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COMPANION MACAW STORIES

 

 As most readers know, I love hearing stories about parrots and I love to tell them! I will add more stories to this section of the website. If you have a great parrot story, I would love to read it!
 
A WALK AROUND THE BLOCK

by Shari Beaudoin

Okay, time to embarrass ourselves. Last fall as I was taking a walk I passed a neighbor who was having a garage sale. I am really not the type of person who usually visits garage sales mainly because I don’t have the time. Anyway, as I was walking by I noticed a children's fold up stroller for sale in the driveway. You know the kind that folds up like an umbrella. I decided to purchase the stroller and then take it apart and redesign it for my parrots. I took off the baby seat, and the back cart and replaced it with a Comfy Perch across the handles and one down lower. I continued to work on it until it was exactly what I wanted. I can still remember the look on my husband’s face, when each of our birds were getting practice rides around the driveway. This was not quite as priceless as his face when I left with my Macaw for a walk around the block. Mateo, my macaw, was saying “Night-Night” in his deepest voice as we left (very loudly I might add). He generally says this when he is “DONE” with something. I kept going telling him he was okay and what a good time we were having. I was imagining at this time my husband somewhere in the house looking up the number for the nearest Loonie Bin


Interestingly enough, by the time we came home many children (who my Hyacinth loves) had stopped to talk to him. As we rounded the corner towards home his “NIGHT-NIGHT” in his loud deep voice had turned into “Hi-How Are Ya?”,”Peek-A-Boo Pretty Bird”, “I Love You”, and his rendition of God Bless America where he just belts out “GOOOOOOOOOD” in opera and stops cold. All of this being in his cutest little girl voice. At any rate, he was now thinking that this stroll was a really neat thing


To end this story, I happened to have the birds out on their stands last Halloween to greet the trick or treaters. One little gfirl came to the door and after seeing the birds, said “Oh you’re the lady that bought my stroller for your birds, which one of them was it for?”


The End for now, but the weather is warming in Minnesota!!
 

Do You Wanna Do Your Trick?

By Sally Blanchard

About twenty years ago when I lived in the mid-west, I taught my beloved yellow-collared macaw, Bojo, to do a somersault in my hand. She was always delighted to perform this trick on command. Rascal, my male double-yellow head, can be quite a talker and one never knew what he would come up with. One afternoon, I was visited by a man who did a performing parrot show throughout the mid-west. I explained that Bojo was a “one-trick pony” who did one trick very well on command.

I was a bit embarrassed to show her off to a man who had parrots who did all sorts of elaborate tricks during their performances. but he asked me to, so I set Bojo up to do her trick. The minute I picked her up with my hand around her back, Rascal started talking. He said, “Do you wanna do your trick? OK are ya ready... when I say three ... One, Two Three.” The moment Rascal said “Three”, I raised my thumb, Bojo grabbed it and over she went. When I had her do her somersault without Rascal’s help, the actual cue was for me to lift my thumb for Bojo to grab on to so she could turn in my hand. After she made the turn perfectly, Rascal exclaimed, “VERRRRY GOOD!”


The trick trainer was astonished. He had never seen two parrots, especially two different species, work so well in unison with one giving the verbal commands for the others. He even offered me
a good amount of money for both birds. Of course, it was an offer I could easily refuse. There was absolutely no way I would sell my delightful companion parrots for any amount of money. But I also didn’t want to tell him that the smoothly coordinated performance he had just witnessed had been a total coincidence and had never happened before! (... and never happened again!)

 
I Get A Kick Out Of You

by Coleen Cranston

My Blue and Gold Macaw, Debue, has a special toy (The Perma Play Birdy Man Senior) that he likes to beat up. One day he and Birdy Man were having a go at it. Debue was growling, screaming and carrying on with great gusto. I peeked around the door and saw him hanging upside down banging at the swinging toy with his beak and one foot. It is on a chain and as he swatted at it with his beak, Birdy Man swung away from him and then back and "kicked" him in the face. Debue lifted his head us and quite indignantly and sternly scolded the to, "Owww!...Stop that!... Baad Bird!"

