Parrots of the Caribbean: you knew we were going to get to them sooner or later, right?
Focus your binoculars on the gorgeous St. Lucia Amazon, with its green wings, electric blue face, red breast and yellow-tipped multicolored tail. Native to Saint Lucia – and the only parrot in Saint Lucia – it’s the national bird, but it wasn’t always so, and thereby hangs a tail – er…tale.
Back in the 1950s, over a thousand of these glorious creatures screeched raucously to one another in the rainforest treetops. The “Jacquot” (the French name used by locals) had been officially protected since 1849. Sad news, though: by the mid-1970s, only 100 St. Lucia Amazons were left in the wild, wiped out by deforestation, hurricanes, hunting and the wild bird trade.
Happy news: in 1978, the St. Lucian government started up its “Protection through Pride” campaign and officially adopted the Jacquot as the national bird. They built a parrot reserve and passed stronger laws to bolster conservation efforts. With school programs and the participation of local businesses and citizen groups, the campaign really took flight. (Sorry, we couldn’t resist!)
Exhilarating news: 2,000 parrots now squawk among the treetops, and the flock is thriving. Thus ends our tail. Yep, we said tail again, we know. The Caribbean isn’t only about beaches, boat drinks and island fun. It can also be about making the world a better place, one parrot at a time.