Newsletter 13, No.6 Vol. 2                        June, 2003



For me there have been a lot of changes over the last two months.  I have gone from spending three fourths of every day working in one way or the other on Friends of the Great Green Macaw projects, to taking a “leave of absence” for a couple of months, while I work in California for Point Reyes Bird Observatory.   

We are also experiencing changes within the organization.  At our annual board meeting, which was held on June 8th, at Horicon Marsh, in place of our annual general membership meeting, some changes were decided upon.  Of most importance is the change in our board.  Stephanie Schmid, our secretary from the inception of Friends of the Great Green Macaw, will be stepping down from her position.  Over the years she did a great job for us, often going out of her way, making personal sacrifices to make our organization stronger.  She will definitely be missed, and we wish her well in all her future endeavors.  In her position will be Russ Rothman, who moves from Treasurer to Secretary for the coming year.  Our new Treasurer will be Jeff Kuckenbecker, of Miecher and Associates accounting firm.  We are excited to have Jeff on board.  He will bring a great deal of knowledge and experience to our organization and will be a great asset for our accounting and legal needs.

Additionally, at our meeting we changed our membership year to match with our fiscal year.  This means that our next board won’t be voted on until Dec. of 2004.  Although general memberships will still be one year from your joining date.  Speaking of which, there are many members whose membership has expired.  We hope that after receiving a note from us in the mail, that those members will re-new their membership, as the funds raised from our membership drives, allows FGGM to cover many of the basic costs needed to keep the organization going.   

For the majority of 2003 and 2004 we will be focusing on obtaining funding for the Great Northern Costa Rica Birding Trail and finding organizations to collaborate with us on the development and implementation of this Trail.  For the project to continue in to next year basic funds are needed for personnel salary, consultation, and transportation needs.  We have allocated a sum of money to hire a grant writer to assist us with our fundraising.  We are in the process of looking for this person.  If one of you all knows a good candidate please contact us at [email protected]. 

Although we had a disappointing lack of interest in our general membership meeting, there were many successes in 2002-2003 to build of off for the coming year.  This newsletter will both take you back through the year and also shed some light on the future. I hope you read on, enjoy and find something that touches you to keep up our support for Friends of the Great Green Macaw. 


         Andrew Rothman




Farewell to Friends

By: Stephanie Schmid


Beginning in December of 2000, I have been an active member of Friends of the Great Green Macaw. In the years since, I have held the position of Secretary, Membership Coordinator, Newsletter Coordinator and of coarse my favorite and most challenging role as a volunteer working in Costa Rica.


On and off for the past two years I have spent time volunteering at the El Retorno Farm in Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui, Costa Rica. I was one of the first volunteers to work at the El Retorno and as it turned out that I would be one of the last.


I was a part of many projects, from planting trees to counting birds to scraping termites off the side of the house. It is a magical experience to see a Great Green Macaw. One of my most memorable experience was walking back to the farm house after a day  out in the field and seeing a pair of macaws fly over head. As the sunset, the light highlighted the bright blues, reds and greens of their feathers as they flew over head calling back and forth to one another making their way back to roost for the night to their nest on the El Retorno farm.  It makes all of the insect bites and sunburns worth it to know you are provideing a safe palace fro sucha beautiful and endangered animal.


At the Friends of the Great Green Macaw Annual picnic at the beginning of this month I resigned as Secretary of Friends of the Great Green Macaw. I did not feel that I had enough time to put in to the organization as I had in the past and  thought it was time to pass the position on to some one else. I will always continue to be a member of FGGM and I look forward to seeing where the new members and volunteers  take the future of Frineds of the Great Green Macaw  