 
TAIL PULLING GAME

by Sally Blanchard


Years ago I visited a breeder who placed blankets on the floor for her babies to play.  Various people sat around the blankets to play with the various types of baby parrots. I was quite amused to see 4 babies (Green-wings and Scarlets) harass a baby Hyacinth. They surrounded him and as he tried to walk away, they grabbed his tail with their beaks. There was no doubt that this was intentional play. The Hyacinth would escape and run after one of the other macaws only to have his tailed grabbed again. He was strong enough to keep moving with one bird grabbing his tail but when two had a hold of him, he stopped in his tracks. He was not the least bit intimidated and would actually position himself to keep the game going. Certainly this sort of mixed macaw play situation would not occur in the wild in the same way but it must have been a variation of some play behavior that happens naturally.
 

MY MOTHER MEETS A HYACINTH

Over the years I have met hundreds of parrots and remember many of them fondly. I often wonder what happened to these wonderful birds and fervently hope they still have happy homes. The majority of them were well-loved, and that nurturing affection encouraged some wonderful personalities — each parrot was a delight in one way or another. Sometimes it is the situation that was most memorable. From time to time I will share a few of my memories about these special birds and when I met them.

My mother had visited me over 25 years ago when my Double-yellow Head, Paco, was a baby. Other than that, she hadn’t had been around parrots much. After I moved back to California, I often drove down to southern California to visit her and usually took Spike, my Caique, with me. From the very beginning, she was afraid of him and he knew it so he started stalking her every chance he got. She clearly didn’t trust any parrot larger than a Budgie.

During one of her visits with me, I took her down to Capitola (near Santa Cruz) to visit Martha Hammer, a friend who bred parrots. At that time, Martha was raising two Hyacinth Macaws. The oldest had reached that wonderful toddler stage where he wanted to investigate everything and every body. My mother was sitting on the couch when the big blue bappy spied her. With a unique combination of a waddle, a hop, and a gallop he headed straight for her. When she saw him coming, she let out a stifled little scream as if she knew he would devour her. He stopped right in front of her, and carefully looked at her first with one eye and, then moving his head, with the other eye. Then, despite her negative body language, he climbed up on her lap and then onto her arm. He made a soft nasal sounding "wagel" gronk as if to say, "see I’m not that bad." He sat with her for some time and she finally relaxed. This was several years ago and my mother lived with me until she died just before her 93rd birthday. Even though she lived with six parrots (including her nemesis Spike), one of my mother’s favorite parrot stories was always about the big beautiful blue bird who came over to make friends with her. Her second favorite story was about getting to pet a penguin named Bart at the Penguin Encounter at Sea World.

 

My Well-adjusted Scarlet

by Bill Schulte

Friends were visiting last night and Fred, our Scarlet Macaw was on the couch with us. They were speechless when she climbed down to the floor, walked over to her cage, climbed inside, and went to the bathroom. To top it off, she returned to my side. While walking past the visitors, she stopped for a moment, looked directly at them, said a confident "Hello" and resumed her position on the sofa arm beside me. She is a huge Scarlet at 1050 grams but she is very gentle.

 

MEETING MY FIRST HYACINTH

By Sally Blanchard

My First Bird Fair

Over twenty-five years ago when I lived in Wichita, Kansas, I met the first Hyacinth Macaw I had ever seen. I helped start a local bird club and was the chairperson of the very first bird fair. This was back in the days were almost all of the parrots were wild-caught. The erroneous presumption was that if the parrots made it through quarantine then they must be healthy. Ignorance was bliss and we gave little thought to bird disease when planning a bird-related event.

Some of you may remember Merlyn Rhea — she wrote a column for Bird Talk for a few years. I also met her for the first time that day. She was a relative bird novice and brought her new Yellow-nape Amazon Pancho. Merlyn also brought her sister, Helen, who did not own a parrot.

