Donald Brightsmith is a scientist who works in South America to save those beautiful parrots called macaws. He tells his story here.
How did I end up a bird scientist? Let me explain.
It all started when I was a little kid. One of my earliest memories is of a flock of bluebirds flying over farmland in New York. I've been hooked ever since!
I began learning as much as I could about birds from books, TV, and Ranger Rick magazine.
Whenever I had free time, I went bird-watching.
And when I went to college, guess what I studied? You got it--birds!
If you go to my Web site (www.vtpb-www2.cvm.tamu.edu/brightsmith/) and click on Photos and Sounds of Tanbopata Parrots, you'll get a look at some of the parrots I've been studying.
Maybe you'd like to study the birds in your neighborhood too.
And maybe you'll grow up to be a bird scientist like me!
Here are some more facts about my favorite birds, the macaws:
World's Biggest Macaws are the world's biggest parrots. They can be more 3 feet long, from beak to tail tip. And they can weigh more than 3 pounds. That's more than 50 pet parakeets put together!
Totally Tropical There are 19 different kinds of macaws. Most of them live in South America, but some live in Mexico and Central America.
What a Bunch of Nuts!
Macaws are seed-eaters. They like seeds so much that they often peel away nice ripe fruit just to get to the little seeds inside.
A macaw's heavy, sharp beak acts like an extra hand, grabbing on to things and helping the bird move around. The beak can cut or crack open a wide variety of nuts and fruits. In fact, it's so strong that it can crush a large nut that only a macaw can crack open--or a person's knuckle.
Macaws have great memories, remembering the location of fruit trees in their rainforest homes—and which ones bear fruit when. Since there are thousands and thousands of trees in just a small area of the forest, that's quite a trick!
Macaws often scream. It's their way of "talking" to each other. Some screams say, "These are my treetops!" Others are just ways of expressing excitement during play, for instance.
Macaws hold their food with their feet while they nibble. Think you could do that?
Feathers of Death? Some people use macaw feathers to make souvenirs for tourists. But they have to kill many macaws to get these fancy feathers. If people stop buying the souvenirs, maybe the killing will stop. It's against the law to bring these souvenirs into the United States anyway. Why? Because U.S. laws protect these endangered birds.