June 5, 2012 @ 4:00 PM

Feathers in Costa Rica

I sit down to write on the next to last day of our journey to the Pacific coast of Costa Rica.  Trips like this are always bittersweet.  I miss my flock and know they miss me as well.  However, I am fortunate to have a good friend that is caregiver while I’m away.  She loves them well and will spend time interacting with them as she attends their daily needs. 

My husband and I are avid animal lovers and have a fascination with the flora, fauna, animals and the birds of Costa Rica.  The scenery is a vast deviation from the Midwest and we enjoy the multiplicity of its people as well. 

Costa Rica is home to a rich variety of plants and animals. While the country has only about 0.25% of the world's landmass, it contains 5% of the world's biodiversity.  As a whole, around 700 species of birds have been identified in Costa Rica! Our hope on this trip was to see parrots in their natural habitat but unfortunately, the only parrots spotted were green Parakeets.  While writing this, a flock flies overhead.  You can hear them approaching in the distance…a faint chatter that reaches a deafening crescendo as they fly past.  Their sound reminds me of my two male parrotlets with their constant chattering, bickering and playing.  We noted that they numbered anywhere from 10 to 50 Parakeets in flocks, sometimes joining more of their species at a favored Guanacaste tree. 

There have been moments of sadness this past week.  We are in a country that has a different perspective on the treatment of domestic animals.  Ticans love their country and have the deepest respect for its wildlife.  Nevertheless, I can’t help feel the pain and suffering that I’ve seen on the faces of wild dogs that roam freely in the towns and beaches.  I’ve seen too many malnourished dogs….down to skin and bones, infected with disease and walking listlessly on the streets in search of food. 

I spent many nights with worry about a beautiful Amazon we came across in the heart of the local village.  He sits outside a restaurant.  His cage was too small, only one small perch, no toys, no food and water bowls and no shelter from the heavy rains that pelt the area during the rainy season.  My heart was breaking while the waiter, in broken English, says, “He can talk!”  My husband pulled me away….saying what he always says to me…We can’t save them all!  Yes, unfortunately, we are guest in their country and I must be respectful and try to understand their indifference is not from lack of caring…more from lack of knowledge and the availability of services we have in the US.

The next day I spoke with the proprietor of our hotel.  He is sympathetic to the plight of companion pets in Costa Rica.  He says he is seeing progress in the right direction, though, with the soon-to-be established spay and neuter clinics throughout the country.  I try to hold on to that thought and hope that the poor Amazon is taken in at night to a large cage, with plenty of nourishment and an owner that loves him dearly.  The hotel owner had expressed interest in getting a bird for the hotel lobby so I gently urged him to visit the Amazon to see if the owner might be willing to relinquish him.  I suggested adopting in any case, whether the Amazon or any parrot.  He promised he would look for him (Amazon) and see what he could do.  I trust him to do so…

We took the time to visit a wildlife rescue where the single owner/caretaker is passionate in her attempts to rescue, re-habilitate and release injured and confiscated animals back to the wild (whenever possible).  I applaud her efforts with the meager means she has of support.  For those of us who have adopted animals we can understand her dedication.  She is one of many that support the rescue and public education concerning the care of Costa Rica animal inhabitants.  We have been to a Sloth Sanctuary, a Baboon Sanctuary and other smaller rescues throughout this country and appreciate their hard, sometimes thankless work.    

I am longing to fly back to my own flock. I wonder if companion birds inherently know and ache for free flight like their wild counterparts.  I make a vow to open their doors more often to allow them their safe freedom when I arrive home.   

I hope I will have the opportunity and means to return to Latin American.  The beauty, the wildlife, and the welcoming people make for memorable trips.  I will end this note as I watch a pair of Great Kiskadees dancing and singing among the banana and palm trees outside my room.  This morning they sent their brood from the nest and the fledglings have taken their first flights into the wild.  I tranquilly watch the new family flutter about the forest as I contemplate preparations for our own flight back to our nest in Indiana.