The park’s objectives have evolved as Macaw Mountain moves forward. Over time, it has become a place simply to care for abused birds to become a place to use them to educate and create environmental awareness and develop release program to reintroduce groups of red macaws flying free to the skies of Honduras.
Macaw Mountain has played a leading role in these efforts by providing birds by maximizing their health, and continuing to monitor their progress in freedom. Initiated in the Archaeological Park of Copan, the program now includes a second release site and other projects in other parts of the country in the near future.
Our project continues to evolve and grow primarily in two areas, education and the protection and restoration of parrot populations in various parts of Honduras.
Education. As the park continues to function and attract visitors as an important element of Copan’s sustainable tourism the opportunities to educate will expand. These birds, especially the Scarlet Macaw, can send a strong message of the need for conservation and environmental protection by their very presence and beauty. Preserve these iconic species and their habitat and a host of other important, but perhaps less visible species, are protected as well. We can deliver this message not only during an actual visit here but now with social media there can develop a long term connection both with our clients and their friends. The education effort in the local schools that was a critical part of the “Guaras en Libertad” releases produced not only a surprising amount of protection for the birds, but quickly built cooperation and a sense of pride in the local community.
Protection and Restoration. The five year program to restore an active population of Scarlet Macaws flying freely in the Copan Valley has widely been judged a success both in Copan and now nationally. Macaw Mountain’s partners included the World Parrot Trust, the Copan Association, the Honduran Institute of Anthropology and History, and the Institute of Forest Conservation. The project’s impact has been felt throughout Honduras as people from all parts of the country now see Scarlet Macaws flying about the Ruins. The experience at the archaeological park has been transformed as visitors see and hear these spectacular birds overhead, so closely associated with the world of the Maya. Copan has added a new and unique element of sustainable tourism and we have in the process developed a working model for future macaw rehabilitation and releases.
The initial effort at the Ruins yielded an unexpected result in 2016 and pointed us in an outward direction. The group of four municipalities surrounding the Copan Valley legally declared a protected zone in the 870 square kilometer area they collectively administer, “The Sacred Valley of the Scarlet Macaw”. Not only will the macaws be protected here but they will be used as the symbol to promote a range of conservation projects such as reforestation, protection of water sources, and the control of burning. Macaw Mountain’s role will transform into a center of rescue, rehabilitation, breeding, and flight training while maintaining the park’s educational tourism facet. We will cooperate closely with Honduran wildlife officials to restore free flying groups of Scarlet Macaws and other parrots to areas of the country they previously called home.
The “Sacred valley”
The “Sacred valley” project is an outgrowth and expansion of the original macaw restoration effort in Copan “Guaras en Libertad – La Belleza Regresa”. The catalyst for this effort was a visit to Macaw Mountain Bird Park in 2010 by Dr. Jamie Gilardi, Director of The World Parrot Trust, as he investigated the status of parrot populations in Central America.