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Friday, July 6, 2012

Saving Costa Rica's Wildlife

Okay, it is just two tiny clay-colored robin chicks that we are helping but still - the yigüirro are the national birds of Costa Rica - so we are playing a small part. Actually, I should be calling them clay-colored thrushes because the name "clay-colored robin" was changed in 2010. Yigüirro is their Costa Rican name.

According to Wikipedia, "in 1977 the Costa Ricans chose the yigüirro as a national symbol (over many much more colorful birds that inhabit the country) due to its strong and melodious song that always comes during the start of the rainy season. In addition, unlike many of the forest songsters of Costa Rica, the present bird has been familiar to the general population since the country's early history, thanks to the species' tendency to live near houses and settlements."

Last week, a palm leaf fell from one of our trees and carried with it to the ground a nest containing two very small robins. They fell out of the nest on the way down and one had the pin feathers on it's back, plus it's tail, pulled right off. The nest was falling apart too.

We reshaped the nest and put it into a round drainage tray from a garden pot, gently replaced the chicks in the nest and considered what to do next.  Note: ugh, wear gloves when handling a nest and baby birds - it and them were teeming with bugs!

Our first thought was to replace the nest from where it had fallen but we realized it was too dangerous to go up the ladder, which was swaying with the palms.

Eureka! Lance had a brilliant idea. He took one of our plastic lawn chairs and wedged it in between the  trunks of five palms and then put the nest on the seat of the chair. Then we tied palm leaves together and tied them to the palm trunks to provide shade and privacy. More shade was achieved with big banana leaves over the top of the chair.

It took a while for mama and papa to locate their babies, as the nest was now lower to the ground and a  few feet away from it's original location.  But find them they did and feeding recommenced. We were worried the fall had mortally injured one or both chicks but they are fine and growing daily. Today I noticed the tail-less chick has started growing a new tail. Both are now covered with fluff instead of pin feathers. They are also standing up, turning around, taking a few hops, picking the bugs out of their bodies, and flapping their teeny little wing stubs.

Lance even cut up plastic bottles and slipped them over the palm trunks so roaming cats would not be able to climb up.  We stroll by quietly now and then and peek in to check the chicks. The parents don't get upset by us and wait until we leave before flying into their high-end bower with worm goodies.

The babies, same day as their accident.

Lawn chair in the palms - can you spot it?

Finished bird condo, built to specs. The parents fly in and out near the chair seat.


Photolera Claudinha said...

What a great story. You and Lance are perfect fosters and carpenters! I read somewhere that school children selected these unassuming birds over their flashier cousins as the National Bird. Very nice, I think, and so typically Costa Rican.

Diana said...

Thank you, PC. We did not know it was the children of Costa Rica that selected this bird as their National Bird ... and that is why we like Costa Rica so very much.

Anonymous said...

Now I understand your following post about the baby birdies.