In these troubling times, it is such a respite to get a glimpse of beauty. Aliya Hosein (member of BirdsCaribbean’s Media Working Group) shares about her recent trip to Saint Vincent to learn more about the breathtaking endemic St. Vincent parrot. Hosein is leader of the Welfare and Wildlife Program at the Centre for the Rescue of Endangered Species of Trinidad and Tobago. Here are excerpts; see full post at BirdsCaribbean.
I recently enjoyed an exciting trip to St. Vincent and the Grenadines. I spent nine days on this wonderful, mountainous island; and I can certainly say that St. Vincent Parrots (Amazona guildingii), flying over the lush ridges at Jennings Valley, was the most memorable sight of all.
I spent months preparing for this trip. I carefully planned lodging and flights and made endless calls to my friend Cathlene Trumpet, who is a Forestry Officer with over fifteen years of service to the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Forestry Department. Among the questions I asked her were “Who sells the best burgers and donuts on the island?” and “Where should I go to see the parrots?” Then it was time to leave Trinidad and fly towards my adventure.
Cathlene and I met through the Conservation Leadership in the Caribbean (CLiC) Fellowship Program. For 18 months we worked on an intense, sometimes hilarious, and occasionally scary project on the illegal trade in Blue and Gold Macaws in Trinidad. I remember being in awe as Cathlene related stories about the national campaign to build pride among Vincentians for their endemic parrot. Later, I flipped through my “Parrots of the World” book to find a picture of it.
In the past the St. Vincent Parrot, locally called the Vincy Parrot, was targeted for the local and international pet bird trade because of its beauty and rarity. Although St. Vincent and the Grenadines is made up of over 32 major islands, the St. Vincent Parrot is found only on the mainland of St. Vincent. Poaching and hurricanes, from colonial times to the present day, are still significant threats to the parrot’s habitat. These pressures have resulted in it being listed as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, and in Appendix I by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). It is estimated that there are only 850 St. Vincent Parrots in the wild.
This parrot lives in the upper west and east ridges of Mount Soufriere (La soufriere) at elevations between 125 to 1,000m. It is a large parrot, certainly larger than the Orange-winged Amazon (Amazona amazonica) I am used to seeing in Trinidad. About 40 cm long, it is mostly bronze-brown, multi-colored with yellowish white, blue and green head, greenish-bronze upperparts. It has grey feet, reddish eye, and violet blue-green wings. Its tail feathers are centrally banded violet-blue with broad yellow tips. Two morphs exist: a yellow-brown morph and a less common green morph. Male and female birds are similar. The parrot feeds on the flowers, nuts, fruits and seeds of many plants such as Ficus, Clusia and Cecropia. [. . .]
[Photo above by Nandani Bridglal: St Vincent Parrot.]