Hi, my name is David Jeffrey -- you may already know that if you've happened to come across a page about me here at Bird Cage Portal. Just in case you missed it ... that's me over there on your right. I'm sort of the official spokesman for our website and newsletter. So "Mom" thought it was good to assign me the job of sharing how she came to have 13 parrots.
Since living with people we've learned alot ... like people don't lay eggs so we know we are adopted. All of us were domestically-bred except for one and he came from Indonesia. But more about that later. Our family began with the first arrival in 1985. Looking back over the past 23+ years, Mom says living with us changed her life.
Truthfully, even with all the wonder and love it hasn't always been a bed of roses. Mom's learned a lot about parrots and our needs, and even more about herself over the years. It might take some time before her reflections are part of the website, but if you visit again you might want to keep your eye out for Living With Parrots. When the page exits you should be able to find it under About Us on the menu.
Our Family "Hatched" with Fagan and Olivia
As I mentioned, our family of parrots started coming together back in 1985 when Mom (apologies to those of you who don't enjoy anthropomorphism) drove by a bird store. But I'm getting a little ahead of myself ... let me explain.
Mom had two pet cockatiel buddies and several Budgies as a kid. Because it was such a meaningful experience she'd wondered over the following years what it might be like to have a larger bird. Actually, that desire turned into the dream of getting a Moluccan cockatoo (sheesh, what can I say :). How did the obsession with Moluccans happen? Years ago, while walking by a store specializing in parrots she saw this supposedly "to-die-for-beautiful" bird and was instantly fascinated. That bird turned out to be a species named Cacatua moluccensis, i.e. Salmon-crested or Moluccan Cockatoo.
Anyway, moving forward to 1985 she found herself driving by a bird store. It was that event that ignited her passion for parrots. Here's what happened - without better things to do when she saw the bird store she screeched on the brakes and careened into the parking lot. In she goes and what is the first thing she sees? You guessed it ... a Moluccan Cockatoo.
It's somewhat important to re-mention the time frame. It was l985 before importation of wild birds became illegal ... thank Heaven that it eventually did! Anyway, as it turned out the store owner also owned a quarantine station and traveled the world arranging to imort wild caught birds. You guess it again -- all the Moluccan's in the store were wild caught parrots. Sad but true, but I digress. Remember, this is Mom's first experience buying a bird for herself and definitely was before she really knew anything about large parrots. And she knew absolutely nothing about importing wild-caught birds and the reasons it eventually became illegal.
To somewhat defend the store owner, he was operating a quality store and all the parrots offered for sale were well-cared for, healthy and housed appropriately. They were also very young ... we'll consider them babies because there is little doubt that most were under a year old. Mom couldn't wait to hold one and the store manager picked a very young Moluccan that had a calm demeanor and accepted removal from its cage without stress. Mom took the baby and it snuggled right up and stayed glued to her in baby Cockatoo fashion. If you are a lover of parrots you can just imagine what that meant -- it was love at first snuggle.
It was tempting to write a check and walk out with that cuddly bundle of feathers. But Mom thought she'd try to keep her head so left with a ton of books about parrots instead. To digress for a moment ... the mid-80's were a lot different than it is now in terms of good information about parrots. Then the books that were available offered little or no information about behavior and personalties of different species. They mostly comprised information that had been gathered over the years to inform people on how to breed the different species. When Mom got home she discovered that was the type of information the books contained which proved interesting but not particularly helpful to a novice wanting to purchase a pet bird.
Honestly, the next week was spent driving from one end of Southern California to the other visiting bird stores that had Moluccan Cockatoos available. She'd made up her mind that she was going to buy a Moluccan but wanted to do as much "homework" as possible to learn more about them. She found several sweet domestic-raised Moluccan babies, but just couldn't get that first wild-caught youngster out of her mind. He was the one! So it was back to the first store to see if he was still there. He was. She came home with the baby in a box and all the bird stuff she could cram into her car. That was the beginning. Read more about the ups and downs of living with the baby Moluccan we know and (well, at least Mom loves) ... Fagan. If you'd like to learn about the mistakes Mom made raising Fagan and his triumph over them, visit Fagan's Tale originally published in Sally Blanchard's Pet Bird Report in 1997.
