Photo: Ryan and Duaro refurbishing the flight aviary at Manzanillo field station.
About two and a half years ago I first became involved in The Ara Project. Their mission to reintroduce the magnificent Great Green Macaw back into the wild, combined with an already biodiverse layer of forest that slopes down to the Caribbean Sea, ensured that I would keep coming back. I had been living in San José, Cost Rica for approximately two years when I first heard about the project while involved in Conservation projects and teaching English, when I decided that I could not pass up the opportunity to collaborate, spending every couple of weekends to help the indigenous local guide develop his English language skills. As I learned more about the Ara Project in Manzanillo I offered more general support. I found it soothing to leave the noise and bustle of San José and be transported to the Caribbean Sea breeze. But it was the site and the mission of the project, to help these large colorful Great Greens repopulated to restore a viable flock once again, that kept me determined to remain as a part of what is now Ara Manzanillo. During my time with Ara Manzanillo, I’ve met the passionate staff and volunteers who’ve come to assist with and study the macaws, spent time with the original founders of the Manzanillo site learning more about their mission, and seen the successes of the project first hand. From the first hatchling turned juvenile, whose squawks from a near distant tree sounded triumphantly, I knew I had found something
special. And when I visited the site this last month to see that fourteen had made it out of the nest boxes and aviary, I confirmed that this project was capable of great success. Watching these giant Great Green macaws, whose bodies almost seem too heavy for the air, soar with each other through the trees, and over a valley, passing by the lookout to the sea, I knew I had stumbled on something magical.