The Sorcerer’s (Parrot Owner’s) Stone

Written By: B.D. Butler - Jul• 03•12

As I usually do in the morning, the parrots have their breakfast, and I have my morning java.  I happen to be flipping through the tele (telly as it’s pronounced in the U.K.) and came across the first Harry Potter movie!  It seems like it was a few lifetimes ago it was released, and we all gathered in the theater to see who this mysterious Harry Potter we had heard so much about, actually was.  So watching where the HP series all began, it got me thinking about how I began my love affair with birds.

I think it was about twenty years ago (yes, let’s not do the math) that I was introduced to my first issue of Bird Talk.  I was marveled by these beautiful birds that were so intelligent and lived as long as people.  You see a friend of the family had a Timneh African Grey, and she told me all about his talking and mimicry.  For the weekend we were at my family’s cabin in Creede Colorado, I read, re-read, and re-read again that issue of Bird Talk, constantly looking at all the photos and reading the owners stories.  Eventually in the future got a package, four years of back issues of Bird Talk, and I think I read them over and over until they were almost shredded!  Just imagining the day when I would have parrots of my own, not to mention my own parrot empire.  I even imagined if I was in Gotham City, I would be bird man.  Oh what an active imagination I had (have).

 

Click on the photo for white parakeet.

As most parrot owners, I started small, or at least that is what my mother required.  I think she really thought it was a fad, very much like my box turtle, or the rabbit that looked like a Siamese cat I just had to have.  However after months of begging, pleading, and promising to keep my room spotless, I was taken to the nearest pet store (45 miles away, hey we lived in the country) and my grandmother bought me a beautiful white and blue parakeet.  I named him Casper.

This indeed was something different, and something that I could not get enough of.  Most kids about thirteen have pictures from Teen Beat magazine on their walls, or the latest music star, I on the other hand had taken the “centerfold” out of all those back issues of Bird Talk and had them all over my walls.  So along with my little parakeet, I had my own aviary in my bedroom.  My mother of course thought I was nuts, but I guess it’s better than having the alternative.

Casper was followed by Garbo a Lutino Cockatiel who was such a charismatic bird.  She went everywhere with me, and was one of the greatest whistlers I have ever seen. Such personality in such a little body!  It was a little later that when I had my first job, I saved enough money to purchase a parrot.

 

My first Parrot Judd.

I looked for weeks in the classifieds, and there was an Amazon parrot in a neighboring town that was for sale.  I of course wanted an African Grey, but they were very rare at the time, and more expensive than a sixteen year old working part-time could afford.  I drove forty minutes to look at this bird, and walked into a sad and terrible scenario.  A rickety hand-made wooden cage, and a terrified Mexican Red Amazon that cowered in the corner at any sign of movement.  “Paco” or that was what he was called at the time would also make subtle noises, and the kids in the house would throw hats at him.  They had no idea how old he was, he was not banded, and they thought they were his seventh or eight owners.  At sixteen  it was the first situation that I was put in where I would have to make a life or death decision for another living creature.  I was raised with a respect for animals and their lives, I could not let this poor bird be abused, and even though it was not the ideal situation that I was wanting, I was put here for a reason.  So I bought him.

The first thing I needed to do was get him a new name, and a new cage.  I was big into country music at the time, and Wynonna Judd had come out with her first single, so I named him “Judd” after her.  Judd was placed in the corner of the large family room, and we gave him time to acclimate to the house, and the other animals.  He was only handled through a “puppet” or basically a stuff-less toy with a hole in it, that you could scratch him with your finger.  My aunt eventually got him to step up, and the toy went in the garbage.  I recall looking for a decent cage and at the time California Cages were the best of the best, and  before the internet, you had to write them a letter explaining what you wanted, and include a money order.  That seems so archaic in this day and age, but I remember I was so excited.  Two weeks later Judd’s new cage came, and to him it was the Hilton.  He nestled into our home like a champ, we eventually left his cage door open, and he would come and go as he pleased.  Judd was not a very “people social” bird (as you can imagine) and would step up when needed, and surprisingly never bit anyone.  There were times I got the feeling that he was felt lucky to be alive, and out of that evil house he was trapped in for six years.  I wanted to make sure that Judd’s quality of life would be the best it could be, and I wanted to spoil him, with treats, and every toy that I could afford.  We never clipped his wings so he flew a bit, and occasionally he would dive’bomb my mothers chihuahua, for his own entertainment.  He had his own sanctuary, which made the next chapter of the story hard.

As I grew up, and schedules changed, I made sure that when I made the decision find a home for Judd, that it be as good as ours, if not better.  I placed an ad in the paper, and a very kind woman answered.  She lived in the wealthier part of town and had a rather large estate.   Her grandson had accidentally let her Macaw out, and eventually they found the poor thing dead in a neighbor’s yard, victim to a German Shepard .  I felt for her, and there was something about the tone of her voice so I made the decision to go to her house to meet, and  check out the surroundings.  She had a tropical aviary/sunroom complete with water feature, and palm trees.  What bird would not be in heaven here? This was bird-topia.

I asked her come over to the house to meet Judd, and see if they would be a match.  She placed her hand in the cage, and Judd went right up her arm to her shoulder, and I immediately knew.  After everything that poor Judd had been through, I felt like I was just a foster parent for him, and it was a matter of finding him his “person”.  We agreed that I could visit from time to time, to check in on him.  For the first year I went around a dozen times, and Judd was happier than I had ever seen him.  He was still fully flighted and had perches all over his “jungle” that he could fly to. Sometimes you know in your heart of hearts, you have to do the selfless thing in order for good things to happen, and this happened to be one of those times.

After awhile I lost touch with her after a few years, but the last time I saw Judd he was very happy, and had a female Blue Front Amazon to keep him company in his “jungle”.

Even though years pass, and things change, you always remember the beginning chapters of a journey, and in the world of aviculture, this was mine.

 

 

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