South Florida bird advocates are seeking the public's assistance in protecting vulnerable hatchlings from being snatched from nests and sold as pets.
Shawn Denton, director of public services in Pembroke Pines, says he's seen about 20 palm trees in his town with gouge patterns. He suspects the gouges are from spiked footwear worn by human poachers as they shimmy up the trunks on the prowl for baby birds. It's something he wants to prevent -- especially during spring, when baby birds are hatching.
"We don't want to disrupt the natural family life of the nesting birds," Denton says. "We don't want see additional birds and juveniles going into the sales stream in the pet [market]."
That's where he'd like to partner with the public. Many of the gouge-marked palm trees are in medians along busy roads. Usually, he says, legitimate landscaping projects involve workers in trucks with lift mechanisms. People climbing trees with ladders or belts harnessed to the trunk would be suspicious, he says. He asks that anyone who sees this type of activity report it by calling 954-538-3644. He adds that suspicious vendors or roadside bird sellers should also be reported.
Pembroke Pines is a designated bird sanctuary, with municipal laws that protect all birds, Denton says.
Terry Denton, president of the nonprofit Bird Lovers Club and Shawn Denton's wife, adds that people who want a captive pet bird should think about adopting rather than buying. The Bird Lovers Club takes in hundreds of abandoned and unwanted pet birds. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.