As many of you know protection of wildlife is very important in Belize and Education goes hand in hand with that. We must join together and help educate children – adults and anyone who visits Belize about the value of our precious wildlife and ecosystems so that we keep the natural beauty of Belize intact. Thanks to Colette of Be kind Belize and the Belize Bird Rescue for providing the following information about Parrots.
Be Kind Belize Parrot Fact Sheet
Is it illegal to own a parrot in Belize?
Yes, unless you have a license. In Belize, it is illegal to own any species of indigenous wildlife without a license. The law protecting wildlife in Belize is called the Wildlife Protection Act of Belize.
What is the problem with keeping parrots as pets?
Firstly, almost all parrots kept as pets in Belize were stolen or poached from the wild illegally. To stop this illegal trade in Belizean wildlife it is important that we do not participate by buying or keeping the birds. Poaching is one of the main reasons our wildlife in Belize is disappearing. Secondly, most people don’t know how to care for parrots correctly. They are highly intelligent and social birds and need constant companionship and stimulation. Keeping them in a small cage with no companionship for long periods is very cruel. Remember, that to get that parrot as a pet, the nest is destroyed. Very few survive and even if they do, they end up having a short and miserable life in a cage. Very few parrots in Belize live past the age of 10 although they should live for over 50 years.
Why do we have to protect the parrots?
The yellow-headed parrot is now endangered, and yet hundreds of chicks are stolen every year in Belize for the pet trade. Blue-headed parrots are likely to become endangered soon and many others will be threatened before long if the poaching continues. Talk to your elders and ask them how many parrots there used to be in Belize. The change is huge and is partly due to loss of habitat. We have to stop chopping down our rainforests and stop stealing their eggs if we want our grandchildren to be able to see parrots in the wild. Also, imagine how much tourism Belize would gain if we had a healthy population of parrots living in our rainforests.
What do I do if someone tries to sell me a baby parrot?
Remember what you have learned here. So the first thing is that what they are doing is illegal. Also, consider that anyone who would be willing to raid a nest and steal baby birds does not love Belize and does not love wildlife as the nest will have been destroyed and several parrots probably died in the process.
Anyone who buys a baby parrot like this is, in effect, buying stolen goods. But these goods are the wonderful nature of Belize being stolen from our children’s future.
You can do the right thing and report the person to the Forestry Department on 501 822 1524.
How many species of parrot are there in Belize?
There are 11 species in total. Some are unique subspecies, which is even more of a reason we need to protect them.
Ara Macao (Scarlet Macaw)
(the following three are closely related)
Amazona Oratrix or Yellow-headed Amazon (endangered)
Amazona Ochrocephala (subspecies belizensis) (Yellow-crowned Amazon)
Amazona Auropalliata (yellow-naped Amazon – a visitor to Belize)
Amazona Farinosa (Mealy or blue-head Parrot)
Amazona Autumnalis (Red-lored or yellow-cheek parrot)
Amazona Xantholora (Yellow-lored Amazon)
Pionus Senilis (white-capped or white-headed parrot)
Amazona Albifrons (white-fronted parrot)
Pionopsitta Haematotis (Brown-hooded parrot)
Aratinga nana (Aztec or Olive-throated parakeet)
I’ve heard that people have to cut their parrot’s wings so that they don’t fly away.
If wing clipping is necessary, it is very important to get proper advice as doing it incorrectly can permanently injure the bird. If you cut the wrong feather, the bird could actually bleed to death. Contact Belize Bird Rescue on 501 822 1145 for advice on how to cut wings safely.
What size should a parrot cage be?
According to those who love parrots and want to see them in the wild, every cage is too small and no cage is too big. The size of cage depends on the size of the bird, whether or not his wings are clipped, whether he’s indoors or outdoors, whether or not you socialize with your bird and how many birds there are in the cage.
As a guideline, a red lored, inside the house with clipped wings could be reasonably happy with a cage 3′ x 3′ x 3′ provided he had time outside the cage every day and plenty of toys to occupy him. The same bird kept permanently outside, without his wings cut will need a flight cage of at least 6′ x 6′ x 10′ long to retain his sanity, and even that is not a given. (10’x10’x10′ would be much better)
You will need to think carefully about what to make your cage out of – a bored parrot will demolish wood, plastic or bamboo in a few weeks. The mesh size needs to be appropriate for the size of bird. Chicken wire is totally unsuitable as the mesh is too small for parakeets and white-fronteds, and too flimsy for anything bigger. Consider using an existing structure, for instance a wall of your house, as one side of your cage.
Special thanks to Belize Bird Rescue from which this fact sheet was adapted.