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BirdWire, Jun 17, 2017: Macaws View this issue on a Mobile Device Find us on Instagram Follow us on Twitter Become a Facebook Fan Watch Us on YouTube! BirdWire on RSS
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Macaw Facts You Might Not Know

By Kyle Carlsen
Assistant Editor | Bird Watcher's Digest

A few weeks ago I found myself deep in the Peruvian Amazon, surrounded by giant trees, howler monkeys, and countless birds. I was exploring the Manu rainforest with the Crees Foundation—an ecotourism organization that supports conservation and community projects in that part of the world. The biodiversity was astonishing. Among the three-hundred-plus birds I encountered in my short time there were the macaws: blue-and-yellow, red-and-green, chestnut-fronted, blue-headed, and others. Macaws are large, colorful, social parrots that catch your attention, even in a place like Manu. They are not native to the United States or Canada but are found in Mexico and south into Central and South America. Let's explore this engaging group of birds. How much do you know about macaws?
How many macaw species exist in the wild?
a) About 8
b) About 12
c) About 17
d) About 22

Which of the following is true of most macaws?
a) They have relatively large beaks
b) They have relatively long tails
c) They have relatively bare facial patches
d) All of the above

What is the wingspan of the hyacinth macaw, the world's largest flying parrot species?
a) 1 foot
b) 2 feet
c) 3 feet
d) 4 feet

Where do macaws typically place their nests?
a) On the ground
b) High on a horizontal branch
c) Inside a tree cavity
d) Macaws don't have nests

True or False?
Macaws mate for life.

True or False?
A macaw's facial feather pattern is unique, like a human fingerprint.

Christine Goff, the award-winning author of international thrillers as well as the Birdwatcher's Mystery series, is back with a new, original, bird-themed mystery exclusively for the readers of BirdWire! Upon publication in BirdWire, each installment of "Death of a Flycatcher" will be posted at DeathOfAFlycatcher, so you can catch up or encourage a friend to start reading. For more information on Goff and her novels, visit
The story so far: U.S. Fish and Wildlife special agent Angela Dimato is accompanying a group of volunteers on a habitat restoration project via raft in remote western Colorado. Their objective: remove invasive, exotic tamarisk trees and reintroduce native plants, with the goal of improving habitat for native wildlife, including the endangered southwestern willow flycatcher. The group of 14 volunteers and staff includes two teenagers, Peter and Damon, performing court-ordered community service after setting fire to public land. While camped for the evening, the boys sneak off for a smoke, and are surprised to hear two men arguing, angry about the group of volunteers camped nearby. One of the men threatens the group. Clearly, the boys are spooked. Peter reluctantly agrees to take Angela to the spot where they had heard the men. Angela finds the men's camp nearby, vacant. She instructs Peter to keep watch as she investigates, and to imitate the flycatcher song if the men return. At the disheveled camp she finds a journal, and reading it, realizes the scope of the danger—then hears the sound of the flycatcher.
By Christine Goff

Angela dropped the book and peeked out from the tent flaps. Peter stood above her in the center of the trail frantically waving his arms and gesturing toward the river. She sprinted up the hill toward him in time to hear voices approaching from below.
"Quick," she whispered. "Get off the path." If what she'd read in the journal was true, they were in more danger than she cared to admit.
Peter scampered into the scrub with Angela right behind. They hid behind a large boulder near the crest of the hill. Peering out, she watched as two men made their way toward camp.
Peter clawed at her shirt, pulling her back, and she swatted his hands away. She wanted to know who they were dealing with.
The man bringing up the rear carried a large fish. His companion carried the poles. It took a few minutes for them to pass their hiding place and reach the fire pit. When they did, the man in the lead turned around.
Angela sucked in a breath.
Delbert Sinclair snapped his head up.
She would have recognized him anywhere. Last August, the Montezuma County Sheriff's Office had circulated the man's picture to all Colorado law enforcement. The fellow with him must be his partner, Leon Cranford. Nine months ago, the two had robbed the Cortez National Bank and gotten away with close to $300,000, igniting a full-scale manhunt that turned up nothing. It seemed as if the two men had disappeared without a trace. Most believed that they had headed for Mexico, and yet here they were.
"Did you hear something, Leon?" Sinclair asked.
The man turned and looked back. Angela and Peter held still for what seemed like an eternity. Cranford shook his head. "It ain't nothing."
The fear Angela had felt in the tent seeped deeper into her bones. What were they going to do? She and Peter could make a break for the rock passageway, but there was no way they would get through without being seen. Even with the element of surprise, there was no way she could take down both men.
"What now?" whispered Peter.
Angela brought her finger to her lips. Pulling the field book out of her pocket, she wrote him a note.
We wait until its dark, and then we get the hell out of Dodge.
She could only hope that no one from their camp came looking for them before it was safe for them to leave.
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