Well, Mom made it through the next months totally engrossed with Fagan and all the adorable ... and she emphasizes adorable things about him. Then it came time for a vacation. Uh oh! Fagan couldn't go, so what to do. The best alternative at the time was to board Fagan at the store where she bought him. Separation anxiety for Mom, no problem for Fagan ... he handled it just fine. Parrots are very adaptable beings. Anyway, off Fagan went to the store and off Mom went on her trip. Trip over -- a rush b ack to the store. When Mom walked in Fagan was sitting on top of his boarding cage with the most adorable little Umbrella Cockatoo snuggled up to him in such an adoring fashion it would make you cry ... or say, "oh geez" if it were me. Anyway, Mom was pretty naive in those days and figured this little Umbrella (who turned out to be a 9-year old) was "in love". So, if that were the case, how in the world could she separate them. Didn't I just mention the word "naive". Yep, that's the best definition of Mom at the time -- especially considering all that she's learned about Cockatoos (and parrots, in general) as time went on.
O course, you are way ahead of me again. She didn't separate them. Olivia came home with Fagan. So now she had a family of two Cockatoos. Yes, Olivia probably was "in love" with Fagan -- breeding age Umbrella hens usually are in romancing-mode when male Cockatoos are present. Or so it seems. But, of course, Fagan was a baby and oblivious to all the romantic stuff.
Bailey, The Blue and Gold Macaw
Then a whole year went by until Mom went after bird supplies one day and found herself introduced to a baby Blue and Gold Macaw. Macaws are high on her "love list" so she just had to say "hello". The result was an affectionate baby Macaw sitting on her shoulder, rubbing his cheek again hers and saying "I love you". Well, how would you respond? For Mom the only choice was to rush home and convince her husband how much they "needed" a Macaw. Yikes! Now, this love affair stuff was getting serious. This baby made three parrots.
Enough is enough, right? Probably so. But that wasn't the end! Nope, it sure wasn't.
Bill, an Umbrella Cockatoo
Number 4 wasn't a baby ... he was a breeding age Umbrella Cockatoo, exact age unknown. Are you a bleeding heart? If so, then you are more apt to understand Mom a little better. Because it is difficult for her to see the way parrots and other animals linger in some pet shops there is one thing she doesn't do -- she doesn't go into Mall pet shops. Well, it was Christmas time and during a window shopping trip she glanced into a mall pet store and saw an Umbrella Cockatoo stuffed into a tiny cage sitting next to the cash register. Christmas shoppers packed the store and the poor little Umbrella was very obviously stressed out. It didn't take much observation to determine that bird needed some help. At least Mom thought so. So in she went and came out with an Umbrella Cockatoo tucked under her coat. That is the way Bill came home. By the way, Mom paid for him first ... I don't want to give you the impression that she just slipped out with him.
It sure didn't take Bill and Olivia long to discover each other. After a quarantine period to be sure Bill was healthy, they hit it off immediately and it wasn't long before we had our first bonded and breeding pair of parrots.
Four Baby Umbrella Cockatoos
Did I just mention breeding? Yep, that is what Mom found herself immersed in. Enough years had passed and experience gained that Mom decided to let Bill and Olivia do what nature was calling them to do. They had 3 clutches of eggs for a total of 4 babies. First came Solly and Sassy, then Wilton and finally Berrymore. Sassy and Berrymore went to loving homes. So that left Solly and Wilton still at home. Funny how hard it is for some people to separate themselves from us especially after the bond of hand feeding, etc. Well, a few months passed without finding suitable homes for Solly and Wilton. Because of the growing attachment they became a permanent part of the family.
Harry and Isabel, The Jardine's Parrots
Over the years Mom's life revolved around us. She joined several bird organizations and was exposed to a lot of great information. It was a fascinating time of learning and absorbing everything she could learn about birds. One day she bought some raffle tickets for a fund raising event sponsored by a bird organization (IAS). And guess what -- she won a Jardine's Parrot. Really unbelievable because Mom never wins anything. So I guess she is just fated for birds to be a part of her life . . . a big part. Because Mom was loving her Umbrella Cockatoo breeding experience, she decided that her new Jardine Parrot needed a partner. So she made arrangements with the breeder who donated the Jardine's to buy a second one. Harry and Isabel had their first and only plane ride from North Carolina to California when they were 4 months old. If you'd like to read a 1995 article published in the Pet Bird Report about Harry and Isabel visit Two Jardine's Parrots.
