What do malbec, merlot, and macaws have in common? They’re all likely to come up in a conversation with Peter and Olga Osvaldik, husband-and-wife owners/winemakers at Bellingham’s Dynasty Cellars.
Protecting macaws, specifically the blue-throated variety, has become a passion of Peter’s that started, innocently enough, with the purchase of a conure parrot from Hohl’s Feed and Seed about 15 years ago.
“The bird was really in bad shape and needed a home…and we just fell in love,” recalls Peter, likening the experience to a ‘gateway bird’ that eventually led to his association with macaws.
After purchasing a military macaw from Wings of the World pet store in Bothell, Peter’s interest in the species really began to take flight.
“I came across an organization in Portland,” Peter said. “They were taking birds that were abandoned or from distressed situations and fostering them and trying to find them permanent homes. We went down to Portland and picked up a green wing and a harlequin macaw.”
Six months later, the organization called Peter with two more birds, another green wing and what would become his first of several blue-throated macaws.
“That was when I became really interested in them,” Peter said. “I studied up on them and found out about their plight and how low their numbers are.”
Today, most estimates place only about 200 blue-throats remaining in the wild of Bolivia, making them one of the rarest birds in the world.
“We felt that we could do something about it,” Peter says, referring to the Osvaldik’s decision four years ago to form Barba Azul USA, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Barba Azul is the Spanish reference to the distinctive blue patch under the bird’s bill that translates to “blue beard.”
The purpose of the organization is two-fold: breeding the birds to establish a more genetically diverse pool to guarantee the continuation of the species and repopulating the former habitat of the birds with the assistance of Bolivia non-government organizations.
Repopulation will be much easier said than done. Peter notes that some of the many challenges include veterinarian checks, quarantines, acclimatizing, reintroducing the birds to native foods, and the inevitable involvement of two governments — to name a few.
With funds raised from the nonprofit, Peter has constructed an outdoor aviary which will encourage breeding, and anticipates “trading birds from other parts of the country so that we don’t have a closed gene pool.”
Planned expansion will also require him to double his available breeding space.
“We have five blue-throats right now, including two pairs, and are hoping to get more,” he says.
In an effort to raise additional funds, the organization has already held two wine dinners featuring Dynasty Cellars and Bellingham’s 9 Restaurant. More of these dinners are planned for the future.
Wine enthusiasts and nature reservists alike are also encouraged to stop by Dynasty’s tasting room, where donations to Barba Azul are always welcome.
While there, be sure to try the winery’s new releases including 2018 vintages of Dry Riesling and Chardonnay, a 2016 Merlot, and, later this year, a few other 2017 vintage reds.
The tasting room is located at 2169 East Bakerview Road and is open Friday and Saturday from 1:00 to 8:00 p.m.
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