Monday, October 17, 2016

Yagoo’s Lesson

We knew better.  We had been told, read, lectured, educated…..we knew better.  But when faced with the dilemma my heart just could not do what I know I am supposed to do. 

When presented with a captured parrot, I caved.  

Ken and I should have known we would be a prime target having just built a resort.  And the honest truth is many tourists love to see animals up close and don’t seem to mind the cages.  

The local people know this and Belize does have a lot of resorts, lodges, inns, etc. that keep caged or tied up animals to attract the tourist’s attention.  We at Leaning Palm Resort are of the very strong opinion animals should be free to live the lives they were born to live.  So we bought a parrot and put it in a cage. 

A man from the nearby village of Gales Point, who I will refer to as Coco to protect the guilty, visits us quite often and showed up recently with a baby parrot in a large plastic oil bottle.  Coco had been collecting coconuts up and down the beach and claimed the bird had fallen out of a tree.  Knowing that he climbs into trees to retrieve coconuts and just knowing Coco, we were pretty doubtful the bird had just fallen into his path. 

Coco’s plan was to take the bird to Belize City where someone would be eagerly waiting with $50 BZD and a nice cage.  I barely thought about it before I paid $10 BZD for the bird with the thought that as soon as Coco handed over the bird I would release it back to the wild.  Good Deed, Yes?!

While I was negotiating the price for the bird’s freedom our staff was watching and waiting.  Once my purchase was complete and Coco was well on his way our staff informed me that I had just purchased a baby parrot and it could not feed itself or fly.  The parrot sure did not look like a baby to me, but I am clearly not a good judge of when to kick a bird out of the nest. 

The staff further informed me that I would have to feed it twice a day (at least) and teach it to fend for itself and fly.  And keep it in a cage to protect it from predators, until it could take care of itself.  “So, Ms. Taunya, if you are going to work this hard why not just keep the bird?”  I also learned that the fine for having a baby parrot in a cage is $500. 

We quickly re-purposed one of the old puppy kennels into a parrot cage and from an internet search learned that it would need a mirror and some toys.  I found a small mirror, made some toys from my collection of crafty stuff, put the bird in the cage and grumbled a lot.  But I hoped that we could figure out how to get the bird back into the wild in short order.  It still did not look like a baby to me.  

I continued to search the internet for help without getting into trouble for caging a parrot.  It turned out that our watchman, Percy, was very well versed in feeding baby parrots as apparently this sort of thing happens all of the time.  He painstakingly taught me how to feed Yagoo – yes we named him/her (it is hard to tell) and after a couple of days I was able to feed Yagoo without Percy’s help.  I know Percy was relieved as I was not a very good study and was a little grouchy over our situation.  

Feeding a baby parrot is not easy or without certain injury.  Yagoo was not any happier than I was about our arrangement and my scratched up hands and arms were his testament.  Thankfully Ken and Mimi were there to give me a hand.

We eventually settled into a routine and while Yagoo was learning to eat on his own the ability to fly was not yet on the resume.  He would have to master this before we could let him go. 

At the 7 day mark we noticed Yagoo was stretching his wings more and more and was even making attempts to soar – unfortunately his landings were disastrous so we started to brainstorm ideas for creating a safe environment for Yagoo to practice.  Without building a larger cage!

We decided to utilize our Gumbo Limbo Lounge which is a screened patio area elevated above our Wild Canes Bar & Grill and has amazing treetop views.  Perfect!  

We removed all of the non-bird friendly items and started to “toss” Yagoo gently into flight providing him with some safe practice and easy landing opportunities.  This gave Yagoo a great place to practice and it was not long before he was getting around the Gumbo Limbo Lounge pretty well.

After a few days of flying and landing practice we decided to see if we could release him.  He had been calling out to other parrots flying through and it seemed like the other parrots were calling back to him.  We set him on his stick on the bar of Wild Canes and waited.  He sat there looking around and then started moving a bit and flapping his wings.  He took flight and landed on a chair back and I worried that maybe it was still too soon.  He then landed on Ken's shoulder and we explained the situation to him and he must have understood as he took off.  

At first we panicked and ran in the direction he flew worried he had crash landed.  But we heard him call behind us near the restaurant and saw him take flight with a group of parrots. 

Over the next few days he would visit and sit in a nearby tree calling out in his familiar way.  We would call back, “Hello Yagoo, Hello” and he would call back but then eventually fly off with his new family.  We no longer recognize Yagoo when the parrots fly over and assume he is living a happy and free parrot life!  When the parrots do fly over, we do still call back, “Hello Yagoo, Hello”, just in case.  I accidentally got attached to Yagoo.

A few days after Yagoo arrived with us someone else brought us a baby toucan.  News had spread quickly that we were buying exotic birds and I was devastated that I had motivated another baby bird capture.  We did not buy the toucan, and yes I am concerned about what happened to him, but I have finally learned my lesson!!!


  1. Your heart was in the right place and any animal lover would have done the same for Yagoo. He is a happy bird now :) And I cannot imagine how hard it was for you to turn the Toucan away. But doing so, hopefully saved other baby birds. Thank you for sharing your story!

    1. Thanks Kelly! Your dedication to the planets animals is inspiring and yes it is even still hard to wonder where that toucan is today. Doing the right thing is not always doing the easy thing.

  2. Yet another kind-hearted episode in the life of Ken & Taunya, you are building so many special memories!

    1. Awww! Indeed Belize is a place where it is very easy to build special memories!!🌴

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