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
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.
There was no way to know in
advance if the birds would remember us or allow us to touch
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.
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.
|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
|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
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
|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
|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
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
|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.
|He was just being ornery, not
aggressive. Kazoo is really a very sweet tempered
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.
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
|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