HONDURAS’ NATIONAL BIRD IS MAKING A COMEBACK thanks to Davidson, an American expat whose fortuitous path led him to restoring free-flying populations of the scarlet macaw. From his early Bay Islands adventures as a young dive instructor to owning a commercial fishing business on Roatán, he came into rescuing parrots and spearheading conservation efforts in the “Sacred Valley of the Scarlet Macaw” near Copán Ruinas.
For American Airlines Nexos Magazine, Davidson explains, “Lo Que Hago” (what I do)
The beginnings: Quite unintentionally, I inherited a motley collection of birds, including macaws, whose owners had left the island or could no longer keep them as pets. To offset feeding expenses I opened a small bird park, and the number of rescues continued to grow. Eventually I quit the fishing business and moved to Copán to develop a bigger project for the park, where visitors now enjoy our large aviaries and nature trails.
Daily work: Our small team cares for more than 250 birds, many which come to us in poor health or have been confiscated in illegal wildlife trade. In the last decade, Macaw Mountain has evolved as a rescue/rehabilitation center to include educational programs and reintroduction of macaws into the wild, where populations have severely dwindled. I work closely with World Parrot Trust, Honduran government agencies and local organizations to develop our release programs and outreach initiatives.
Rescue, Rehabilitate, Reproduce, Release: We’ve had nine releases, totaling about 110 macaws, and most important – in all locations there are known reproducing pairs raising offspring each year. We want to promote our how-to model for the 4Rs, which we believe can be implemented in other parts of Honduras and Central America. We’re exploring possible projects on Roatán, which could provide ecotourism activities for cruise ship passengers and signify the first Caribbean island with free-flying macaws.
The birds: Macaws are symbolic in the Mayan culture as reflected in the elegant carvings at Copán Archeological Park, so it’s fitting that our first release took place at this World Heritage site. The flyover is flashy and breathtaking; watching a flock is an experience you don’t forget. We’re poised to build on our momentum and it’s my hope that the scarlet macaw becomes a symbol to promote related conservation projects. http://www.macawmountain.org/en/home/
Spanish and Portuguese versions of this article appear in American Airlines August 2019 issue of Nexos Magazine