Exotic Plants Attract Exotic Birds

Thursday, February 11, 2016

By Kenneth Setzer

Fairchild's landscape attracts lots of animals on the way to or from their destinations; migrating birds, insects, etc. Some of course are local, and stop by, or even stay, because they find here what they need: space, food (plants and insects) water, areas to nest in.

I don't know how macaws got to Florida. Native to South, Central and North America (Mexico only), they certainly could have flown here unaided, but it's more likely the populations here escaped captivity. Their descendants are the feral macaws we can see flying overhead. I've seen them in Coral Gables, Coconut Grove, and South Miami.

This past slightly chilly week, a flock of 6 or so macaws landed on the trees outside the Arts Center.

Interestingly, they were feeding on the fruit of the sandbox tree, Hura crepitans. This tree, like the macaws, is also native to tropical America. I wonder if it was like finding a favorite food from home.

The sandbox tree is a euphorbia, which are notorious for caustic sap, but the macaws are apparently nonplussed by it.