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Perching Redefined

Branch out in the way you think about perching.

By Louise Bauck BSc, DVM, MVSc

We watched intently with our field glasses as the Amazons screeched and cackled their way across the top of an enormous monkey’s ear tree. From our precarious perspective in the gently swaying forest observation tower, we could clearly see why these parrots are known to be real acrobats. They clung to tiny twigs, scrambled across mossy, bromeliad-encrusted limbs and hung inverted from fistfuls of leaves, all the while stripping away any possible edible item from the tree.

We watched as they went about their busy lives, constantly hunting for food and entertainment, and never resting on the same perch twice. Our guide and expert ornithologist, Miguel Mendez, pointed out the technique these active birds use for holding the monkey’s ear pods in their feet while extricating the sticky, but apparently delicious, seeds. Imagine the exercise that these parrots’ feet get in a day; a constant array of surfaces and diameters for them to hang on to, as well as different textures and resiliency.

**For the full article, pick up the April 2008 issue of BIRD TALK**

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