Recently Helen had moved in with Merlyn because her home had been damaged in a serious fire. Merlyn had several small parrot family birds and other pets and Helen contributed two large Dobermans to the growing pet family. Although she was not planning on getting a parrot, Helen had some readily available cash because of the fire insurance payment. She was in no hurry to move back to her house — probably because of the trauma of the fire.

The bird fair was in a medium sized hall and, if I remember correctly, we had about 25 vendors — bird breeders, parrot product sales, a local bird shop, and an assortment of other people. In the middle of the building against the back wall was a vendor who had come up from Texas with several imported parrots. Back then I was too naive to wonder whether his birds were legally imported or not. The centerpiece of his display was a standard metal trunk turned on end with a Plexiglas front. There was a wooden dowel across the middle and on that perch was a huge beautiful blue macaw with the largest beak I had ever seen. The bird’s tail hit the bottom of the trunk and curled under. Although I had never seen one, I had read about these birds many times so I knew immediately that it was a Hyacinth Macaw. No one there that I knew had ever seen one before so a crowd gathered around the bird. None of us liked the fact that this majestic macaw was being housed in a trunk.

Whether it was “love at first sight” or an impulse buy, Helen was mesmerized by this beautiful bird and decided she could pay the $3,500 asking price. Of course, she was totally unprepared to bring a bird this size home. She had only had experience with little birds and the Hyacinth had not been tamed.

It was Sunday afternoon and cages large enough for a bird this size were not readily available in the area. Helen would have to wait for a few weeks before she could get one that was adequate for her new macaw. First thing Monday morning she went out and purchased a roll of chicken wire and some wood. That afternoon they built an enclosure that took up almost half of the living room. I visited them and the Hyacinth seemed quite relieved to have all that space to move around.

The next day the sisters ran an errand together. They were confident that the macaw would be safe in his new habitat. They were only planning to be gone for an hour or so but the errands took longer. As they pulled into the driveway, they noticed that something seemed wrong. Looking closer they noticed that the side panel of the living room bay window was gone and that the frame was all broken into pieces. The immediate fear was that their new sapphire jewel had flown the coop. They rushed into the house — the living room looked like the proverbial Kansas tornado had hit it. As their eyes swept the room, they noticed a huge rip in the temporary cage and good-sized gouges in both the living room and dining room furniture. Of course, it was Merlyn’s furniture. One chair leg was chewed into and broken. The damage led to the bay window with glass missing from the pane on one side. There was the nonchalant Hyacinth sitting on the window ledge amidst the window frame toothpicks preening herself. She looked up as if to say, “Where have you been,” and went back to preening.

Helen decided to stay home with the Hyacinth every single hour until the big cage came. She spent almost all of this time daytime and nighttime — on the living room couch interacting with the Hyacinth. I wouldn’t recommend this method of taming but it worked for Helen and about the time the cage came, she had a tame Hyacinth Macaw.

Since that time I have seen hundreds of Hyacinth Macaws
— many of the ones I have seen are half the size of this imported bird. She remains
the largest and most memorable Hyacinth I have ever seen!!
 

"WHAT THE HECK IS THAT!?!"

by Sally Blanchard

One of my favorite Saturday Night Live skits (from the early days before the show got so sarcaustic) was one where 4 or 5 of the male comedians stood on a porch and acted as if they were watching something of significance go by on the street. Their expressions were those of exaggerated shock and awe with a great deal of puzzlement. One comedian started with something like, “What the heck is that?” The second man replied, “I dunno, what is it?” Another one replied in a more exaggerated voice, “Geez, you got me, what on earth is that thing?” This went on for some time as they watched this imaginary thing go by from the right to the left of the screen.

