My experience as an Ara Manzanillo Volunteer

THE BIG RELEASE
January 28, 2020
 

It was impossible to foresee when I came to the Ara Project on September 1st that I would be confronted with the cleaning and refurbishing of the macaw’s artificial nests. However, the birds could hardly wait any longer and were inspecting the nest boxes while still in the trees with all the risks associated with the impacts from the past breeding season. Normally, mating starts in late November into early December. Likely due to the premature flowering of the mountain almond trees this year, the Great Green Macaws also became early starters and so we had to act
very quickly.

A few of the 50-gallon barrels were already taken down and located at the project field station. Step one was then to remove everything from inside, i.e. dirty coconut fibers, small pieces of wood chewed up by the prior lovebirds and much more. The second step was to evaluate possible improvements and the use of metal chains inside was reconsidered, which had served as a climbing aid for the fledgling chicks to reach the entry and exit hole from within the depths of the cavity. We replaced them with new ladders cut out of wood scraps, which in turn had to be attached to the plastic barrel with wires. So… measure, punch holes, drill and push wires through the holes, twist it together and hammer it flat.

Also, the entry and exit holes needed renewal because the wood located in front of and over the plastic entry had to be replaced. For this, we had to find two pieces of wood of the same size and saw out two identical circles. We then, of course, attached the boards with screws onto the inside and out of the barrel. Last but not least, the long screws were cut down and, if necessary, new holes were drilled for adequate drainage at the bottom of the nest box.

Before the nests were raised onto the trees, while on the ground we filled them again with fresh coconut fiber and small pieces of wood to chew for hormone activation for breeding. But the real challenge for me remains the hoisting of these heavy 50-gallon nest drums onto the trees and then attaching them at a height 20-30 meters!