Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Of Crows and Macaws

In Malaysian towns, it is fairly common to hear the raucous caws of glossy black birds. 

These are the house crows (Scientific name: Corvus splendens) – definitely, not our favorite birds since they are scavengers, feeding on refuse found among human habitations. 

But in Caracas, Venezuela’s capital – we have wild macaws zigzagging the city’s skies. 

The birds’ plumage is a striking palette that runs from reds, blues and greens to yellows or oranges. 

These gregarious birds live incongruously from terrace to TV antenna, from roof to ledge to palm tree, from which they set out on noisy individual and flock flights. Indeed, a colourful sight to behold. 

It’s unknown how they arrived in this city of six million people. But many experts think they were introduced by animal traffickers or that they could have escaped from captivity in homes. 

Regardless, Caracas is not their natural habitat; macaws are at home in the wild – anywhere between southern Mexico and northern Argentina. 

Macaw, the common name of about eighteen species of New World parrots, belong to the genera Ara, Anodorhynchus, Cyanopsitta, Primolius, Orthopsittaca, and Diopsittaca in the family Psittacidae. 

The Ara araurana (left), clad in blue and yellow feathers, is the most commonly found in the city. 

You can also spot Ara chloropterus (red and green), Ara macao (yellow, blue and red) and Ara severus (red and blue). 

Ara chloropterus

Ara macao

Ara severus

Biologist Diego Diaz tells AFP it’s actually best to avoid direct contact with these birds “because they end up being a kind of pet, dependent on human beings”. 

But faced with unavoidable proximity, veterinarians suggest they could be fed fruit, vegetables or sunflower seeds, but never processed foods such as cookies, which is what they get in many houses. 

Wouldn’t it be nice if the crows can exchange places with the macaws?

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