Help Billy Buttons and Baby Brad

October 27, 2013 by Tiskita Jungle Lodge

Tiskita needs your help to take of care of two teenage Scarlet Macaw boys; Billy Buttons and Baby Brad.

Please read their story. If you want to help them then you can make a donation to Tiskita’s PayPal here:





Your donation will go to paying Gerardo, one of Tiskita’s employees, for helping us to take care of Billy Buttons and Baby Brad. Any extra funds raised will be inverted in hiring Gerardo, or other locals, to work in other aspects of the Scarlet Macaw reintroduction project, e.g. the tree nursery of threatened rainforest trees that make good nest and foraging trees for the macaws.

Billy Buttons & Baby Brad

These two arrived in Tiskita in March. They are part of the reintroduction project that Tiskita has hosted since 2002 (73 Scarlet Macaws have been released since then).

Baby Brad actually has a special story, he was born less than a kilometer away from Tiskita to parents that had been released in 2002. His mom, Bella, and his dad, Brad, found a nice nest tree there and successfully fledged chicks for several years.

Baby Brad was born a little late in the 2010 breeding season, so when he fledged it was raining a lot. He may also have left the nest a little too early. He ended up on the forest floor and did not fly, a sure way to become a meal for a predator at night. Luckily, caring locals (thank you Sassy and Kim!) found him and kept him for several days until he could be transported to the breeding center in Alajuela where his parents were born.

Baby Brad had a mild respiratory infection that was taken care of. He then spent two years in the breeding center before he was sent back to Tiskita last March at two years old, a perfect age for release.

Since macaws are highly social, we thought it would be nice for Baby Brad to not go through the reintroduction stages by himself. Therefore, his breeding center buddy, Billy Buttons, was sent along with him. Billy Buttons is also around two years old and a he seems like a good candidate for release.

Like with all the other releases, all the permits were obtained from the Costa Rican government (MINAE department) to transport and release the Scarlet Macaws.

Delayed release

Usually when new macaws arrive to Tiskita from the breeding center, they spend about two months in a pre-release aviary near the lodge to acclimatise to the local conditions (climate, food, and wildlife).

Billy Buttons and Baby Brad however are a bit of a special case. They were notorious bullies in the breeding center that roughhoused so much that they lost quite a lot of their flight feathers, which they have been gradually recovering since arriving in Tiskita in March. We estimate that they need until the beginning of December to be fully equipped feather-wise again to start exploring the skies above Tiskita.

And no worries, the flock of already released macaws will know how to deal with these two overly confident teenagers!

Why we need your help

Taking care of macaws in the pre-release aviary is labor intensive. Once they are released, they will still need care for some months. Tiskita’s resident biologist Ilona Thewissen, who has released most of the 73 Scarlet Macaws in Tiskita over the years, and release site manager Marina Afertshofer were taking care of Billy Buttons and Baby Brad, while continuing their work with the already released macaws.

Unfortunately, earlier this months Marina had to leave unexpectedly to Germany where she is from, and with Ilona being absent from Tiskita for a month, Billy Buttons and Baby Brad were about to be left without care. Luckily, one of Tiskita’s employees, Gerardo, agreed to help take care of them and has been doing so with much dedication. Since he is doing this in his own time, we would like to be able to pay him for that.

Marina’s leaving happened at the same time that the organization formerly running the project is reorganizing and the Tiskita project is becoming independent (in process of setting up its own non-profit), altogether a time that financing the project is difficult. We estimate to have the non-profit set up (with website) by the beginning of next year, then we can start proper fundraising again.

Ilona will be back in Tiskita soon to continue taking care of Billy Buttons and Baby Brad, however she will need Cholly’s help for some more months while she is working on the new non-profit, that will take care of the macaws in Tiskita, and while she is tracking the released macaws in the area.

If you want to help out Billy Buttons and Baby Brad on their way to become wild and free, then please donate!

Tiskita Jungle Lodge & Ilona Thewissen

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