success stories abound, there are also many mortalities, particularly amongst the passerines (songbirds). Nature can be very cruel indeed.
As of the end of July 2019 we have 170 birds undergoing rehabilitation. One of our favourite stories for this quarter is that Bella finally has a boyfriend. Bella is our resident Blue & Gold macaw. She was captive bred for the USA pet trade, and hand-raised by humans. She’s very bonded to people and we didn’t think she would ever find a soul mate in a parrot, but along came Kat the Catalina – a huge male hybrid that we figure escaped from across the border and was flying free in northern Belize for several months. Thank goodness he was safely captured as there was definitely an effort in several of the villages he frequented to bring him down and cage him for sale. That would not have been a good outcome for him. Now he and Bella occupy one of our larger enclosures and seem to be quite content with one another. The start of something wonderful...?
We also received 16 baby white-fronts this year. They are quite possibly one of the cutest species on the planet. Sadly two of them have clipped feathers, so their recuperation will be more than 2 years, however, they are babies and it will give them time to mature and bond with their fellow rehab candidates.
A huge shout-out and thanks as always to our interns. We have just bidden farewell to the wonderful skill and company of Dr Gemma. This was her 3rd trip now to BBR, and we hope not her last. We’ve had some fabulous rehab interns throughout the season and hope to welcome more as the year goes on.
And of course, thank YOU, our donors. You know we can’t do it without you!!
By the way, you may like to watch our Facebook page for the latest rehab news, and we just advertised our new batch of ultra-soft t-shirts for sale. Put your order in quick as supplies are limited and thank you to those who have already purchased. It's a great way to support and to actually get something back other than our usual love and gratitude!
Thank you all once again for your loyal support. You’re amazing!
Nikki & the BBR Team
Greetings from Belize,
A few good news updates since our last monthly report. The red lored whose eye was destroyed by a pellet or sling shot was finally released last week. It’s a difficult call to make to release a one-eyed bird of any species, but parrots have an advantage of living in a strong social structure so we hope that will compensate for his half-vision when it comes to predator awareness. He was extremely agitated in a captive situation, and birds like him are almost impossible to habituate, so we felt it only fair to give him a chance to be free again rather than condemn him to life in a cage.
We also had a visitor to one of our feeders: an un-banded white-front with a large chunk of her beak missing. She was skinny and quite desperate. She allowed herself to be caught (although now she’s stronger I bet she regrets that decision) and has been eating smoothies like there’s no tomorrow. No band means she’s either wild-born or an escaped pet. Whatever she is she encountered something strong and aggressive to have chewed up her beak like that. Oscar said it looked as if her face had been remodeled with a stick of dynamite – so that’s her name! Dyna continues to thrive and hates us for keeping her captive, but without a beak she wouldn’t last long outside.
We had a couple of fast turn-arounds which we always enjoy. One was a purple gallinule that we picked up from Orange walk. He had mild head trauma and was found wandering in the middle of the town. After first-class room and board he was released fitter and fatter a couple of weeks later. We were called out to check on a bat falcon hit by a bus in Biscayne Village. He was stunned for a few hours, but otherwise uninjured. We took the risk of releasing on site that afternoon and thankfully it worked out perfectly. We’ve also had the usual flurry of migrants heading back north that have encountered windows or vehicles along the way. We humans don’t make their difficult journey any easier, that’s for sure.
We anticipate releasing a royal tern soon, who has been with us for far too long already. He was banded in Hampton Beach, Virginia USA 7 months ago, and flew 1500 miles to Belize. Somewhere along the way he injured his food and become debilitated by parasites. He was very lucky the caring folks of The Bliss Centre in Belize City put him in a box and called on our assistance for him.
And finally, just yesterday we received 3 yellow-headed amazon chicks – our first of the season. It always breaks my heart to think of the parents returning to empty nest, but as the team in the field keep reminding me, better that we take them than the poachers. It’s still awful knowing that the parents have invested so much physical and mental resources into raising them to this 7 or 8 week stage only to return to an empty nest. I can’t imagine their heartbreak.
Thank you so much as always for your generosity and support. You make it all possible!!
2018 was a record year for our little rescue, in many ways.
We saw more intakes than ever with 309 cases, 93 of which were released during the same year. 108 of them are still undergoing rehabilitation, with 35 transferred to other facilities or to authorized carers. Amongst the intakes were 119 parrots, 60 raptors, 29 water-birds and 73 passerines, toucans and woodpeckers. Of those 309 cases, the general public generated 150 of the rescues from their reports, and the Forest Department and other organisations generated another 93 birds.
Our releases throughout the year included 92 parrots and 39 owls! Of the 166 birds still undergoing rehabilitation, all but 12 of them are parrots.
Our 2018 expenditure was slightly higher than usual at around $85,000US, but that’s to be expected with the increase in cases, however with our Annual in-country fundraiser, the support of the wonderful GlobalGiving donors, and financial and operational support from Rock Farm Guest House, our income was also a considerably more than usual. We also had much more in-kind support in the form of vets and interns than we have even had before. We received 168 days of veterinary care from 4 vets, and 770 days of intern assistance from 18 wonderful people from around the world.
We are delighted to say that our parrot rehab programme is growing and growing, and the ‘wild’ flocks around BBR are growing too! Many of them brought back babies this year, and the off-site releases of endangered yellow-heads were the fastest and most successful yet.
This coming April we will be sending 27 hand-reared yellow-head babies back to the wild, and we cannot wait to see this fabulous flock of youngsters flying free where they truly belong.
Once again, we could not do what we do without the financial and moral support of our GlobalGiving Community. We can never find the ways to thank you enough, certainly not with words along, but maybe if you go to our Facebook page or website and see the photos and videos of the birds you have helped us to heal and to grow and find their way to freedom, then you will know that every single dollar counts and it IS worth it and we simply couldn’t do what we do with you, the donor.
Thank you - from the bottom of every feathery little heart at BBR.
Nikki & the BBR Team
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