Help us build an aviary so that poached and injured macaws have a second chance to fly free in the wild!




Tiskita Biological Reserve, Costa Rica. Deep in the lush jungles of the South Pacific coast of Costa Rica, the forest trees are getting a splash of color. Up until very recently, scarlet macaws were extinct from the area. Due to habitat loss and relentless poaching over the last several decades, only a handful of wild populations remain in Central America, a region once teeming with macaws. However, thanks to the decade-long reintroduction efforts of a team of biologists (formerly of the ARA Project), a stronghold of scarlet macaws is now starting to repopulate the Pavones and Osa Peninsula regions of Costa Rica.

Bagelparrot has teamed up with Ilona Thewissen and Chris Castles, who were at the helm of one of the most successful breed-for-release programs in the world. For over ten years, they bred and hand-reared baby macaws from a breeding stock of rescued poached birds and ex-pets (the CR government has Chris on speed dial when they find poached or injured macaws). Since 2002, they have released 75 scarlet macaws at the Tiskita Biological Reserve, with a 90%+ survival rate. Now with a viable population thriving independently of humans in the wild, the released macaws have started having babies of their own (with a 83% breeding success rate). This is an incredible breakthrough in the world of biology and conservation!

The Aviary

With a growing population of macaws, poaching is back with a vengeance. Currently, poached chicks confiscated by the government or previously released macaws who get injured have no place to go. Help us build an aviary so that poached and injured macaws have a chance to be rehabilitated by expert biologists and released to fly free in the wild!

With your support, this aviary will be built to last. Constructed of galvanized, rust-resistant metal, it will be durable enough to withstand even the harshest elements of Costa Rica. However, it can also be broken down and re-assembled and moved to a new location if required. Read more about the project  here.

Tiskita Biological Reserve


The site of the proposed aviary is on the Tiskita Biological Reserve (release site A) in the Pavones region. Chris and Ilona have released 75 macaws here since 2002. Located in the “deep south” of Costa Rica, Tiskita is a nine hour drive from San Jose and two hours away from the closest airport. Situated among tracts of pristine primary and secondary tropical rainforest, the area is one of the most biodiverse places on earth. Still largely untouched by agricultural farming and tourism, it is an ideal location for a viable macaw population. Species common on the reserve include squirrel monkeys, frogs, sloths, iguanas, and of course, scarlet macaws!

More about Reintroduction

The aim of reintroduction is to create a self-sustaining and genetically-diverse population of macaws in an area. The proposed aviary is necessary for all three steps of the reintroduction process:

1. Acclimation: Also known as “macaw bootcamp,” macaws stay in the pre-release aviary for up to two months to get used to the local climate, food, and environs (including overhead predators) before release. Biologists will fetch local food plants so the macaws know what to forage for in the wild.

2. Release: Once the biologists determine a macaw is a good candidate for release, a macaw will be lured into the release box with exciting snacks and allowed to fly to freedom on his own time. Previously released macaws and wild birds will visit these macaws to welcome them into their flock!

3. Adaptation: Lasting up to a year, this is a crucial time for newly released macaws. Close monitoring is essential at this stage, as macaws that get injured will be taken back to the pre-release aviary for further rehabilitation. Supplementary feedings will also be provided as needed.


About Bagelparrot

We’re a NYC-based non-profit aiming to spread awareness about the plight of parrots. We work with field partners around the world to help conserve endangered parrot populations. Learn more about what we do at  bagelparrot.org.

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