Published On: Sun, Jun 8th, 2014

BACKYARD BIRDING IN MERIDA, YUCATAN AND BEYOND-TAMARINDS FOR BREAKFAST: RED-LORED PARROT

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Cherie Pittillo, “nature inspired”, zoologist, wildlife photographer, and author, explores nature everywhere she goes. She’s identified 53 bird species in her Merida, Yucatan backyard view. Her column, published on the 7th and 21st of each month features anecdotes about birding in Merida, Yucatan and beyond. Contact: all4birdies@gmail.com  All rights reserved, © Cherie Pittillo

Ker plunk!

Plop!

Pting!

As I stand in my backyard, tamarind seed pods hit my metal patio table. A few more continue to rain down. I don’t understand why they fall in this one small area. When I look straight up amongst the leafy tangle of limbs, leaves, and old seed pods, I see the cause: a Red-lored Parrot found breakfast!

I debate whether to get my camera or not because I’ll have to photograph directly underneath the bird and dodge the falling debris. I could be “shell-shocked”.

Of course I fetch the camera. Although it’s not a good angle, the parrot moves into a small space where I can snap a few pics.

Red-lored Parrot reaches for tamarind seed pod

Red-lored Parrot reaches for tamarind seed pod

Sometimes empty, etched-edged seed pods fall. Another parrot edges closer – perhaps to see those etchings? One said to the other, “Hey-seeds”!

I can’t see their behavior, but I wonder if they shared seeds if they would be “pod-ners”?

Barely visible atop a tamarind tree, two Red-lored Parrots find breakfast

Barely visible atop a tamarind tree, two Red-lored Parrots find breakfast

As the first parrot continues to drop pod parts, I pick them up to photograph. Remnants show various stages of the parrots nibbling. I remove one seed to show its size compared to the seed casing.

Tamarind seed pods, pulp, and seeds chewed by a Red-lored Parrot

Tamarind seed pods, pulp, and seeds chewed by a Red-lored Parrot

As I watch, the parrot slurps off the outer juicy flesh of one seed and releases the rest. Although I didn’t see it eat any dark chocolate-colored seeds, I didn’t find any on the ground. My educated guess is the Red-lored Parrot dines on the pulp and the seeds.

Single tamarind seed exposed by Red-lored Parrot after removing the exterior pod and pulp with its tongue, beak, and foot.

Single tamarind seed exposed by Red-lored Parrot after removing the exterior pod and pulp with its tongue, beak, and foot.

While one foot grasps the limb, the other four-toed foot holds the food. I notice how easily the parrot balances on one foot.

While the Red-lored Parrot uses its foot to hold food, the other clutches the tree-top limb

While the Red-lored Parrot uses its foot to hold food, the other clutches the tree-top limb

Each seed coating easily sticks to the bill as a gooey, gluey pulp. Difficult to remove, I’d call it “pulp friction”.

Gooey pulp adheres to the Red-lored Parrot's bill as the parrot lowers its four-toed, hand-like foot

Gooey pulp adheres to the Red-lored Parrot’s bill as the parrot lowers its four-toed, hand-like foot

As the parrot dines, it makes soft gargling-like noises as if the parrot exclaims, “Superb! I am the Red-lored Parrot who lords over tamarind seeds”.

Red-lored Parrot lords over tamarind seeds

Red-lored Parrot lords over tamarind seeds

Go outdoors and feed your imagination. 

“FOOT” NOTE: Five minutes of observation and photography in my backyard let me share this experience. I cropped all the images as I couldn’t see exactly how the parrot ate. How “pleaseed” I am that the enlargements showed some details even if the photos don’t have clean backgrounds. Also I relished the change from several days of research and writing, excluding photography, that most columns require.

Mexico Travel Care

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