This past week I visited the Puerto Rican Parrot Recovery Project. Jafet Velez-Valentin, the Aviary Manger, graciously hosted my visit, inviting me to spend the night at the aviaries. By late afternoon I the only human up in the rain forest with clouds swirling around me and the hundred plus birds at the aviary. Except when the birds chatter, there was deep silence for which I am grateful. It is good to be still amongst so much beauty.
I also am grateful for the success of this project. This past year they raised over 70 Puerto Rican Parrots and the population (wild and captive) totals approximately 350 birds. The species is far from being out of the woods, but with two free flying flocks and a third being planned, many are hopeful.
Hope was a little harder to come by fifteen years ago when I consulted with this project on veterinary matters. I also designed the first draft of release protocols so that captive raised birds might augment the dangerously low wild flock size. They no longer need that kind of support, as now they are the leaders in this field. Indeed the positions have reversed. Once I answered the questions of the project veterinarian, Dr. Antonio Rivera. Now on this trip I kept up an endless inquiry so that I could benefit from his knowledge and experience.
In thanks for all the good work of these dedicated people, I offered what I could so that they can enjoy and sustain their work, for the betterment of this parrot, and ultimately, all the species on this wonderful island. I did this by conducting a workshop for the aviary staff on Non-Violent Communication. This is a system of learning and applying social and emotional intelligence that has broad applications that increase organizational success. At this point, my support is merely a possible refinement to an already fine project.
Thank you Jafet, Antonio, and all the workers over the decades who offer a place in the world where birds and the human spirit alike may recover.