Posts Tagged ‘Parrots’

I really, I mean really did not want to take on another parrot — I’m 70 and not in the greatest health, and had a wonderful relationship with the guys who owned me up till now:

Three  male Amazons (two Napes and a Blue Front) had acquired me during the decade I was doing parrot rescue (they didn’t like, but tolerated, each other. It was peaceful — they were out of their cages every waking hour, didn’t aggress on each other. Not at all. They’d reached “peaceful coexistence.”)

Then my good, longtime parrot-rescue friend Barb called me and told me that she and Bruce (her good-guy, bird-loving husband) had a problem.

So, Milo came. My dear, longtime friends Barb and Bruce, who have done great work in parrot-rescue and habitat preservation for decades, had him for the first seven years of his (Milo’s) life (do NOT, repeat NOT ever buy a parrot, especially a baby). And they had cockatoos, and Milo turned out to be violently allergic to cockatoo powder — something common to ‘toos, ‘tiels, and greys — so the alternatives weren’t good: either let him die at their place; take him to The Oasis, where he’d be in a small cage for the rest of his life with another male Amazon; or hand him off to me or someone they didn’t trust as much.

Guess what.

He’s like a big, friendly, undisciplined puppy. I love him, and he’s a pain in the ass to the other birds — wants to be friends, and won’t leave them alone. But that’s settling out now. Still, I fear for what’ll happen to him after I’m gone.

I’ve been bitten (drawing blood) as much in the past four days as in the past four years. It comes with the territory (all from my guys, expressing their disapproval of Milo’s behavior through flesh removal).

Milo is settling in, but I still have no idea about how to safeguard him and my other guys once I die.

Death doesn’t terrify me. Safeguarding my birds does.




Blue Front AmazonIn 2000, my old cat and best friend Spot Bob died. (“Spot” — think Star Trek NG and “Data” — and “Bob” — think Joe Bob Briggs, or as an ex-GF who grew up in a single-wide in a junkyard put it, “Joe Bob,” “Billy Bob,” “Spot Bob”.)

After he expired in my closet on a foam mattress, I swore I’d never have another pet animal. Ever.

Less than a month later, my GF at the time got in a horrible car crash after I dumped her. She was a hardcore hidden drinker, got abusive when she drank, and I just couldn’t deal with it anymore. The afternoon I said goodbye and said “call me when you stop drinking,” she drank a pint of vodka after I left, jumped in her car, and got in a head-on crash.

She left behind a baby parrot she’d been badly abusing. (She’d also cut herself up with razor blades, as I’d found to my dismay a couple months into the relationship.)

After she crashed, her ex didn’t want the bird, and neither did her two (barely) grown kids, who were, quite understandably, severely emotionally fucked up in their own right.

So, I took the bird and gave him a home — a year-and-a-half-old Yellow Naped Amazon. I had no idea how to properly take care of him. I just let him roam the house and fed him the food PetSmart sold me. He quickly became my best buddy. The only problem was that he attacked on sight any woman who came into the house, sometimes drawing blood. He drew no distinction between my horribly abusive ex and other women: he wanted vengeance..


So, when women came over, I’d lock him up — but I felt guilty as hell about it. But he’d physically attack them — remove flesh — if I didn’t. (Now, he’s much better with women, still conflicted but nonagressive.)

Shortly after that, I met a woman in a web design class who was a volunteer with the local parrot-rescue group, TARA — Tucson Avian Rescue and Adoption.

I did 10 to 20 hours a week volunteer work for the next decade, doing fostering, behavioral rehab of abused and neglected Amazons (dozens), and parrot-care education classes, plus the web site.

Along the way, three more abused Amazons decided they liked it here and wanted to hang around. I couldn’t turn them away, so I now have four permanent three-year-olds with large powerful beaks.

I love them. They’re a pain in the ass, and it takes me about an hour a day to take care of them physically (cutting up veggies and fruits, cleaning water and food bowls, cleaning up the shit around their cages, changing the papers in their cages, etc.) Then there’s their demands on me: “Pick me up! Pick me up! Give me scrinches!” I spend several hours a day with a parrot on my shoulder. And it feels good. I’m doing something good for other conscious, feeling beings. (And you bet they are!)

It helps me get out of myself and care for others. I never had kids because I didn’t want to put them through the same emotional torture I went through as a kid — yes, “dumbth” on my part: generalizing from a sample of one terribly messed-up family that shouldn’t have and didn’t reproduce beyond me.

Over the last 20 years or so, I’ve been hoping that someone younger than I am would fall in love with the birds and would take them on after I croak. It hasn’t happened, and probably won’t.

As Albert Ellis said toward the end of his life, regarding death, “I’m not exactly looking forward to it.” Neither am I. But what I do worry about is what’s going to happen to my birds.

Blue Fronted AmazonFor a decade I did volunteer work with the local parrot rescue group (Tucson Avian Rescue and Adoption), mostly fostering birds waiting for new homes, and also rehabbing “problem” (biting, screaming, aggressive, or fearful) Amazons. Here’s a slightly pared down version of the slide show we used at our monthly parrot care classes for potential adopters.

Parrot Care

This slide show is in .odp (open document) format, so any common office suite should be able to open it.

It’s also 43 megs, so it might take a while to download.

If you already have a bird and would like to learn more about taking care of him or her, please give this slide show a look. And if you’re thinking about getting a bird, please take a look at this before you buy or adopt. Parrots are wonderful, but they’re very demanding, and there are many other good reasons not to get one.