This photograph was taken by Rodnick Biljon (King William’s Town’s “Cape parrot whisperer”) under 24 hours ago… For the 11 weeks this young female Cape parrot has been stuck in this same tree, recovering from a debilitating beak and feather disease infection that destroyed her flight feathers and ripped out most of her down feathers. It is an absolute miracle that she has survived so long in the middle of King William’s Town (South Africa), having pushed through bitterly cold weather and the constant threat of predation. We called her “Lady Grey” after a nearby village that her flock from the Stutterheim area would have flown over in search of food in 2011 when drought hit the region. They were making 300 mile round trips from their mountain strongholds every day in search of food. Some parrots like “Lady Grey” just could not keep up! PLEASE SEND YOUR BEST WISHES TO THIS BRAVE CAPE PARROT THAT NEEDS YOUR SUPPORT IN REAL TIME!!!
Rodnick Biljon discovered her in late July when he saw her flying overhead in a flock he monitors for the Cape Parrot Project. A few days later he found her in the wild plum tree she is still in today. At some point towards the end of July she had glided down from the mountains and discovered that she could not possibly fly back, crippled by beak and feather disease and under attack due to her depleted immune system. Rodnick has been photographing the Cape parrots of King William’s Town for over 6 years, spending most of his time with the parrots. He has been with this brave hen for most of the 11 weeks and his special whistle visibly comforts her. As you can see on 18 August, she was very tired and needed a safe place to fight this debilitating disease. She has been silent and invisible green for almost three months and it seems to be working… She still needs to gain a lot of weight and flight will probably not be possible within the next month or two. Do we intervene now after so long or risk another month?
“Lady Grey” has now cleared most of the wild plums from half of the tree and is eating regularly. She has no access to water and has to rely on the fruits. We are contemplating the erection of a water trough in the tree… Every week we discuss the possibility of catching her and rehabilitating her for release back into the wild. We have done this successfully with Cape parrots that could not even support their own body weight. See this National Geographic video for that story: http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/specials/in-the-field-specials/boyes-cape-parrot/ Every week we decide to prepare for a capture, but let her carry on doing it herself… If she pulls this off, she would have achieved something truly amazing that gives us hope for the future. These little parrots can hunker down and fight this disease! With less than 1,000 remaining in the wild and beak and feather disease outbreak ripping through all remaining populations, we could be held up to judgement if she dies before being able to fly free again. Something happening to our impressive “Lady Grey” is a constant threat looming over us…
Please post your comments of whether we should intervene and rehabilitate this endangered parrot or give her every chance to recover naturally in the wild? There is no doubt that Cape parrots are endangered because human beings destroyed their natural habitat by removing most of the large hardwoods for commercial timber. When do we take responsibility for our actions or is it most responsible to leave nature to its own devices? How do we best serve the Cape parrot, Africa’s most endangered parrot and ambassadors of the decimated Afromontane yellowwood forests they depend upon?
Please also join the Cape Parrot Project group on Facebook:
This is the largest parrot conservation group on Facebook and will keep you up-to-date on developments with “Lady Grey”… Some beautiful photographs by Rodnick Biljon from earlier in the year…
We urgently require further funding for the testing of Cape parrot for Pssitacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD) and the development of mechanisms to fight outbreaks in the wild population. The Wild Bird Trust, Conservation International, Percy FitzPatrick Institute, Hans Hoheisen Charitable Trust, Abax Investments, and Mazda Wildlife Fund are planting thousands upon thousands of indigenous trees and erecting hundreds of nest boxes for Cape parrots in the Amathole mountains. Please help us continue this important research and community-based conservation work by donating to the Cape Parrot Project via the World Parrot Trust: http://www.parrots.org/capes/
MUST SEE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC VIDEO ON CAPE PARROT PROJECT: