Tuesday, June 17, 2014

I've Got My Hands Full! By Karen McGovern

This will be a scattered and brief post that doesn't have a lot to do with art jewelry.  Sorry, or your welcome, depending on your perspective!  Spring/Summer seasons are the busiest for me here at the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation, where I live and work.  It's breeding season here, and we have our hands full working with several endangered species.  We are home to the entire North American captive population of the Red-browed Amazon parrot, the most endangered Amazon parrot from Brazil.  Right now I have five chicks hand-feeding, almost weaned, that are taking up most of my time.  So, I thought I would throw together a little video/picture timeline to give you an idea of what I do in "real life", and why certain times of the year are just CRAZY for me. 

First, every egg laid in the nest is incubated by the parents for a few days, then pulled for artificial incubation (to ensure that we get as many eggs to hatch as possible).


When the eggs hatch, we have to hand feed the babies every 90 minutes around the clock for the first 4 days or so.  YOU HEARD ME, EVERY 90 MINUTES AROUND THE CLOCK.  Sleep is soooo overrated....sigh.  In the video below you will see my husband assisting a baby out of the egg.  Hatching is hard work, and sometimes the chick just gets exhausted and needs a bit of help getting out.  It's pretty amazing, no???


Once the chick is out of the egg and settled in, we keep them in temperature controlled brooders and the fun begins. Eventually they do start to look like birds, and they eat like little machines!

They may start out a bit ugly...but they sure get cuter and cuter every day!

Finally, they become beautiful, independent adults.  The five we are working with right now are almost weaned, down to two hand feedings a day, and learning to fly and eat on their own.  Within the next month or so we will begin letting them fly around in outside enclosures, and by August they will be fully independent! 

Don't hate me because I'm beautiful....
So, while all of this is going on, my time at the bench is broken up into stolen moments at odd hours of the days and nights.  I promise my next post will actually be about jewelry design--I hope you all don't mind this little side trip into my daily life.  I will say this, working with these amazing creatures inspires me every single day and I try to incorporate that inspiration into my jewelry designs.  Working with wildlife is an amazing challenge--often heartbreaking, often euphoric, but never a dull moment! 

11 comments:

kimmykats said...

I truly enjoyed your side trip. What beautiful birds. Thank you for showing us!

The Wood and Watch said...

What wonderful work you are doing! As a jeweler and a "parront," I found this post to be a lovely detour. Thanks for sharing. -Rachel @ www.thewoodandwatch.com

Pam Sears said...

Absolutely beautiful! And I think it's fun knowing a smidge about an artists everyday life. What it might be that inspires their art. Certainly, working with babies like this, or any wild species, has to be beyond amazing. What a wonderful job (even if it causes the occasional sleep deprived hallucination ~ which can even lead to interesting jewelry! ~hee)

Erika said...

Wow! So many questions: Do you actually get paid or funding for this work? Will the birds be released in the jungle in S. Am.? Do you ever get to keep any of those beautiful feathers?

Carol Briody said...

Omgoodness Karen! Amazing little creatures! I watched both videos. I can't even imagine handling such a tiny little creature in the first moments. Hmmm..now someone providing free meals of yummy goodness so I don't need to cook?....yay, I'm totally good with that! :) Carol
Cbriody.blogspot.com/ABeadsLife (food deliveries accepted!)

Shaiha said...

Thank you so much for being there for those beautiful birds. And it is all about jewelry, nature's jewelry.

stacilouise said...

I love getting glimpses of what you do. I think it really gives insight into your jewelry pieces. You love of nature and animals just shines through everything you do. I love parrots, and those little guys are adorable

Carol Dekle said...

Thank you Karen for sharing these beautiful creatures and how you raise them. I can't get over their amazing feather colors!

Kathy Lindemer said...

What a gorgeous bird!

Brooke Bock said...

They are gorgeous! My daughter is going to school for marine biology and wants a parrot for graduation....She says it will be able to go with her someday on her ship....I tease her about the pirate thing.... These guys are beautiful...

Shirley Moore said...

I definitely enjoyed your side trip. Thank you for the wonderful information and the videos. And huge kudos to you and your hubby for all that you do!

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