Of course my telling of the skit does not make it sound particularly funny but I thought it was hysterical. On a visit to a local aviary I was reminded of that skit when I was visiting with three toddler Scarlet Macaws on the couch. They were full of energy playing and climbing all over everywhere. The aviary manager came over with a bundled up towel. She sat on the other end of the couch and unwrapped her bundle to expose a huge baby huey doughboy of a Green-wing Macaw who was several weeks younger than the scarlets and was just beginning to pin feather. The Scarlets were taken aback, stopped in their tracks and stared at the big baby with astonishment. Two of them stumbled into each other as they looked at each other incredulously and then back at the bappy. I imagined that the first Scarlet’s body language clearly exclaimed, “What the heck is that?” The second Scarlet was thinking, “I dunno, what is it?” with the third one’s wide-eyed reply being, “Geez, you got me, what on earth is that thing?”

 

A Showering Experience

By Sally Blanchard

(Illustration by Jeff Riebe)

Several years ago I did a consultation with a couple who had a Green-winged macaw. The macaw was beginning to pluck his feathers especially on his back where he was being petted all the time. Sometimes without realizing it, people have greasy or dirty hands or nicotine on their fingers which can contribute to their parrot’s feather destructive behavior. (One cockatoo stopped picking his shoulder area when his owner stopped eating potato chips at the same time he petted the bird.)
 
As part of a consultation, I always encourage people to make sure their parrots are getting adequate bathing or showering opportunities. I strongly advised that the Green-winged macaw get misted several times a week with at least one soaked-to-the-skin shower. I used to simply tell people to take a shower with their parrot. I started giving far more involved instructions after my clients called with the Green-winged called me to share their experience.

The man started his shower with the macaw on his arm. He turned on the water and placed the bird in the spray. Being somewhat adventurous, the macaw became excited by being in the spray. As the shower continued, the man tried to juggle the parrot with the soap and washcloth. The flapping bird slipped off of his arm and slid down the man’s soapy chest and body. On the way down, he used his beak to grab on to the only thing he could to avoid falling to the ground. The advice the couple gave me was clear, “Next time, please tell your clients to put their parrots on a stand when they shower together!”

 

Duchess Malachite Bratbird and the Remotes

By Nancyjane Bailey

My Severe Macaw, Malachite, earns the title “Bratbird” every day. When she is on my lap, she always makes a beeline towards any book or paper within her sight. Her eyes light with glee when she discovers a TV remote; I have to move fast to keep remotes away from her speedy, powerful beak. (She once put a little U shaped dent in a cable remote.) These behaviors led me to believe that she would destroy all paper and electronics devices within reach if she were given the chance. One day, she got that chance.


I returned from work one summer evening and knew that something was wrong the moment I entered the living room. The playgym atop Mal’s roomy cage was tipped at a bizarre angle and the door to the cage was ajar. Mal was not inside of course. I found her a moment later perched on a nearby bookcase, huddled against book bindings. I transferred her to her gym at once and surveyed the damage.

Given the quantity of poop in the nearby hail, Mal must have been enjoying freedom for several hours. She had unscrewed every bolt on her cage. The acorn nuts that once held her playgym atop her cage were unscrewed and tossed away. (One was lost forever.) The bolts that had been mated to the acorn nuts were scattered into the hall. Several toys and perches were discarded at the bottom of her cage. The wing nuts that once held them in place had been tossed across the room. Of course her food dish was dumped and her water bottle was on the floor beneath her cage. Somehow it had remained intact.

Though Mal had thoroughly trashed her cage, all the remotes were intact. The book bindings on the shelf where I found her didn’t have a beak print on them. Not one. Even the tempting maple mantle piece, well within reach of the top of her cage, remained unmarred. No plants, wires or cords were touched.


These days Malachite is locked in her cage with several sturdy padlocks when I am at work. She still tries to attack remotes, but
I am wise to her. This is just a little game she plays. If she really wants to destroy my belongings, she would have done so on that glorious day when she escaped her cage.

 

SADIE, SADIE, ONE SPECIAL LADY!

