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Saving Belize's Birds

by Belize Bird Rescue
Saving Belize's Birds
Saving Belize's Birds
Saving Belize's Birds
Saving Belize's Birds
Saving Belize's Birds
Saving Belize's Birds
Saving Belize's Birds
Saving Belize's Birds
Saving Belize's Birds
Saving Belize's Birds
Saving Belize's Birds
Saving Belize's Birds
Saving Belize's Birds
Saving Belize's Birds
Saving Belize's Birds
Saving Belize's Birds
Saving Belize's Birds
Saving Belize's Birds
Saving Belize's Birds
Saving Belize's Birds
Dr Sophie performing surgery
Dr Sophie performing surgery

Dear all,

This last quarter has been quite eventful. In terms of fundraising we had the best period ever, thanks to your generous Giving Tuesday donations and a lovely surprise windfall from GlobalGiving who chose BBR as their Project of the Month. That combination of funds enabled us to get both of our creaking vehicles back on the road with bells on! The little Ford Ranger has never run so well. For that we thank you from the bottom of our heart – a real shot in the arm for our rescue efforts. We also used some of the funds to create our membership packages which are now selling well. Your money is working all over again to create that magical sustainability. Speaking of which, our Guest House is picking up month by month. One day we envisage that Rock Farm Guest House will provide complete funding for the rescue, and for our education and conservation projects.

Anyway, enough of the dull money stuff – let’s talk about birds. This last quarter we have dealt with pygmy owls, barn owls, hawks and falcons, a vulture and songbirds, herons, pelicans and storks, and of course lots and lots of parrots. We’ve been receiving regular feeding formula donations and vitamins from Hagen in Quebec in readiness for the upcoing breeding season and many visitors to the Guest House have seen our ‘Pack for a Purpose’ initiative and have given over precious luggage space to medical supplies and food.

We have released more than 50 parrots and are excited to see them begin to pair up and search seriously for nesting sites. Our adult yellowheads have been on soft release for almost 3 months and are getting less and less stupid by the day! They are starting to behave like a wild flock, spending less time seeking out humans and more time flying and foraging. We reckon they are ranging over 5 miles now and that is simply fabulous news. I have learned to ‘never say never’ when it comes to rehabbing former pet birds, as I never thought in my wildest dreams that some of these birds would ever make it as a wild birds.

 A bonus addition to our Team: we’ve been in the very capable hands of avian vet Dr Sophie Hebert for the last 3 months. She’s only on loan from her friends in Quebec, but we are making the most of her until she leaves us later in the year.  She brings knowledge and training, and she has most definitely given an injured parakeet and an injured vulture the gift of flight with her orthopaedic surgical skills.

That stroke of midnight announcing 2018 seems very far away now, and no-one is ever quite sure how long the New Year actually lasts, but we would like to wish you a Happy New Year anyway, and a very healthy and prosperous 2018

Thank you once again for your thoughtful generosity. You are all Heroes!

Warm regards,

Nikki & the BBR Team

Vulture after wing pin
Vulture after wing pin
Juvenile yellow crowned night heron (wing injury)
Juvenile yellow crowned night heron (wing injury)
Yellowhead baby waiting to be released
Yellowhead baby waiting to be released
White front babies already released
White front babies already released
Birding at Rock Farm
Birding at Rock Farm
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Connie, female white front parrot
Connie, female white front parrot

This project report is a submission to GlobalGiving's 2017 Fail Forward Contest, where organizations are asked to share a story of when they tried something new that didn't go as planned and how they learned from it. Enjoy!

We first started rehabilitating former captive parrots for release in 2004. To be perfectly honest, we didn’t really know what we were doing. We asked several parrot experts what the protocols and methodology were, and the general reply was ‘we have no idea but if you ever find out, please let us know’. Not terribly helpful…

The pivitol moment in BBR’s history was without doubt the death of Connie, the white-front parrot. She was liberated from the tiniest cage you have ever seen. I couldn’t even get my hand through the door. She was being fed by sprinkling sunflower seeds through the bars, and she had a tiny child’s play-set coffee cup as a water dish, which she preferred to use as a hat most of the time. She was the quietest, most adorable, placid bird I had ever come across.

