Every morning, Daria Feinstein checks the bird feeders in her backyard in Coral Gables. She loves watching the wild macaws that fly around her neighborhood and stop to get food. She says their feathers look like rainbows.
The birds have been coming to her house for over 15 years, but now she’s afraid she won’t see them anymore. People increasingly capture wild macaws.
"A parrot lover in Jacksonville came down to see the wild macaws and there was only one," says Feinstein.
In 2010, Feinstein and Bill Pranty, an ornithologist, identified 44 macaws in Coral Gables. At the last count, in 2017, they only registered 12.
Parrots are protected by bird sanctuary laws in Pinecrest and Coral Gables. In these areas, poachers risk being arrested if caught with the animals.
Parrot lovers believe macaws are decreasing because of their value. One of these birds can be sold for between $700 to $900 at flea markets in Florida or in other states.
The Migratory Bird Treaty Act considers parrots as a non-native and invasive species. That encourages people to trap them.
"There’s nothing to prove that parrots are competing for food," explains Dean Swade, president of Birds Lovers Club in Coral Springs, in Broward County.
Parrots eat palm nuts, which are usually cut off the trees and discarded by people.
Swade’s club and others activists are lobbying the federal government to have the birds removed from the list of invasive species.
People use net-guns to capture the birds, which Swade says can cause them broken legs.
Macaws are not domestic animals and can be dangerous.
"They can easily give you stitches, break a finger, scoop an eye out. You have to know what you’re doing," Swade says.