Photos: Macaws bring harmony to Caracas' chaos

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Macaws in Caracas, Venezula
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Photos: Macaws bring harmony to Caracas' chaos
In this November 14, 2014 photo, a macaw peers through a window of an apartment waiting to be fed, in Caracas, Venezuela. They are a common site sitting on the ledges of high-rise buildings or perched on antennas. While solid figures don’t exist, the population of macaws in Caracas is estimated to be several hundred. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)
In this Nov. 24, 2014 photo, macaws fly over the city in Caracas, Venezuela. Macaws are thriving amid the high-rises and traffic of Caracas thanks to a group of amateur birders who feed them and watch out for their nests. Visitors to Venezuela’s capital soon grow accustomed to lifting their heads at dusk and dawn to see the stately birds glide by, usually in a pair. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)
In this November 14, 2014 photo, macaws feed on bananas left for them while they stand on the window ledge of an apartment in Caracas, Venezuela. The city of around 6 million people does not seem welcoming for exotic birds. But the macaws supplement the food they forage with snacks birders leave for them. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)
In this Nov. 19, 2014 photo, macaws perch on an antenna in Caracas, Venezuela. The city of around 6 million people does not seem welcoming for exotic birds. But the macaws supplement the food they forage with snacks the birders leave for them. They are a common site sitting on the ledges of high-rise buildings or perched on antennas. While solid figures don’t exist, the population of macaws in Caracas is estimated to be several hundred. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)
In this Nov. 19, 2014 photo, a macaw perches on a building's security camera in Caracas, Venezuela. In one of the world’s most-hostile urban jungles, the spectacle of rainbow-colored tropical birds streaking across the late-afternoon sky has become a natural respite from rampant crime and choking pollution. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)
In this Nov. 19, 2014 photo, macaws feed perched on a circular platform with 58 feeder bowls on the roof of an apartment building in Caracas, Venezuela. The city of around 6 million people does not seem welcoming for exotic birds. But the macaws supplement the food they forage with snacks bird lovers leave for them. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)
In this November 14, 2014 photo, a macaw stands in the window ledge of apartment, waiting to be fed by the apartment owner, in Caracas, Venezuela. Caracas’ signature bird is the blue-and-yellow macaw, one of four such species that inhabit the valley. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)
In this Nov.19, 2014 photo, a macaw flies down as it looks to land on a terrace for food, in Caracas, Venezuela. Caracas’ signature bird, the blue-and-yellow macaw, is one of four such species that inhabit the valley. Legend has it that it was introduced in the 1970s by Italian immigrant Vittorio Poggi, who says he nurtured a lost macaw and trained it to fly with his motorcycle as he cruised around his neighborhood. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)
In this November 14, 2014 photo, Vanessa Silva, 38, feeds macaws that fly to her apartment window every day looking for food, in Caracas, Venezuela. A group of gold-and-royal blue birds poked their heads through Silva’s window, as if saying “I’m here, is anyone home?” “I’d seen them flying when I was down on the street, and I thought ‘Oh how pretty,’” the 38-year-old said, a macaw eating out of her hand. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)
In this Nov. 19, 2014 photo, Vittorio Poggi, 70, an Italian immigrant feeds sunflower seeds to red macaws at his house in San Antonio De Los Altos at the outskirts of Caracas, Venezuela. Poggi is credited with the introducing the macaws to the valley where Caracas is situated in the 1970's, who says he found and nurtured a lost macaw, and trained it to fly next to his motorcycle as he cruised around his neighborhood. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)
In this Nov. 24, 2014 photo, macaws eat perched on a circular platform with 58 feeder bowls on the roof of an apartment building in Caracas, Venezuela. City resident and bird lover, Ivo Contreras built the circular platform to attract the macaws. "For me, it’s a pleasure to see them come every day ... to share a space with them where you can recharge and find harmony," said Contreras, 44, who is a stylist for the Miss Venezuela beauty contest. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)
In this Nov. 19, 2014 photo, macaws perch on a structure atop a building in Caracas, Venezuela. Macaws are thriving amid the high-rises and traffic of Caracas thanks to a group of amateur birders who feed them and watch out for their nests. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)
In this Nov. 19, 2014 photo, macaws feed perched on a circular platform with 58 feeder bowls on the roof of apartment in Caracas, Venezuela. City resident and bird lover, Ivo Contreras built the circular platform to attract the macaws. "For me, it’s a pleasure to see them come every day ... to share a space with them where you can recharge and find harmony," said Contreras, 44, who is a stylist for the Miss Venezuela beauty contest. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)
In this Nov. 18, 2014 photo, two pairs of macaws fly in Caracas, Venezuela. In one of the world’s most-hostile urban jungles, the spectacle of tropical birds streaking across the late-afternoon sky has become a natural respite from rampant crime and choking pollution. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)
In this Nov. 15, 2014 photo, residents look at pictures of macaws as they gather at a park, as part of a group called "Macaws in Caracas, " in Caracas, Venezuela. The informal group that has more than 2,000 members, shares stories about their encounters with the birds_ the fright they felt the first time they saw one at their window, the way they learned to identify repeat visitors, and how some macaws seem to learn to recognize a call to come in and eat. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)
In this Nov. 19, 2014 photo, macaws eat perched on a circular platform with 58 feeder bowls on the roof of apartment in Caracas, Venezuela. City resident and bird lover, Ivo Contreras built the circular platform to attract the macaws. "For me, it’s a pleasure to see them come every day ... to share a space with them where you can recharge and find harmony," said Contreras, 44, who is a stylist for the Miss Venezuela beauty contest. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)
A macaw stands on a window as Dalia Correa, feeds her sunflower seeds in Caracas, Venezuela. A group of gold-and-royal blue birds poked their heads through Vanessa Silva’s window on a recent afternoon, as if saying “I’m here, is anyone home?” “I’d seen them flying when I was down on the street, and I thought ‘Oh how pretty,’” the 38-year-old said, a macaw eating out of her hand. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)
In this Nov. 24, 2014 photo, macaws perch on an antenna in Caracas, Venezuela, Monday. In contrast to other Caribbean climates where macaws have disappeared, the large parrots are thriving in Caracas thanks to the care and affection of a group of amateur birders who feed them and watch out for their nests. Many people take the macaws as pets "released" given them sunflower seeds and bananas when they came to the windows or terraces of their apartments. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)
In this November 14, 2014 photo, yellow-blue macaws perch on the window ledge of an apartment in Caracas, Venezuela. The city of around 6 million people does not seem welcoming for exotic birds. But the macaws supplement the food they forage with snacks birders leave for them. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)
A blue-and-yellow Macaw parrot sits in his enclosure in the zoo in Gotha, Germany, Sunday, June 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)
Red and Green Macaws, South America. (Photo by Independent Picture Service/UIG via Getty Images)
VENEZUELA - MARCH 03: Green-winged macaw or Red-and-green macaw (Ara chloropterus), Psittacidae, Hato Pinero, Cojedes, Venezuela. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)
Carlos Flores kisses his Hyacinth Macaw during a demonstration by the owners of exotic pets outside the Capitol in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, May 21, 2014. Exotic pet owners oppose proposed amendments to the "New Wildlife Act of Puerto Rico" law because it creates a list of "harmful and poisonous species" which would make it unlawful to continue to have their exotic pets at home. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
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CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- In one of the world's most hostile urban jungles, the spectacle of rainbow-colored tropical birds streaking across the late-afternoon sky has become a natural respite from rampant crime and choking pollution.