When Connie came along, we were still fumbling at rehab: we had released 6 or 7 birds which we now know was more by luck than judgement. They would come into the house and night to sleep, and play out in the trees by day. Most had clipped wings, which take a full year to grow back in. We became very proficient at climbing ladders and persuading parrots to jump!

There’s a dangerous few months when the bird has enough flight feathers to get into trouble, but not enough to get out of trouble. It was during that half-way period that Connie took off toward the forest. We had a general idea of where she would have landed, but being a quiet bird, we called and called but she didn’t respond. I had people looking for her for days. We finally found a pile of feathers perhaps quarter of a mile away. It was then and there we decided if we were going to do this, if we were going to do right by these birds, if we were going to succeed in helping them, then we had to do it right.

We started building large aviaries and in true ‘build it and they will come’ fashion, more and more birds were being brought to the centre. The aviaries created a safe and secure jungle environment while feathers grew and the birds learned flock interaction and critical survival skills with minimal human intervention. Our protocols developed rapidly and we became efficient and proficient at the soft-release of our birds.

Today we have rehabbed and released more than 500 former captive parrots and now people look to BBR for guidance. I often think of Connie and wonder where we would be now if it wasn’t for her. She was without doubt our most significant ‘fail forward’ moment. Fly Free, little soul.

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Yellow heads in the pre-release enclosure
Yellow heads in the pre-release enclosure

Dear all,

I know it’s only a month since our last report, but we want to take this opportunity to give you a brief update on the latest exciting happening for our ‘Up and Running’ project.  For the whole month of September Belize Bird Rescue has had the honour of being GlobalGiving’s Project of the Month. As you may know, we have had several disasters with our 2 old vehicles: one needs a complete new engine and the other is only just limping along and is super-expensive to run, so the money from the project of the Month Club is hopefully going to get us back up and driving! Thank you so much to the project of the month donors for their amazing contribution and to GlobalGiving for choosing us out of all of the excellent causes and projects out there. And of course, huge thanks to all of YOU – our regular supporters who have helped to swell the donation from the Club and make our goal more achievable. Once we have the disbursement in Belize we will be shopping for the perfect vehicle that has the best bang for our buck. Watch this space!

Since our last report, we have had the joy of releasing as additional 5 olive-throated parakeets and 4 white-fronted amazons into the wild groups around the Centre, plus 15 yellowheaded amazons who were all older ex-pets and so habituated when they came to us that we never thought they could be released. Thank goodness they are proving us wrong.

Finally, in case you wondering, we managed to escape the devastation of the hurricanes so far this season. We know an awful lot of our fellow conservationists on many Caribbean Islands were not quite so lucky, and our heart goes out to them. Believe me, we know how they feel. There but for the grace of God go us.

So thank you once again and we will be in touch hopefully with photos of our wonderful new rescue vehicle!

Warm regards,

Nikki and the BBR Team

A rare photo of Nikki! Transferring yellowheads
A rare photo of Nikki! Transferring yellowheads
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Confiscated from poachers - baby red loreds
Confiscated from poachers - baby red loreds

Dear all,

Our sincere and humble thanks to you once again for your incredible generosity over the last few months. We are always stuck for adequate words as it’s almost impossible to convey you how grateful we are for your support.

So far for the first half of this year we have released 90 birds which included 51 parrots. Then the baby season brought us 42 additional confiscated and rescued parrots, which put us almost back where we were. Our total of birds currently in the rehab programme is 198, almost all of them parrots rescued from the illegal pet trade.

This has not been an easy couple of years: we are transitioning from being privately (and comfortably) funded, to striving to stay afloat. In case you weren’t aware, the sole income generation for BBR was through our co-founder/director Jerry, but he was severely impacted by the oilfield crash two years ago. Since that time we have been using our remaining savings to keep BBR up and running and to establish a Bed & Breakfast business on-site to provide sustainable long-term funding for the Rescue. We are getting there slowly and the B&B is gradually gaining a solid reputation. By all means share our information: www.rockfarmbelize.com

We are also launching a Membership Programme called ‘Fly Free Belize’ which would make a fabulous and affordable gift for friends and family – and yourself of course! Please check out the BBR website for details.

