Urban Jungle: Macaws giving colorful comfort to citizens of Caracas

World Today

MACAW CARACAS PARROT BIRD AVILA MOUNTAINA macaw flies over buildings with the Avila mountain seen behind. (Jorge Silva/Reuters/Visual China)

Many Venezuelans are struggling to get by, suffering from five-digit inflation, food shortages and lack of medicine. But there is a colorful comfort in the skies over Caracas.

CGTN’s Juan Carlos Lamas explains.

As the sun rises, residents of Caracas wake up to a distinctive sound: Macaws.

Each morning, Carmen Borges cuts bananas and picks sunflower seeds to feed her feathered friends. She said they have been visiting her every day since she moved to Caracas eleven years ago.

And even though she is afraid of heights, when the macaws arrive on her terrace, her fears disappear.

“With everything that we are going through, with Venezuela’s economic crisis, it’s always nice to hear and see the Macaws flying free, coloring the skies,” she explained. “They represent peace and we are privileged to have them.”

Carmen’s neighbor Mabel, a professional photographer, said she never tires of taking photos of the colorful birds which make the city a unique place to live.

“They represent the beauty of this city, they are freedom. Spending time with them helps us to be connected with nature in the middle of a big city.”

Many of the macaw varieties that fly over the city are classified as endangered species.

Protected by a nearly 3,000 meter-high mountain known as the Avila, Caracas is in many ways a huge cosmopolitan jungle. For its residents, that means the daily spectacle of macaws coloring the skyline.


A macaw eats sunflower seeds at a balcony in Caracas March 31, 2015. (1995-2018 Visual China)

They can thank Vittorio Poggi for helping create this view.

He is known locally as the “Protector of Macaws.” When he moved from Italy 40-years ago, a macaw flew in his window and it was love at first sight. Since then, he has dedicated his life to freeing all of the city’s captive Macaws. 

“Caracas is full of macaws, and this is a privilege because very few countries have them,” he said. “They are spectacular birds which visit everyone’s houses in the city. They bring happiness in the darkest times.”

Macaws are considered somewhat docile creatures; conservationists are concerned that Venezuela’s deep economic crisis could move people to trap and sell them for money.

The Caracas residents we spoke with hope that doesn’t happen, and want to maintain this unique relationship with their colorful friends, ensuring the Venezuelan Capital remains a haven for macaws for generations to come.