A Greenwing Macaw named Rosebud
Believe it or not, along the way Mom started a bird toy business. She had a pretty neat line called Parrot Affair ... Playthings for Pampered Parrots. It was a lot of fun and she met some great people while selling Parrot Affair's toys. But all good things come to an end and a move to Florida brought an end to the toy business. It was just too much to move everything across the country and start up again. I only mention the toy thing so you'll understand that she went to a lot of bird marts to sell toys. While at a bird mart in Northern California she saw some Greenwing Macaw babies still being handfed. Didn't I mention that she has a big place in her heart for Macaws? And, to be honest, Mom thinks Greenwing Macaw babies are the cutest parrots in the whole world, especially when all those pin feathers are sticking straight up on their heads. I have to admit they are kind of cute. Well, the "love bug" bit again and she mentioned the greenwing babies to her husband. The next thing she knew her knight in shining armor husband bought one of the babies and gave it to her as a surprise. So beautiful Rosebud joined the flock.
Greenwing Macaw . . . Rodney
Mom says one of the really great things about being involved with parrots is the great people you meet. She sure has met quite a few. One of her favorite friends was breeding parrots during the 1990's in Northern California.
Because Bill and Olivia, our Umbrella Cockatoo parents, were happiest when raising babies Mom felt it was time for them to enjoy parenthood where they could live in a more natural setting. So they went to live with Mom's breeder friend. They were given a large outside aviary with lots of shade trees and a big flight. Mom doesn't part well with creatures she loves so it was pretty hard. But knowing Bill and Olivia would be able to live their lives in a more natural way took a little of the pain away. In return, Mom's friend gave her a handsome male Greenwing Macaw youngster named Rodney to help fill the void when Bill and Olivia moved to greener pastures. On a happy note, Rodney and Rosebud met, bonded and now live happily together.
The Florida Birds
Our stay in Florida lasted for 6 years before we all returned Southern California in 2000. While we lived in Florida a few more parrots joined the family. To some it might seem obsessive to have more birds join the family. Perhaps it was obsessive, but Mom was thinking about us at this point -- more than about herself. After living with us for so many years her philosophy changed somewhat. By that I mean, she really wanted us to live as natural as possible. Since living inside a human environment is about as unnatural as it is possible to be, Mom thought if we had companions of our own kind to share time with it might help. Several of our bird family already had companions and it was working out really well. So It was with that experience to draw on that Sadie, a Blue and Gold Macaw joined us.
Sadie, The Blue and Gold Macaw
Like with any interest the more you learn the more your perspective changes. And Mom's philosophy about keeping parrots was changing. She decided to find a companion of our own kind for most of us to live with, as I mentioned. The intention wasn't for breeding, but rather for companionship. Anyway, that's the reason we bought a young Blue and Gold Macaw, Sadie to live with our older macaw, Bailey. Bailey and Sadie have become a bonded pair. To be honest, Bailey wasn't thrilled with another Blue and Gold Macaw showing up on his doorstep, so to speak. He had been raised to weaning without bird companions and accepted humans as his family, not other birds. But as time passed, Bailey became curious about Sadie and before too long they were able to be housed together. Now, Bailey loves Sadie and doesn't like her to be out of his sight. He constantly grooms her, feeds her and shows his devotion by rubbing his cheek against hers. He is totally smitten. Interestingly, both these birds are still great companions for humans while being quite devoted to each other. A happy story for all, indeed.