New shelter opens at BTT

By: Guido Quesada


The new shelter for volunteers opens with the arrival of Elissa Pederson from the U.S. and Francisco from Spain. Francisco Camarasa will be working on reforestation and Elissa will continue the development of the bird list and continue with the point count bird survey.  We ackowledge the tremendous sacrifice by our first group of volunteers (Andrea, David, Laurie, Marla, Mae, Andrew and the students from SOL) in april to get the construction started.  Thanks for sticking with us during the tough times.  Also thanks to Justin Kaliszewski, Angela Braun, Melissa, Tibor Tamas and Victoria Chiriboga, who gave us a hand during weekends.  And special thanks to our carpenter Pancho and to Memo for providing the wood.  The shelter was built using wood from fallen Gavilán (Pentaclethra macroloba) and Caobilla (Carapa guaianensis) trees located in the 45 hectare forest management area.  So far we have three separate modules completed, one for kitchen and dining, one for storage and miscelaneous, and one for rooms and bathrooms.  Right now our capacity is 4 people.  We plan to increase it to 8 people in august.



Reforestation completed

By: Guido Quesada


The first stage of the reforestation project is finally complete and the little trees are in good shape.  Aproximately 56.000 trees of native species were planted in the reforestation and agriculture sector over the last 8 months, to cover an area of 70 hectares.  The bad news is that 35 hectares are in risk of being abandoned because their maintenance cost is higher than expected.  The other 35 hectares will continue to be maintained  All help that can be provided by volunteers will be greatly appreciated.  The task for the next 2 years is mainly clearing tall grass and bushes around the little trees, planting replacement trees where necessary and correcting initial growth problems such as split or bent trunks.  In addition, Friends of the Great Green Macaw will continue to plant native species along the Rio Toro to protect the riverbank from erosion, and will also be planting fruit trees around the housing areas.





Update from our Intern

By: Maria Victoria Chiriboga


I am currently in Costa Rica working on the creation of the Northern 
Costa Rica Birding Trail.  I have been here a month now, and have made some
progress on the project.  There is a lot of interest for the birding 
trail and I do not see any problem with it coming off the ground. The place
where I am living, here in Chilamate Costa Rica, is absolutely 
beautiful and the people could not be better.  Costa Ricans are very warm,
welcoming people and are willing to help in anything.  This has not 
just been a job, but an adventure, a way to get to know the people here and 
a way to work with conserving the earths environment.
Costa Rica is very wealthy in terms of its natural wonders, its
rainforests, and its nature, but it is quickly being destroyed.  I am
happy to be part of Friends of the Great Green Macaw, who is trying to
help slow down and stop the destruction to the environment that is 
going on here by doing reforestation work, being involved in the creation of 
a national park, being part of the San Juan La Selva biological corridor,
and by creating the birding trail to get the communities more involved 
in conservation efforts. I look forward to the remaining months, and hopefully I will be able to accomplish all that I have hoped and more, for the protection of our



Second Annual Bi-national Great Green Macaw Festival a Success

By: Andrew Rothman


            As the title implies, the second annual Bi-national Great Green Macaw Festival held the last weekend in April in El Castillo, Nicaragua went very well.  Over 300 people attended!   

The festival, hosted by Fundacion del Rio (The River Foundation), showcased the talents of the people who live within the range of the Great Green Macaw, and celebrated the continuing efforts to conserve the Great Green Macaw and its habitat.  There was singing, dancing, theatre, art and education.  Both the Vice Minister of the Environment of Nicaragua, and the Minister of the Environment where on hand to speak, and together they signed a pact to protect the Rio San Juan watershed and the habitat for the Great Green Macaw.  They also each planted an Almendro, donated by Friends of the Great Green Macaw, in a symbolic gesture of their effort to protect the Great Green Macaw in the future.

         Friends of the Great Green Macaw played an active role in the festival.  Besides donating 10 Alemendros that were planted by the environmental ministers and local children, we also guided a morning bird watching trip along the Rio San Juan, and assisted Mariamalia from Tirimbina Rainforest Center with an environmental education program for about 50 local youngsters.

         The festival closed with an award ceremony for locals who guard and or protect macaw nests, and for the organizations, including FGGM that participated in the planning and coordinating of the Festival.  Next year, Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui, Costa Rica will host the Third Annual Bi-national Great Green Macaw Festival!