Lorenzo: A New, Feathery Friend in Colombia
Abstract: Did you know that Colombia is one of the world’s most biologically diverse countries? A place that is biologically diverse not only has lots of wildlife, but also has different environments, such as jungles, deserts, mangroves, oceans, or plains. This week, I explore Colombia’s exciting nature and make a new friend!
In Colombia, it is not uncommon to be surrounded by a number of exotic animals. Even big, bustling cities like Medellin are home to a number of different animal and plant species. From the lizards on the sidewalk to the bats that live under bridges, Medellin has more wildlife than you might expect. As someone who is used to seeing only pigeons in New York City, I am always thrilled to see all the different types of animals here in Medellin!
Although Colombia is well known for its big array of animals, it is particularly known for its diversity in bird species. Many people come to Colombia specifically to bird watch. One of the best places in Colombia to bird watch is Tayrona National Park, located in the north of the country on the Caribbean coast. If you look at a map of Colombia, you can see that the country borders both the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean. Tayrona is located on the Atlantic side, and is close to the city of Santa Marta. According to Colombia’s official tourism website, Tayrona is home to over 100 species of mammals and 300 species of birds!
When I first arrived to Tayrona, I was stunned by the beauty of the environment. Tayrona is home to pristine beaches and incredible rock formations. However, in order to arrive to the beach, you can’t just drive your car or take the bus to the boardwalk. In order to reach the shore, you first have to walk an hour and a half through dense jungle! As we walked through the jungle, anxious to see the beach, we spotted a number of strange insects, frogs, and lizards.
Though I saw a number of animals I had never seen before in Tayrona, there was one animal that left a big impression on me. His name is Lorenzo and he even asked me how I was doing! Can you guess what animal I met?
What does this creature or plant look like?
Like you probably guessed, Lorenzo is a parrot! He belongs to a group of parrots called Amazon parrots. These parrots are found in abundance in Central and South America. As you can see from his photos, Lorenzo is mostly green and has a yellow streak on the top of his head. He has a beautiful streak of red and blue under his feathers and a large white ring outside his eye. He has a dark beak, and loves to imitate human voices. Lorenzo was born and raised in Colombia and is a native Spanish speaker!
How did I feel when I saw it?
When I first saw Lorenzo, I was eating breakfast at a local restaurant in Tayrona. Lorenzo was perched on the top of a nearby table, eating sunflower seeds. As soon as I saw Lorenzo, I got up from my chair to try to get closer. I had never seen a parrot outside of a cage!
As I inched closer and closer to take a picture, Lorenzo moved further and further away from me. Upset that I wasn’t able to coax the bird into letting me approach him, his owner looked on.
“His name is Lorenzo,” he said, chuckling. “And he can be shy at first! But if you try to lure him with food, he might let you be his friend.”
Why hadn’t I thought of it before? Lorenzo’s owner had given me a great idea! I carefully picked up a sunflower seed and approached the bright, green bird. As I reached out my hand, I was delighted to find that Lorenzo jumped to the corner of the table to eat out of my palm! Soon, the parrot was climbing onto my forearm! As Lorenzo climbed up to my shoulder, I laughed. Even though his claws felt scaly and pinched my skin, I was thrilled to have made a new friend.
Where does it live?
Like his owner explained to us, Lorenzo lives in Tayrona and has lived there for the past twelve years. Did you know that parrots have an incredibly long life span? An Amazon parrot can live for up to 70 years!
Lorenzo is native to Colombia. Given Tayrona’s lush, jungle environment, the national park is a perfect home for the exotic bird. With 300 other species of birds that live in Tayrona, I’m sure that Lorenzo never feels lonely.
How does it use its environment to survive?
Lorenzo is a very spoiled parrot! He never has to hunt for food to survive. Not only is he fed a steady diet of seeds, Lorenzo also dines on the leftovers that restaurant-goers leave on the table. When I met Lorenzo, he was hopping from table to table, eating leftovers. His favorite food seemed to be fruit. We laughed as we watched Lorenzo lick a chunk of pineapple, without even eating it! He must really like the taste!
Because Lorenzo is domesticated, he does not have to hunt for food. However, wild Amazon parrots must use their environment in order to survive. According to National Geographic’s webpage on parrots (www.nationalgeographic.org), Amazon parrots are primarily found in warm places. They dine on whatever they can find in their environment, including fruits, nuts, flowers, leaves and even insects!
What can harm this creature? Are we worried about it?
Amazon parrots like Lorenzo are not at risk of becoming extinct. However, because of their high demand as pets, these parrots run the risk of being over-domesticated and sold in international trade.
In order to make sure that Amazon parrots continue to thrive, international groups have placed bans on parrot hunting and trading. With these protections in place, Amazon parrots like Lorenzo can continue to live happily in natural environments.