Sadie, the noble macaw, was sitting on the edge of the laundry basket. As the water poured into the washer, she hopped onto the machine. Watching the water swirl around and around, she shook her head and muttered, “Oh no no, Oh God, Oh S--t!” Where this little bundle of energy picked up this dialogue, I will never know. Hahns and noble macaws were part of my life and heart for many years. They are the most in-your-face birds I have ever met. They have an opinion about everything. Sadie used to love to go to the bank and go through the drive-in window. She counted, “One, two, three, four” as the teller was making the transaction.

Afraid of nothing she would sidle up to our blue and gold ma ca and try to push her off her place on the swing, then laugh hysterically, “Get out of my way big mama!” These little pistols are not for the fainthearted. Their energy is boundless. They can get into trouble iu a flash and then look at you with innocent eyes cooing, “I love you.” Sadie, like most of the little macaws, was most comfortable when she was being held in my hand or was tucked under my chin. Nothing could persuade her to give up this coveted position. She would rub her face on my cheek and whisper sweet nothings in my ear. How I love her!

 

SIBLING RIVALRY

By Kashmir Csaky

Gucci is
a two year old male Hyacinth Macaw. He lives in a large cage next to Disco, a very talented seven year old Scarlet, He just adores Disco. Gucci will take any food he eats to the side of his cage closest to Disco. He sleeps as close to Disco as possible and tries to mimic Disco’s speech and behavior. Disco, however, is unimpressed. In fact, he seems to find all of this adoration annoying.

One of Disco’s many tricks is to dance with me while I hum the song Tequila. At the end of the verse, he exclaims. “Tequila!” He also quacks like a duck, and imitates a chicken, cat and dog. He will call me he wants attention and will say, “Aha” when I tell him, “You got the right one, baby!” Gucci quickly learned to dance with Disco and me. Disco tolerated Gucci’s dancing. After all, he was not as well choreographed. Then Gucci began making a new sound that have Disco and I both baffled. It sounded like, “Nuck, nuck, nuck, nuck, NUCK!” When Disco heard this, he said, “Duck?” Neither one of us were convinced. This went on for weeks.

Finally one afternoon, Gucci said. “Nuck, nuck, nuck, nuck, NUCK, Tequila!” What a surprise. What an insult to my singing. I praised Gucci and made over him big time. So, he practiced for the rest of the day.

When my husband came home, Gucci decided to show off for him. Joe turned to me and asked. “Who is saying Tequila? I told him it was Gucci and now the Hyacinth was getting praises showered on him by both of us. He yelled out “Tequila!” again. Well, that was all Disco could take. The young pest had stolen his word. “STOP THAT! STOP THAT!, Disco demanded, “Bad Boy!”


Disco had never spoken the word, boy, prior to that occasion. We wondered if he really knew that Gucci was indeed a “boy”. If so, we could start our own sexing system. Send a photograph and just ask Disco.

 

BLIND AMBITIONS

By Sherri Latzke

Harley, my macaw had four homes in fourteen months that “didn’t work out”. I rescued him- he needed a place where someone understood him. Harley is equal parts angel, rascal, sweetheart, and clown. Considering all he’s been through, he has a boundless sense of humor and an impressive vocabulary. Because he was a recent addition, he has been quarantined in a spare bedroom pending the results of vet tests. I have tried to spend as much time with him as possible to assure him that he is loved, admired, and a permanent member of our family. During one heart-to-heart talk, I raced downstairs to answer the phone leaving Harley out of his cage - alone. This defies logic. Reason, and is clearly beyond stupid. Engrossed in a long distance conversation for over 15 minutes, I hung up and went back upstairs to resume my special time with Harley.

When I first glanced into the room all I saw was the cage. Pushing the door open revealed a sight that that made me gasp. There he was perched on the back of what used to be my antique oak chair. He was busy redesigning it into Macaw—sized toothpicks and creating pseudo contemporary carvings out of the larger chunks. His artistry had also been expressed in his idea of how custom steel mini-blinds should really fit a window. Yes, indeed, there they were hanging by a proverbial thread like some kind of twisted metal sculpture that given the right gallery would probably be worth a fortune. And Harley, you got it, looked as pleased as punch with himself and let me know with an exaggerated “Hellooooooo!!!!’. All I could do was croak, “Oh my gosh – what have you done?!?” “Oh what the Heck”, he chuckled. He looked so adorable I couldn’t help apologizing for sounding so upset with him when it was really my fault. I never should have left him out alone, etc. etc. ad nauseum.

