Sketching Macaws in Costa Rica

Wildlife has always been a huge influence in my work.

When I got back from my trip to Costa Rica I was crazy inspired. Seeing all that wildlife motivated me to draw and draw (even the bugs and geckos I found in my beach shacks I stayed in we’re inspiring).

But the animal that had the most impact on me were the birds.

After driving to the southern part of Costa Rica, I got out of the car… and for the first time, saw two Macaws flying.

Immediately, I scanned the ground below them to see if there was some human handler they were flying to. Then it hit me, duh, these macaws are wild and just flying around. This is the rainforest after all.

The longer I stayed the more I learned about them, the more fascinated I became with them.

Normally, even if when we see a Macaw, we think “pet” or “zoo”. Not in Costa Rica.

Their loud calls, squawks, and screams echo through the forest canopy.

FACT: Macaws vocalize to communicate within the flock, mark territory, and identify one another. Some species can even mimic human speech.

Macaws typically mate for life. They not only breed with, but also share food with their mates and enjoy mutual grooming. In breeding season, mothers incubate eggs while fathers hunt and bring food back to the nest.

There are several species of macaws that are endangered. Unfortunately, many of these birds are illegally trapped for the pet trade. Also, their rainforest homes are also disappearing at an alarming rate.

So what’s being done to help these feathered friends out? This is where The Ara Project comes in.

How? By raising and releasing macaws back into the wild:

Starting in the late 1990s the release of captive-raised macaws was initiated by The Ara Project’s collaborator initiated several releases. Carried out over the course of the following decade.

Over time, unwanted pets were being donated to the center by MINAE (Ministry of Environment and Energy) and from other private donors who had unwanted pets. Many of the birds were unfortunately in poor condition.

Although these birds were unsuitable to release to the wild, they were rehabilitated and given the opportunity to reproduce, with the hope that their offspring could return to the wild and fly free.

The great news is, many of the released birds survived and are actively nesting.

Dozens of released Scarlet Macaws have continued to thrive and the population has begun to grow.

Thanks to The Ara Project, the number of macaws released back into the wild are gradually going up.

Reintroduction efforts continue with several dozen birds now living successfully in the wild.

Based on my travels through Costa Rica and seeing macaws for the first time in the wild, I created this art print:

This is a print I created from a sketchbook drawing…

Learn more and collect this print here

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