Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Macaws Come to PGM

Photo Courtesy of Liberty Wings
Join Pueblo Grande Museum and Chris Biro on Saturday, October 27th from 10am to 2 pm for an amazing free flight display featuring beautiful macaws, sun conures and cockatoos. Chris Biro has been free flying and training birds for 20 years and his free flight displays are not only an amazing thing to witness but educational. Seeing a macaw free fly as they would in the wild is really something to see. And the sun conures are adorable with their trained retrieval skills. The birds are also incredibly friendly and love to interact with people - frequently landing on spectators when they return from their flight.

Why have a macaw fly event at PGM? What do they have to do with the Hohokam? Most people are aware that the Hohokam had a vast trade network that stretched from Mexico to Utah, from the Pacific Coast to New Mexico, and into the Great Plains. But sometimes, people only think of the obvious, most prevalent items found, such as shell, obsidian or pottery. As discussed in Desert Farmer’s on the River’s Edge, the Hohokam traded in both goods and ideas with a variety of cultures. From Mexico, “The Hohokam also traded for macaws and parrots. These birds, although relatively rare at Hohokam sites compared to other Southwestern cultures, were probably used for their colorful feathers in ceremonial and ritual activities. Their exotic nature would have been highly prized by the Hohokam.”

In Southwest Birds of Sacrifice, the author Charmion McKusick, discusses this Mesoamerican influence found throughout southwestern cultures and the “separateness” of the Hohokam area in this issue regarding the scarcity of macaw bones found during archaeological investigations. According to McKusicks’ findings, the Hohokam Area “received macaws considerably earlier than did the Mogollon or Anasazi Areas.” (p. 101) After reviewing findings from other researchers and taking a look at the largest and most well known and studied Hohokam site, Snaketown, McKusicks’ remarks that “after reviewing both bird and animal remains from several Hohokam sites, it is apparent to me that avian remains in general are very scarce.” (p. 101).

Photo Courtesy of Liberty Wings
Come celebrate and honor this long tradition of trade and shared cultures during our Macaw Fly event. The event will include an opportunity for questions and interaction with the birds. Where else in Phoenix are you going to see such incredible birds and vivid colors flying as they would in the wild? Come and see these amazing birds and discover why they were so sacred to the Hohokam and surrounding southwestern cultures. This program is free with paid general admission to the museum.

To find out more about Chris Biro and his Macaw Fly events, visit his website at To further research the trade relationships of the Hohokam and their use of Macaws and other sacred birds, set up an appointment to visit our Research Library at the Museum!

Posted By Renee Aguilar, Visitor Services Museum Aide

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