This week´s been full of contacts with nature for me. First, the Jellyfish Exposition (Read more…) 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 rainbow. And I should admit, with the last one 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…
Jardin del Papagayo
After I´ve watched a heart-breaking documentary Eartlings (2005) – my attitude towards zoos has changed. And I never thought I would write a whole post about visiting one. Normally we, people, are chasing animals there to take pictures, feed or interact – so can you imagine a zoo where animals chase tourists? [lol] This is probably a reason this place was so different to anything I´ve ever experienced. Therefore, really worth sharing…
To my surprise, at Jardin del Papagayo I felt like the birds were having a blast. Not only did they alow 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 zoo´s workers a lot. Moreover, as parrots are so intelligent – they recognize them immediately. So, not only aren´t these birds afraid of people, they love being around humans, expect and adore their attention.
So far, I´ve never had a direct contact with a parrot: I´ve seen them in cages – that´s it. And I´ve never realized these birds were that smart. From their eyes you could 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 a 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 immidiaty 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 should 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 was simply enjoying it when we two laughed. 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 favorite, and even though not all 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 behind 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.