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Conservation Goes To The Birds As "Go Blue" Campaign Spreads Online

The "Go Blue for Blue-Throated Macaws” campaign has spread like wildfire through online communities like Tumblr.

Amanda Lafond

Follow Amanda Lafond on Twitter at PepperNPals

Word-of-mouth through social media continues to drive Barbara Heidenreich’s Going Blue challenge, where participants must either dye their hair blue or donate money, all in the name of the endangered blue-throated macaw.

For those like me who’ve found avian enthusiast communities online through sites like Tumblr and Facebook, the challenge has spread like wildfire. Members and friends nominate one another and post pictures and videos encouraging others to do the same. If the online bird community was unaware of the blue-throated macaw before, they sure know the species now.

Woman with kitten
Jacie Moase (wordsonbirds on Tumblr), a parrot enthusiast and bird blogger, took part in the "Go Blue for Blue-Throated Macaws" and encouraged others to do the same on Tumblr.
Still others continue to donate to Bird Endowment, an organization that is on the forefront of blue-throated macaw conservation.

One of those to have embraced the challenge is Jacie Moase, a parrot enthusiast and bird blogger. "I had no reservations about dying my hair, but on the same note I could only find temporary blue dye (university town during orientation week, go figure),” Moase said. "This works out better for me anyway, as I'm disabled and don't leave the house as often as I'd like, so I can simply apply a new fresh coat of bright blue when I go out!”

Part of the challenge is telling others why you’ve dyed your hair when questioned on it. The idea is to spread awareness for the blue-throated macaw’s plight. Moase has had success, particularly online, when it comes to this aspect of the challenge. "I've explained to pretty much everyone I know personally. Only one or two people have asked but I haven't really had the ability to simply interject the information. Regardless, my Tumblr post has 16,000+ notes on it at this point, which is more people than I think I've even met personally in my life, so that front seems to have been quite effective. I was explaining the blue to my chiropractor and she was simply delighted and exclaimed ‘Oh! Like the movie Rio!’”

Like many in the bird community, online and off, Moase feels passionately about parrot conservation and jumped at the chance to Go Blue. "I was aware of the blue-throated macaw's plight beforehand but I was not aware of the Bird Endowments conservation efforts,” she said. "I am happy that I was challenged so I could not only raise awareness but give a little bit to the cause as well. Conservation efforts such as these are the only way we are going to continue to see the large diverse populations of animals on this planet, and that is important for all our tomorrows.”

The Go Blue challenge has been a great way for many bird enthusiasts to help their parrots’ wild counterparts. Courtney Tye, a vet tech student who challenged Jacie Moase, was onboard the instant she heard of it. "I was actually planning on dying my hair as a sort of promise my friend and I made back in middle school so I was already due to do it anyway!” Moase said. "This gave me that extra push to actually do it and #GoBlue was such an important cause that frying my hair for a month was well worth it. Majority of the blue throats’ habitat is gone due to us and a lot of them are suffering due to the pet trade that we started, it’s only right that we do something to fix it.”

Courtney Tye
Courtney Tye (thepacificparrotlet on Tumblr) dyed her hair blue for the "Go Blue for Blue-Throated Macaw" campaign.
Tye has had varying reactions to her hair. Some were more receptive than others, but she is happy to have a chance to explain her new hairdo. "[I] scared my dad, he’s quite reserved when it comes to things like this so when he visited the look on his face was priceless!” she said. "The majority of my field hockey team was shocked as well, as this isn’t something I typically do and a few of my friends loved the color. It was an overall wonderful experience to have and certainly gave us something to talk about! Almost every person who knew me was questioning why I dyed my hair, really helped to push the cause forward!”

Humans were not the only ones to react to Tye going blue. Her birds had a little something to say about it as well. "My youngest parrotlet, Zeeby, tried to eat my hair and kill it a few times,” she said. "Whenever she was on me she would chase my hair around trying to get at whatever delicious treats awaited her at the blue end.My 2-year-old parrotlet, Mia, on the other hand was deathly afraid of me for a few days. Flying away from me in a panic, feathers straight, eyes wide, she hated the color in my hair and was terrified of it! She never tried to attack me, thankfully, after a few days she realized my hair wasn’t turning in to a monster and she settled down just fine.”

Tye has hopes that the Go Blue challenge will reach beyond bird communities and will become common knowledge to even those who are not so avian inclined. "I hope it doesn’t end here, that it spreads to all sorts of social networking sites out of Tumblr and becomes a known fact. That whenever someone with blue hair walks down the street everyone’s first thought will be ‘Hey I wonder if they’ve gone blue for the macaws?’”

With the Go Blue challenge continuing to grow, perhaps that reality is not far off.

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Posted: October 7, 2014, 10:45 a.m. PDT

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