Monday, February 10, 2014

Rio The Gentle Giant

Welcome to this very special blog!  There are around 350 species of parrots in the world and I'm going to give you some insight about a very extraordinary parrot species and individual parrot!

Rio, is this bird’s name and he is a Green-winged Macaw (Ara chloroptera).  These are very colorful parrots that can be found throughout Central and South America, more specifically Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guiana, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Venezuela, and Suriname.  The type of terrain inhabited by this species includes mangrove swamps, savannas, and tropical forests. 

Throughout their native land these beautiful and colorful birds feed on nuts, seeds, vegetables, flowers, and fruits.  Some fruits they eat are poisonous but they can eat them without being harmed because they also eat river clay to neutralize the toxins in the fruits. 

Green-winged Macaws are the second largest macaws, eclipsed only by the Hyacinth Macaw.  Green-wings weigh up to three and half pounds and are about three feet in length.  Their great size gives them a wingspan of around four feet long!  Males and females are not sexually dimorphic, meaning that both sexes look identical.  The only way to determine their sex is from DNA sexing.  Rio has not been sexed so we do not know if Rio is a male or female.  I tend to see Rio more as a male because I have heard and witnessed that male parrots tend to bond more strongly to women than men and vice versa with female parrots. 
Parrots in general have a longer lifespan than domestic animals such as dogs and cats.  Green-winged Macaws can live up to 60 years in the wild and possibly longer in captivity.  Rio was hatched in 1996, so he is 17 years old this year.  These macaws are also known as the Red and Green Macaw, Green Wing Macaw, and the Gentle Giant.  These beautiful parrots have green, blue, and red plumage (feather color).  Below you can see a picture of Rio on my leg.
Rio is a very lovable parrot . . . towards certain people…like me.  Some parrots bond to some people better than others.  I have been interested in parrots since I was 12 years old and have had my own parrots including Budgerigars (budgies) and a Green-cheeked Conure.  When I met Rio I was drawn to him right away because of his beautiful colors and his curious personality.  A few things that I just love about parrots are that they are intelligent, can see colors (like we humans, where many other mammals see only black and white) and also in another color that humans cannot see.  Also, they can mimic sounds and words so well that people can understand. 

Rio came to the World Bird Sanctuary in 2002.  He loves to compete with loud noises such as the vacuum cleaner.  Rio is trained to give kisses on command, say, “Hi, Rio!” and, “Hello.”  His best talent, which he shows off for World Bird Sanctuary audiences, is his free flying!  He has flown from trainer to trainer at various Zoos in World Bird Sanctuary Zoo Shows during the summer to help educate people about parrots.  He is a great ambassador for his species and for the World Bird Sanctuary, and I love him very much!

Rio is available for adoption in our Adopt a Bird program.  To find out more information, click on the preceding link or call 636-861-3225.  All adoption donations are tax deductible.  This winter he can usually be seen in the Nature Center at the World Bird Sanctuary, which is open daily from 8am-5pm.

Rio is a very intriguing parrot; you should stop on by and visit him!

Submitted by Lisbeth Hodges, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist


Donald W.E. DAVIS said...

Yes green wings can see colour. However I would like to point out they see a much wider range of colour than we mammals. Parrots have four rods one of which is bifurcated. In effect this gives them five rods to our three. They see into the UV spectrum. If you live with parrots and are observant you will realize their view through glass is not obstructed by reflections as ours. D.D. is.

Photog said...

Donald, thank you for your explanation of the extraordinary vision possessed by Macaws. I believe that their ability to see the UV spectrum is what Lisbeth referred to but chose not to go into for the sake of brevity in her blog. They are indeed amazing animals.