I am not a birder, but I love watching the little creatures, especially in their native habitat. Imagine then, how happy I was to discover Macaw Mountain Bird Park and Nature Reserve just outside of Copan, Honduras.
The facility boasts native Honduran macaws, breeds from South America like the blue and gold, and green winged macaws, a variety of parrots, and several varieties of the colorful toucan.
Some of these birds were former pets donated to the park. Others were living in the wild, but in danger of being killed by upset farmers for eating their crops. Many Wagner, a North American and conservationist, began the project in the 1980s.
The park is an amazing experience. Trails weave through a tropical landscape of old growth forest with lush local flora and fauna. The area is actually a canyon formed by Sesesmil Creek that provides water to the town.
Most of the birds are kept in large eco-friendly aviaries where the birds can fly freely and climb branches. The first aviary I encountered had 10 or more scarlet macaws, the national bird of Honduras. It was exhilarating to be so close to these colorful, magnificent creatures.
They were only an appetizer for my bird feasting eyes. After passing by other species, like the green wing and blue macaws native to South America, and local birds of prey such as hawks and owls, I came upon the main course, an open area where dozens of macaws, parrots and toucans perched for tourists’ delight.
I had always wanted to see a toucan in the wild and there it was! Not only one, but two colorful, large beaked toucans. My dream had come true. I was up close and personal with a wild toucan.
All of the birds in this observation area are friendly. The macaws perch on visitors’ arms with the assistance of a handler. The other parrots, fluffed and preened, squawked and whistled.
This was a photographer and bird lover’s paradise. I snapped away, grateful that my camera was a digital one with lots of space, and not film.
Macaw Mountain Bird Park and Nature Reserve is a labor of love. To help preserve these magnificent birds is truly a gift to the next generation, not to mention the current one.
To lean more about Macaw Mountain Bird Park and Nature Reserve, visit their website at: www.macawmountain.com
By GLORIA J. MASCHMEYER