We believe we have realistic future strategies to become self-sustaining, provided we can continue to receive help from people like you in the meantime. So - if there is one more giant thing we could ask you to do for us, it would be to share our Global Giving projects, website and Facebook page with your social media contacts, friends and family. Our total annual outgoings for the rescue are still around $80,000US. We can see no realistic way of reducing this figure whilst maintaining our core activities which include assisting the Forest Department with their anti-poaching and enforcement strategies and continuing the hand-rearing of confiscated and at-risk chicks, especially the endangered yellowheaded parrot (Amazona oratrix belizensis).

Once again, thank you so much for your generosity and support.

Warm regards,

Nikki and the BBR Team

Michal checking the yellowhead babies
Michal checking the yellowhead babies
Barbora and Sierra feeding the baby parrots
Barbora and Sierra feeding the baby parrots
One of this year's released white-fronts
One of this year's released white-fronts

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Released white fronts
Released white fronts

Thanks to generous donors like you, we are continuing to help the birds of Belize.

Your donations over the last quarter have continued to keep us afloat. Although we haven’t been too active in fundraising – giving you a well-deserved break after the amazing GivingTuesday campaign last year - we did have that marvelous flurry of support for the 50% match ‘Little By Little’ in early April. We received an additional $1100 in total!! That’s a tremendous boost to our operations. Thank you so much.

So what have we been up to since we last spoke? Well, we are coming to the end of the ‘quiet season’. We have had the usual slow start to the year with only 42 patients, but breeding season is upon us (May to September) so are bracing ourselves for the incoming wave of trouble.

Barn owl season earlier this year saw 8 baby owls. This small number is hopefully an indication of the continued education having an impact on people’s negative superstitions about these birds. We had a rare Great Horned Owl baby which was successfully released on Ambergris Caye, and also a rare (for Belize) Wunderman’s heron (a hybrid/morph of the great blue heron) He is recovering well and on his way to release soon. Waterbird season was generally quiet too with only 8 fish-eaters getting into difficulties and coming our way. Oh - and THE cutest pale-billed woodpecker ever!

The parrot license programme continues, and owners seem to be developing a better understanding of parrot care, diet and behaviour of their birds licensed under this ‘’grandfather law’ initiative.  Generally speaking, the Belizean public are beginning to realise that these birds are better off in the wild in Belize, flying free for everyone to enjoy. Having said that, yesterday we took in 5 baby yellowheads as part of our at-risk chick hand-rearing programme. They have been removed from the nest under the guidance of rangers and researchers to safeguard them from being trampled in over-crowded nests, and from nests outside of the protection range that are habitually poached. They will be raised and eventually re-released into the protected areas.

The best news at BBR – we released 40 white-front parrots and 14 red lords here at the Sanctuary. Two red lored pairs and three white-front pairs are now occupying our nest boxes. We are very excited at the prospect of being grandparents. Keep your eye on our Facebook page for updates of our novice parent’s efforts.

Thank you all once again for your support and please feel free to drop us a line and ask any questions about how we are spending your money. If you would like, please review our Facebook page, write a comment on our website, or recommend us to a friend who may also like to donate to the organisation.

Very best regards to you and have a wonderful weekend!

Nikki & the BBR Team

wunderman's heron
wunderman's heron
Barn owl babies
Barn owl babies
Elbert Greer's photo of the great horned owl
Elbert Greer's photo of the great horned owl
Pale Billed woodpecker
Pale Billed woodpecker

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Organization Information

Belize Bird Rescue

Location: Belmopan, Cayo - Belize
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @BirdBelize
Project Leader:
Nicola Buxton
Belmopan, Cayo Belize
$50,725 raised of $55,000 goal
 
983 donations
$4,275 to go
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