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Monday, July 25, 2011

Animal Rescue V:White-throated Magpie-Jay





We have had a small success at Estacion Biologica FUNDECI/GAIA. Our care of a sick, nearly dead White-throated Magpie-Jay (Calocitta formosa), has resulted in a healthy, juvenile feeding on his own, and living as an active part of the forest in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve. The volunteers who took care of him named him Heinz, and it even seems that he responds to his name. Heinz has been the subject of earlier blog entries. But one doesn't have to call him by his name to receive a visit from him. Heinz still makes a habit of dropping in on folks in the dining room without prior warning.
birdwatching Nicaragua Calocitta formosa mariposa
Photo by Anne Sutton.
His gregarious and engaging character is characteristic of his species and of all the birds of the family Corvidae, which includes the crows. Heinz is attracted to people, and also to shiny or colorful objects. He often drops in on someone to steal a pen cap, cigarette lighter, or anything metallic. He readily steals food from unattended plates and now that he is a few months old and independent, he has become so bold as to spar over the beans on one's fork as they are being transported from plate to mouth. He allows and even encourages petting, head-scratching, and all kinds of handling.

Apoyo Cultural Center
Photo by Anne Sutton.
Although one might find his antics entertaining, it is time that he stop visiting us and be a truly wild bird in our forest. Although he still begs for the favorite foods, cooked red beans and dog food pellets, he mostly feeds himself in the wild today. He has already joined a flock and spends most of his day with other birds. We saw him last week with the carcass of another bird, which was a good sign-he is a predator and that is what he is supposed to do, as gruesome as it may appear. He also found a wild pitahaya (Hylocereus costarricensis), an amazing fruit in its own right for humans! He appeared later with red stains all along his face and throat. He is doing fine and soon enough, he will brighten his plumage and begin to mate. 
environmental volunteer Mariposa Nicaragua
Photo by Anne Sutton.
Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve is practically at the southern end of the range of this species, but they are abundant throughout the area. They entertain in the forest, traveling in very vocal social groups, active even in the early afternoon when other birds may be resting. Birdwatchers love them. We have enjoyed Heinz' company, but soon he will be just another hurraca in the forest for us. And of course, there will be yet another animal to save.

Saving Heinz was the work of volunteers at Estacion Biologica, all of whom executed other projects such as reforestation of degraded natural areas while caring for this chick. If you would like to volunteer with us, please let us know.

animal rehabilitation Nicaragua
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