The Story of Carrot and Jupiter

Newsletter: Breeding Season 2024
May 3, 2024

Breeding Season 2024: What a Time!

Ara Manzanillo has been blessed this 2024 breeding season to welcome four precious chicks to our reintroduced, free-flying Caribbean population: Barbosa, Namü, Carrot, and Jupiter. This year held unique circumstances; as the mountain almond trees yielded plentiful nuts until late April, influencing the Great Green Macaws' nesting habits and to allow for later egg-laying than usual.

We have been fortunate to watch the two older chicks, Barbosa and Namü, fledge. The proud parents are in full care mode: grooming, feeding, teaching to fly - and more importantly to gracefully land! As you can imagine, the flittering around the station has been a joy to witness.

We've had experience hand-raising chicks in the past, deepening our admiration for the natural parenting abilities of macaws. However, this year brought a flashback to those experiences with Carrot and Jupiter.

The Story of Carrot and Jupiter

Amidst the season's successes, the nesting pair Ronnie and Rocket posed a unique challenge. Their offspring, Carrot and Jupiter, hatched with a 10-day age difference, resulting in a significant size difference. Despite Jupiter's pleas for sustenance, being less developed, sibling Carrot was more successful in demanding parental nourishment.

Unfortunately, natural selection urges parents to invest food resources to the larger, healthier chick. Macaw parents can overcome the size disparity when chicks are closer in age, however in this case, our team feared there was too large of a gap to overcome.

Recognizing the potential risks to Jupiter's survival, we intervened to provide specialized care for Carrot, allowing Ronnie and Rocket to focus their resources on nurturing Jupiter.

Under the dedicated care of our team, Carrot received a hand-feeding regimen every two hours. Meanwhile, we monitored Jupiter inside the nest, ensuring regular feedings from the parents. Jupiter’s crop remained full of nutrient-rich mountain almonds, promoting growth and the chance Jupiter’s parents would see the chick as viable, and continue to feed even after Carrot was reunited.

Five days into Carrot’s nurturing, an unforeseen, very unique challenge arose…

Botflies are a disgusting insect that lay eggs under an animal’s skin to reproduce. As if Jupiter had not faced enough hardship, the chick had an inflamed (mountainous) botfly bite in the middle of its back. The team quickly returned Carrot to the nest and rushed Jupiter to get veternary care at the Jaguar Rescue Center (JRC).

During the two weeks of caring for Jupiter, we visited the veterinarians at JRC five times. The poor chick was tenderly prodded at until the successful removal of the perpetuating infected material.

After numerous feedings, antibiotics, ointments, and loving care, Jupiter’s infection was healed to the point we felt comfortable returning the chick to the nest. It was on the last day outside the nest that I allowed myself to name the baby chick, though I like to think Jupiter named itself.

Jupiter: the God of the Sky, associated with growth, healing, expansion, and miracles. Not to mention the largest planet!
Reuniting the siblings brought mixed emotions, though ultimately was a joyous occasion. There was relief in reuniting the family; though also some concern about parents’ reacceptance of Jupiter, while I selfishly was not missing the messy feedings, nor the messy blankets. After almost 6 hours, we climbed up to the nest again to ensure parents were tending to the chicks, and as one would hope, they were.

We continued daily nest checks for the following week to be certain the adjustment was successful, observing Jupiter’s botfly infection continued to heal; the chicks’ crops remained full; squawks grew increasingly shrill – and everything indicated a healthy nest habitat.

As we continue to monitor the progress of Carrot and Jupiter, especially over the next month until fledging, our commitment remains unwavering to provide the support and resources for the successful reintroduction of a free-flying flock of Great Green Macaws. Ara Manzanillo’s contribution of 110+ free-flying Great Greens will soon increase by two!

Erin Paulson
Ara Manzanillo Admin
erin@aramanzanillo.org