Macaw Mountain: Tropical Birds Galore
Years ago, I saw an ad for Macaw Mountain in a travel magazine. The short description of the place made me look for more information. I discovered a park and reserve, full of macaws and parrots, located close to the Copan Mayan Ruins in Honduras. I said to myself: “I would like to go there”.
I don’t know if we are meant to go to some places. Maybe our brain works hard on making possible a visit to places that capture our full attention. I am not sure how processes work together to materialize an experience. However, at the beginning of the year I ended up visiting Macaw Mountain, the place that looked so far and impossible initially.
Who is not fascinated by macaws and parrots? These birds can live up to 100 years; (many) mate for life and exhibit attractive, bright colors.
The birds in this park are rescued or donated. Since many of the birds have been bred or held in captivity for a long time, their chances for survival in the wild are minimal (some are not even native to Central America). Also, we have to take into consideration how pet trade and habitat destruction are serious threats for these animals.
In the park, you can learn about different species, contribute to their well being and participate in breed programs. The birds are housed, cared and fed taking the highest standards into consideration. They have large enclosures surrounded by trees and have a diet similar to what they would eat in the wild. Seriously, personnel treat some of these birds like babies (they are given a lot of attention). Some parrots are more spoiled than a 5 year old.
These are the national birds of Honduras. Nevertheless, this type of macaw has been greatly threatened in the Copan Valley and other parts of Honduras. The park and other organizations have breeding programs aimed at the repopulation of the valley. An initial group of macaws resulting from the different programs have been released and can be seen hanging in the trees at the Copan Ruins.
The park has a large aviary where you can enter and admire more than 20 Scarlet Macaws. When I visited, some of the released macaws where resting over the aviary.
Other Macaws and Parrots
Like the name implies, macaws and parrots are the predominate species in the park. Each enclosure has information about each type. I recommend you tour the park with a guide (no extra cost for this but tips are appreciated). You can walk around by yourself but I believe the information provided by the guide adds a lot to the experience. Each bird has different habits and it is interesting to hear how they are different from others. Below I show you some of the birds I saw (I think I got the names correctly).
Other species like owls, toucans and hawks can be observed. Since the park is laid out in a natural setting (full of trees, a creek passes thru it), local birds stop by at any time. In fact, the Copan Valley is a bird lover’s paradise. About 330 bird species have been spotted in the area (including the park and nearby farms).
You also want a guide because you want to pose with the birds. I was really looking forward to this part.
I started by holding a parrot in the café area.
Then, I went for the real challenge: the big macaws.
You know, this is not as easy or relaxing as you may think. First, the macaws are really heavy. Holding one is fine but when it is not easy to extend your arms and keep them high when you are balancing three.
Second, they like to “play”. In their case, play means bite. I got nervous when the guide mentioned they can snap a finger with no effort (their beaks can apply a force equivalent of 70 to 80 pounds). The next photo shows my weird facial gesture when a scarlet macaw was biting my fingers. The guide gave him a twig to deviate the attention. That same macaw literally destroyed one of the sleeves of my husband shirt.
The park has a restaurant and gift shop. There are also trails, a natural pool and gardens. You can stay an entire day in the area if you want.
Have you been to Macaw Mountain? Let me know in the comments section below.