This past week brought a new generation of Smooth-billed Anis to Parque Las Vegas. Residing in a small tree that grew along a lower area along the rio, it was easy to observe from almost eye-level vantage point from afar.
I shared the images with a few friends and invited them to meet the new babies the next day.
Life can change quite fast, and in 24 hours’ time, the park maintenance crew had altered the scene. I was probably the only person who noticed, but oh, it was a visceral blow to the senses.
Wondering where they might have gone – or if they’d been hauled away with the debris, I watched for a while and saw one adult Ani with an insect in its mouth. It perched for ten or so minute while calling often. Eventually it flew to the muddy area along the rio. Yes! The babies found shelter along the rio at ground level, but their chances seemed slim. They had little ‘refugio,’ for safety.
The next day the adult birds with insects led us to the new hideaway. Four grown anis shared responsibility for the babies and took turns delivering insects. An impressive distance away, the babies were well hidden in tall grasses at the corner of the park. Ah, I felt better about their survival, unless a cat or snake found them.
The next day they were AWOL again, and no sign of adults. One appeared and perched along the rio. With insect in mouth it called, then flew to the far side of the rio, called and moved from point to point, and finally ate the insect. A second ani guarded the area of tall grasses, but never doted on a young bird.
I returned to the butchered tree and peered to see if by chance the young ones were there. No, but there was a second smaller nest that I had assumed was abandoned — yet there was a small dark splotch when I looked skyward through the nest.
Yes! A very young bird was there, and it appeared weak and extremely hot. Soon enough the parents arrived – Tropical Kingbirds, owners of one of the sweetest dawn songs I’ve ever heard here in Ecuador.
The nest is now exposed to the skies, and the baby gapes at the sky when a vulture or bird or even a large insect flies over, I want to warn it, ‘NO! Don’t open that huge colorful mouth and show your location!’
One parent appears to do all of the work, searching for insects and feeding the baby. Today it sat on the nest for about a minute, which gave the baby respite from the sun. The baby appears to be getting stronger, and if it will surely pass on strong genes of survival – if it continues to adapt and survive.
After an absence for a day, one fast-growing ani re-appeared on the scene – back along the rio near its original position. One adult doted on it frequently. Yay!
The extra extra good news is that the organization responsible for the park has had several meetings recently about the birds in the park. They were shocked that my list has grown to almost 80 birds, and they hope to do more plantings for the birds. This week – because of the ongoing butchering of some of the trees – they have asked me to give a presentation about pruning.
I find myself often saying, “Esperanza. Hope.”
There’s hope for the future when people become proactive in nature’s defense. I look forward to introducing you to some of them, but for now the internet options are very few. Covid infections and deaths remain quite serious, we have a curfew again of 8 pm until dawn, the museo is again closed, and the park wifi is so slow that it takes half an hour to load the yahoo email page for the day! Alas, my time is best spent in nature.
I’ve also spent five days in a holding pattern while another friend waited for a Covid test. All negative, so we move forward slowly – and cautiously into year two of Covid.
While working on the photos, I thought, ‘This baby makes a good spokesperson for Earth Day. We often think about what makes our world better without considering how those choices affect the natural world.”
Stay well and safe, and may we all remember to dote on Mother Earth in this next year. I plan to pick up trash along Rio Portoviejo on the 22nd. Do you plan to do anything special in our planet’s honor?
Two minutes before curfew, I publish this (without the first edit) and scram!
Sending you all love – all the way ’round the world.