Sunday, October 6, 2013
A Puerto Rican parrot, Amazona vittata, feeding on the fruit of the guava tree Psidium guajava
Those that keep Amazons in captivity are quite familiar with the messy feeding habits of these birds. It is not rare for an Amazon to take a tiny bite of a piece of fruit and then drop the rest on the floor of the cage. The birds behave the same way in the wild. However sometimes, if the mood strikes them, these birds will take a piece of food and manipulate it with surprising delicacy and dexterity.
Some years ago I was able to photograph a Puerto Rican parrot in the wild eating a fruit from a guava tree Psidium guajaba. Holding the fruit firmly with one leg, the parrot first cut a groove around the middle of the fruit to expose the pulp. Then it proceeded to consume the fruit slowly and deliberately. After it had finished the top half it ate the bottom half. The fact that nothing disturbed this bird during its feeding bout is probably the reason that it ate almost all the fruit. Birds that feel even slightly alarmed will immediately drop any food they are eating.
Wlid guava Psidium guajava, is a common tree in the Rio Abajo forest, particularly in disturbed areas. When the local trees are fruiting, the Rio Abajo staff sometimes collects the fruit and gives it to the captive birds. The captive birds not only relish the fruits but will also eat the leaves and sometimes will also strip the bark of branches after all the fruits and leaves have been eaten.