Rare birds sanctuary to open in Bahrain
Manama, June 30, 2013
Hundreds of exotic birds, including some critically endangered, will go on display for the first time in Bahrain next month at a new sanctuary, a report said.
A blizzard of colour can be seen at Al Aziza Birds Kingdom at Amwaj Islands, which features beautifully plumed birds from the personal collection of leading Bahraini businessman Abdulaziz Kanoo, according to the report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
It houses approximately 400 to 500 winged creatures and will be shown to the public for the first time in nearly 20 years.
The GDN was given an exclusive tour of the facility, where aviculturist in charge Mike Gammond explained about the different species including the exotic toucan and red-vented cockatoo - a critically endangered bird numbering less than 1,000 in the wild.
"The palm cockatoo nests in palm trees and eats palm nuts, hence their name," he said.
"They're from Indonesia and the tip of North Australia. When they're ill, their cheeks change colour and become pale. They absolutely love pomegranates, so when they're ill, we give it to them and the colour comes back into their cheeks."
Rapid bursts of colour are seen at the sanctuary as the birds flock, mate and nest together.
It was the brainchild of Kanoo and Gammond, who breed endangered birds to boost their population and provide buyers with captive-born species in a bid to stop poachers from grabbing birds from the wild.
"I worked in aviculture in Tenerife and Gran Canaria before arriving in Bahrain almost 20 years ago to work for Mr Kanoo," said Gammond.
Although the birds have strong beaks and can easily injure people, Mr Gammond said he has never been seriously hurt. "I have been hurt by the birds before, but never seriously," he said.
"It got to the point where I wanted to cry and had to have some help to get my finger out of a bird's beak. But what can you do?"
The palm cockatoos, like most of the birds bred at the sanctuary, were hand-reared by Gammond.
Moreover, the exhausting and time-consuming task has paid off as the birds are friendly with Gammond and easily hop from the branches they are perched on to his waiting arm.
"The birds that are being hand-reared have to be fed every two or three hours. Then we slowly increase the time between feeds as they grow older, to about every four to six hours, then once a day and so on. It is different with each bird and each species though.
"Some in the wild are reared by their parents for up to two years, so some take a long time to fully develop."
Another critically endangered bird at the sanctuary is the blue-throated macaw, which is native to a small area of north-central Bolivia.
Recent population figures suggest there are about 100 to 150 remaining in the wild.
"These are highly endangered," said Gammond. "I've been trying to breed them for two years, but haven't managed it yet. There's still plenty of time though."
Gammond said one of the endangered parrots, the hyacinth macaw, has caused quite the commotion at the sanctuary because of its sunbathing habits.
They are the largest macaw and largest flying parrot species with a distinctive blue and yellow rim around their eye and beak. "The Victoria crown pigeon from Papa New Guinea also like sunbathing," he explained.
The giant reserve also boasts the endangered double yellow-headed amazons, which are popular pets as they are excellent talkers, golden and peacock pheasants, silvery-cheeked hornbills from South Africa that live between 40 to 50 years, and colourful toucans from South Mexico, Central and South America. – TradeArabia News Service
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