Never one to miss an opportunity, he gave me a level look and said in his most serious macaw, ‘Ya Bum.” (He’s not one to sugar coat it) Always quick to quick to forgive, he added a long, exaggerate smooching sound and crooned, ‘Gimme Kiss’. Who could resist? Glancing around the room again at the electrical cords and the multitude of other accidents waiting to happen, I realized how lucky we both were that he hadn’t met with disaster. I made a solemn promise to never, EVER leave my beautiful, lovable, rascal ‘home alone’ again.

 

THE NOBLE PRINCE AND THE PILLOW
By Lynne Page

As befits the charming prince he is, Noble macaw Ducky sleeps every night nestled inside a royal blue bed (a sleeve cut from a sweat shirt) one a pillow on a throne (or chair). Though it is not obvious to the commoner’s eye, Ducky’s pillow has a shallow Noble-sized indentation in the foam stuffing, made by the loving hands of the mother of his chambermaid. Each night, Ducky proclaims “Go night night, heads into his sleeve held open by his chambermaid, turns around and backs into just the right spot, and settles into his pillow.

During one recent royal bedtime ritual, the instant Ducky had seemed settled, his princely head popped out of the sleeve and he complained sadly. Again his chambermaid held his sleeve so he could backup to snuggle down, but again he popped right back out and complained. Four times this happened and the prince no doubt was wondering how so noble a bird got stuck with such a dumb servant. Finally she understood the problem: the royal pillow had become rotated a quarter-turn so that the noble body was across the indentation instead of nestled into it. Once the bed was turned to its proper orientation, the prince immediately disappeared into his sleeve for a royal snuggle and peace reigned once more.

 

NUTS TO YOU, GOLIATH!

By Judy Doyle

The King In The Pecking Order
Goliath and Jacob, two of my five macaws, were raised together. Even though the other three are fully two to three years older, Goliath (weighing in at 3 pounds 1 ounce) is definitely the king in the pecking order. As usual, at about one in the afternoon, I let everyone out of their cages and gave them their usual walnuts, almonds and pine nuts. We do this every day just before nap time. They sleep from two in the afternoon to about four o’clock. Everyone was absorbed in their walnuts - each one was cracking and chomping trying to get to that delicious nut meat inside.

The Nuts Are Meatier In Another Cage
Jacob, the blue and gold, decided that he had enough of his walnut and climbed down to the floor and started eating what everyone else had dropped. He went from cage to cage picking up leftovers. Just about the time he reached Goliath’s cage, the walnut slipped out of the large bird’s foot and fell to the floor. Jacob spotted it and went over and picked the nut up. Because of Goliath’s bulk, he moves a little slower than the blue and golds, so it took him some time to climb down to retrieve the walnut. He finally reached the floor, walked over to Jacob, stretched his body to full length and made a guttural sound deep inside his throat.

OK, You Can Have It Back!
Jacob put the walnut on the floor, used his beak to push it towards Goliath and then flipped over on his back and said, “Jacob, dead bird.” Goliath made another noise, flashed his eyes, picked up the walnut and climbed back up on top of his cage. Even though neither of these macaws were communicating the way we would, it was clear that they were communicating, Jacob learned to say “dead bird” when he and my husband play wrestle. My husband flips Jacob over on his back and says, “Jacob is a dead bird.” Jacob will lay on his back until my husband gives him another command, “Jacob is all better’, Jacob will jump to his feet and then roll over on his back again and says, “Jacob, dead bird.” It was just a game until Jacob decided he needed to use the phrase to defer to Goliath.

 
 
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