Renunion 2008

When Stephen and I immigrated to Australia in November of 2006, we were not able to bring our bird family with us.  Instead, we had to find homes for them.  We were very fortunate to find good homes and 2 of the 3 families that adopted them have stayed in touch.  That means that we've had regular reports on Aussie, Bubba, Jesse and Pakshi.  We have not heard from Forte's new family, however, so there was no way for us to arrange a visit with her.

In May 2008 we went back to Ohio to visit the family and friends we'd left behind.  And, of course, we made a special point of seeing the birds.

(May 2008)

There was no way to know in advance if the birds would remember us or allow us to touch them.

Bubba and Aussie now live with my good friend Carolyn.  They both have remained sweet and easy to handle.

Here they are just moments after I picked them up for the first time in 18 months.  It took a few minutes for them to look us over, but then Aussie was tapping my hand with his beak to say "Mine!  Mine!  She's mine!"

Bubba and Aussie bonded to each other at a young age - and I'm so grateful that Carolyn was willing to take both of them; it would have been heartbreaking to separate them.

As you can see, Aussie stays close to Bubba at all times.  Carolyn tells me that it's just about impossible to hold Bubba and not have Aussie right there, too.

(May 2008)

(May 2008)

Bubba always did love a good scritch.  It was just wonderful that he accepted me again so readily.

They were having a ball climbing all over Stephen's shoulders, exploring his shirt and pulling his hair.
(May 2008)

(May 2008)
Then we visited Frank and Theresa, Jesse and Pakshi's new owners.

My fantasy, of course, was that both the macaws would  recognize us and would let me hold them and scritch them on the head or under the wing like I used to.  But I didn't really expect it... macaws are intelligent and have good memories, but sometimes can be a little less forgiving.  As hard as it had been for us to let them go, I know it was harder for them.  They were both interested in us, but did not permit much direct contact.

Frank put it very well when he said "They know you you are, but they don't know why you are here..."

Jesse came toward me (across the top of her friend Lido's cage) and put her head down as if to invite me to reach for her.  I did that, but in my haste, misread the body language and she gave me a good, hard warning nip (not a bite... but she certainly made her point).

(May 2008)

(May 2008)

Now HERE's a photo I never thought I'd see.  Look how close Jesse and Pakshi are.  Look at the size difference (Jesse just turned 3 years old and weighs 1,200 grams, Pakshi is tiny by comparison).  That Pakshi is able to be out with other birds now is simply miraculous.  He's always been very warlike with other birds, but under Frank and Theresa's care he's developed better manners.

Frank tells me that Pakshi does have a bad habit of terrorizing his amazons, but seems to get on well with the macaws.  In fact, Jesse has been known to help Pakshi "hide" when it's bedtime.

We visited for an hour or more.  After a while, Theresa picked Jesse up and held her while I fed her some nuts and treats.  Jesse would not come to me, but when she took the treats from my hand, she very slowly raked her beak across my palm and fingers, tasting me with her tongue as she picked up the tidbits.  She did this very slowly and deliberately, but clung tightly to Theresa the whole time.  I may be wrong, but I think that if we'd visited a couple of times more and spent a little more time, she might have eventually been willing to step on my arm - she clearly did recognize me.
Pakshi also seemed to know who I was, but like Jesse, he kept back a bit (although he also was happy to come and take a bit of almond from my hand).

Both Jesse and Pakshi have bonded with Theresa, and it was truly wonderful to see how loving they are with her.  Theresa is a natural with macaws and brings out the very best in both birds.

Jesse and Pakshi wouldn't allow contact, but some of Frank and Theresa's other birds were much more outgoing (after all, with them there wasn't any emotional baggage to deal with). 

(May 2008)
I was keen to have have a picture with Kazoo, Frank's blue-throat macaw.  Blue throats are quite rare (and endangered in the wild), so it was a treat to be able to see one.  It didn't happen without some trials, however... Kazoo stepped happily to my arm when Frank handed him over... but promptly trotted up to my shoulder, turned around and clamped down good and hard on my right ear.

Stephen just happened to have his camera ready and caught this shot.  OUCH!  At that moment I was sure that I was going to be known henceforth as "Liz Van Gogh".  But Frank was quick and pried Kazoo's beak from my ear.

(May 2008)

(May 2008)
He was just being ornery, not aggressive.  Kazoo is really a very sweet tempered little guy.

After Kazoo was pulled away, I asked Frank if I was bleeding - and he said "no", but then added that he was sure Kazoo hadn't actually bitten down enough to draw blood.  Frank claims he can identify the sound of cartilage being bitten through from quite a distance, and that he was sure all along I wasn't in any real danger of losing my ear.

We waited a bit and when we were sure that Kazoo was relaxed and feeling sociable, Frank set him back on my shoulder and I kept him busy with nuts.  He sat there happily for quite a while and showed me his very best manners from that time on.

Kazoo is as stunning bird,as you can see from this photo.
(May 2008)

Earlier that same day we paid a visit to Hartman Aviary and visited with the human and parrot friends we made there when we worked at the aviary in 2006. 


This is Cindy, a Hyacinth macaw.  She's absolutely huge - weighs close to 1,500 (possibly more... I meant to ask what her weight is and forgot).  She's not too sure about me in this photo.  Notice that she's holding her body very erect with her wings close to her sides.  Normally she's handled only by Patsy, her "preferred human".  But Patsy set her on my hand and doing that indicated to Cindy that I was probably an "OK" person.

She's not only a stunning bird (and huge) but is one of the most loving birds you'll ever meet - and is very, very gentle.

She did relax just a little with me (notice in this photo a slightly more natural perching stance), although she never really showed much interest in the goody I was trying to give her.  You can see Patsy (aka "Mum" to Cindy) in the background holding on to Crayola, who was showing some jealousy because of the fuss we were making over Cindy.  


This is Crayola. 

If you've viewed the training video that comes with "The Aviator" harness, then you will have seen Crayola when she was about 6 months old.  Now (2008) she's just past two years old and is still a stunning bird.

She's very interested in people, but is (even at this young age) a bit aggressive, which is not unknown for scarlet macaws.  She's not had a lot of human contact other than Patsy and perhaps one or two other people; her owner has intended all along for her to be a breeder, so socialization with humans has not been a priority.

She's incredibly beautiful - the photos don't do her justice.  She's smart as a whip, too.

Here's Jesse's Mum.  She was in a large flight cage with Jesse's dad (a scarlet macaw).  She's purely a breeder, and although she's happy to take a treat from your hand, she's not at all a "pet bird".

And this is Spring (with Crayola in the background).  Spring is just about the best socialized macaw I've ever met.  He'll "step" for almost anybody and is just soooo sweet and loving.  He belongs to Patsy, and goes with her on trips to local schools where Patsy gives educational talks to kids about birds.