Macaws are thriving amid the high-rises and traffic of Caracas thanks to a group of amateur birders who feed them and watch out for their nests. Visitors to Venezuela's capital soon grow accustomed to lifting their heads at dusk and dawn to see the stately birds glide by, usually in a pair.

Some residents of Caracas go further: actively inviting the parrots to stop by.

Ivo Contreras has built a circular platform with 58 feeder bowls on the roof of his apartment to attract macaws.

"For me, it's a pleasure to see them come every day ... to share a space with them where you can recharge and find harmony," said Contreras, who is a stylist for the Miss Venezuela beauty contest.

Wild parrots that escaped or were released are an increasingly common sight in urban metropolises around the world, from the cherry-headed conures of San Francisco's Telegraph Hill to the thousands of parakeets that have taken residence in London.

Caracas' signature bird is the blue-and-yellow macaw, one of four such species that inhabit the valley. Legend has it that it was introduced in the 1970s by Italian immigrant Vittorio Poggi, who says he nurtured a lost macaw and trained it to fly with his motorcycle as he cruised around his neighborhood.

The city of around 6 million people does not seem welcoming for exotic birds. But the macaws supplement the food they forage with snacks left for them by bird lovers. They are a common site sitting on the ledges of high-rise buildings or perched on antennas. While solid figures don't exist, the population of macaws in Caracas is estimated to be several hundred.

Caracas residents are trying to preserve the birds' breeding grounds, said Miguel Lentino, scientific director of the Caracas-based Phelps Ornithological Collection.

"There is an attitude of defense and protection because everyone likes to see macaws near their homes, not in a cage," Lentino said.

Bird-lovers swap experiences and advice at meet-ups organized by "Macaws in Caracas," an informal group that has more than 2,000 members.

A group of gold-and-royal blue birds poked their heads through Vanessa Silva's window on a recent afternoon, as if saying, "I'm here, is anyone home?"

"I'd seen them flying when I was down on the street, and I thought, `Oh how pretty,'" she said while a macaw ate out of her hand.

After they'd had their fill, the birds flew off against the setting sun.

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