This week´s been full of contacts with nature for me. First, the Jellyfish Exposition at L´Oceanografic Valencia and the peace of the sea, and now the colorful magic of Jardin del Papagayo in Benicarlo (Spain): from all the shades of blue to all the colors of the rainbow.
Jardin del Papagayo was such a unique experience that it ended making its way to my Top 10 Places to Visit in The Province of Castellon, Spain.
It would be fair to admit: here, I was having a hard time choosing the best pictures to share with you. All the birds were simply stunning and if I am to publish it all – I should probably switch the main topic of my blog to the bird life. [lol] You´ll understand what I mean once you scroll through this gallery…
About Jardin del Papagayo
After I´ve watched a heart-breaking documentary Eartlings (2005) – my attitude towards zoos has changed. People chasing animals to take pictures or feed them – but can you imagine a place where animals chase tourists? [lol] Well, this is probably the reason this place was so different from anything I´ve ever experienced. Therefore, really worth sharing…
Since my very first minute at Jardin del Papagayo I felt like the birds were having a blast. Not only did they allow you to touch and feed them – they were fighting for this attention. By the entrance, you could buy pipes to feed them, which I was not interested in doing. But after a random bird shamelessly jumped on my shoulder and gave me this “where-is-my-food” look – I went back for the pipes.
As one of the local guides explained to us: they are all grown up with people and used to interact with staff and visitors of Jardin del Papagayo a lot. So, not only aren´t these birds afraid of people, they love being around humans, expect and adore their attention.
I´ve never had direct contact with a parrot before, therefore never realized these birds were that smart. From their eyes, you could literally read their emotions. Some of them were making sounds to bring your attention or to express their joy or irritation with your actions, while others were clearly posing for me, while I was taking pictures.
Congo African Grey
“I´m gorgeous and I know it”
I never realized how much the macaws enjoy climbing: much more than flying. They are known as the giants of the parrot world, having long tail feathers as well as big beaks. Their large, curved beaks are quite powerful and are designed to crack open hard nuts and seeds. But you could see on the pictures how they use it as a climbing tool. Macaws are native to the southern part of North America (Mexico), Central America and South America. Everything about them is big and colorful, however, their personalities are surprisingly soft, friendly and sensitive.
Blue and gold macaws in the wild are monogamous, meaning they mate for life. And they can live from 30 to 50 years. Macaws are quite playful, however, even from brief contact with them, you could notice they are very intelligent birds. Macaws can be taught to talk and they might also be inclined to whistle or to imitate sounds and noises they hear inside and outside.
This blue-and-yellow macaw was particularly playful. At first, I was a bit scared, cause I saw it was clearly trying to bite me. Once the bird noticed I was afraid, it´s immediately switched to my husband and kept a distance from me: limiting our interaction to simply taking the pipes. While with my husband the macaw was really having fun. He would just approach his hand with pipes and the bird would climb all the way up to his shoulder. After a while, I realized this macaw enjoyed making us both laugh.
With this beak, it could actually do some real harm, but instead, the bird was seating on my husbands´ shoulder all the time, playfully biting his ear, which was more of a tickling. I haven´t laughed so hard in a long time. And yet I couldn´t believe these birds were so smart: they immediately identified me as “the least fun of the group” and if it wouldn´t be for the pipes, they’d probably, ignored me at all. On the other hand, my husband was their absolute favorite ( he also adores animals, by the way). Even though not all of the birds were ready to sit on his shoulder (and here you´d clearly notice their different personalities) they were openly preferring his company. Food was the least important factor in their actions.
When you google the place, it shows you people typically spend 3 h inside the park. Which I thought in our case would be 1,5 h maximum. And guess what ?! We´ve spent 4,5 h and I would definitely go back one day. Simply because seeing birds behind the bars is always more or less the same, but interacting with them depends on so many factors that it´s a whole new experience every time.