Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Buzzed by birds

Hyacinth macaws
Aside from the falls themselves, the other thing that we did in Foz do Iguacu was to visit the bird park.  As bird parks go, it was fairly good.  It had all of the usual parrots and macaws etc and a variety of other tropical birds.
Grey crowned crane
The grey crowned cranes looked very impressive with their eponymous tufty crowns catching the sunlight beautifully.

For me though, the main birds to see here were the toucans.  In my bird related ignorance, I had assumed that there was one kind of toucan, the one with the big plastic looking orange beak that appears in the guinness adverts.

Toco toucan
But in fact there are around forty different types of the ramphastidae family, and they are most closely related to the woodpecker.  The diferent species vary in size and colour, but the most famous is the guinness one, more properly known as the Toco toucan.  Its bill is around nineteen centimetres long, but not the weapon it appears to be as it is very light, made from a honeycomb of bone.

Named tucana by the Tupi people of Brazil, these are noisy birds that some locals believe are conduits between the worlds of the living and the spirits.  That is perhaps why they talk of one of the toucan calls as being 'Dios te de, te de, te de' or loosely 'may God watch over you'.

They have a couple of aviaries here that you walk through, and many of the toucans in them are fairly confident about coming up close to you and giving you the once over.
They also had some big brown birds that walked around close to the gates, trying to sneak by you, having presumably worked out this was the way to somewhere else.

Another aviary contained a number of hummingbirds and huge butterflies.  With strategically placed feeders, you can get close to watch the hummingbirds  hover and use their long beaks and tongues to extract the nectar.
They certainly don't appear bothered by our presence and frequently flew right past our faces; more of a buzz than a hum.
However if we want to talk about being buzzed, then it was the last aviary that you have to watch out for.  Being buzzed by a tiny little hummingbird is one thing, but these were huge great macaws. In particular the Scarlett and the blue macaws seemed to make a game of flying from one end of the aviary to the other, and just clipping your head or arm as they pass you.
Caiman and turtles
Nic and I both got to feel the edge of a wing on us while we were in there.  Not one to go inside if you are at all anxious about birds!

Although almost exclusively a bird park, for some reason they did also have a small enclosure with caimans and turrles in it.  Not sure why, but it was a bit of fun to try to spot them just peeping through the plants on the surface of the water.

At the end of the visit, the are a few macaws that you can hold for the obvious photo opportunity.   These ones are much better behaved, and in fact were incredibly gentle with their claws on your arm.

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