David Jeffrey ... How I Joined The Family
Hey, I forgot to mention where I fit into this picture. Remember what I said about Mom never winning anything. She was always amazed at winning the bird raffle. Well, she won something else -- two round-trip airline tickets to anywhere in the continental U.S. Hmmm! Now how could she put that to good use. Oh yes! She could fly back out to California and visit her friend, the lady breeding parrots. And guess what? Her friend was hand-feeding 2 adorable Hyacinth chicks. Yep, one of those adorable guys was me. It's funny for me to talk about Hyacinths, but I understand that a lot of bird lovers dream about having a Hyacinth Macaw. Yep, another one of those dreams -- it was Mom's dream, too. It was a remote dream she never expected to come true, but couldn't resist a desire to take me home even though I was in pretty rough feather in those early days. I loved to roll around and play and my feathers sure were a mess. If you've ever seen a baby macaw after weaning you can appreciate what I mean. Anyway, Mom flew back home thinking she was insane to even consider spending so much money. I guess we cost a lot. Anyway, you know how it turned out . . . somehow she convinced herself that she could gather the money to pay for me. The other airline ticket she'd won brought her back out to California to pick me up. I was still small enough that I could fit under her seat on the plane. I was put in a box specially built to hold me. There was one thing good about all my roughhouse play -- all my tail feathers were broken. So my travel box was short enough to go under the passenger seat of the airplane. Although I was hatched in Northern California my first official home was in Florida. Learn more about David.
Duncan and Daisy, the Golden Conures
Since I got side-tracked there for a minute . . . let's get back to the breeding farm where Mom found Sadie. While she was there she took a tour of all the aviaries. Her breeder friend had recently visited this breeding farm and saw a baby Queen of Bavaria Conure (Golden Conure) and bought it. While driving back to California they got to know the little gal and just raved about her. Before they got back home they told Mom that a Golden Conure would make a perfect companion parrot for Mom's husband. So Mom couldn't resist taking a look at these highly endangered parrots. With Mom's luck there was one weaned baby who hadn't been put out in the aviary with it's siblings. He was still in the nursery and was getting a lot of attention from the handfeeders. So he was really people-oriented and cute as a button. It was another one of those couldn't resist situations, so Duncan, the Golden Conure came home, along with Sadie, the Blue and Gold Macaw.
While learning about Golden Conures Mom discovered they are prone to feather picking. But, keeping them in pairs reduced that potential problem. So off she went in search of an unrelated Golden Conure baby. Shortly Daisy joined Duncan.
Well, we're almost at the end of how the flight crew part of our family grew.
A Beautiful African Grey named Alice Marie
Not too long before moving back to California a friend (who was a Avain Health Tech) asked Mom if she would be interested in adopting a four-year old African Grey. The Grey had come to the vet hospital with aspergillosis and was totally immune suppressed. Fortunately, she responded to treatment for the aspergillosis, but wasn't regaining her immunity. So Mom's Avian Tech friend had taken the little Grey to her own home to give her a stress-free environment to recover. After 4 months the Grey was back to perfect health and needed a new permanent home because her previous owner was seriously ill. After a lot of thought Mom said yes, she would take her. So our avian family reached lucky 13 when sweet Alice Marie came home.
That's All, Folks!
That' it. That is how our family of parrots came to together. I mentioned this all started in 1985 and continues today. Actually, the story needs to be updated and I think that will happen when time allows. Mom can tell you what it's like to have all of us and you're invited to contact her via the contact form or phone number on this website's Customer Service Center page. But speaking for us, I must say we're a pretty well-adjusted group. We all live together with the exception of Alice Marie, Harry and Isabel and Mikey (more later about their youngster, Mikey). Those African parrots are separated from the rest of us because we have moments were we just love to express our love of life by creating a lot of noise. Afterall, what do you expect . . . we're parrots! Mom thinks it's a bit much for the sensitive types ... which certainly describes Alice. As for the Jardines -- they aren't as sensitive, not in a Grey-way, but they are gifted talkers. To be honest, Mom likes birds to talk rather than scream so she doesn't think its a good idea to give the Jardine's "noise" to imitate. Rightly so!
Where We Live
The rest of us live in a room adapted for us the size of a 3-car garage. We have special lighting that does it's best to duplicate sunlight, perches hanging from the ceiling, playgyms, windows to watch the outside world and, of course, our cages. All in all, it isn't a bad environment even if it isn't the same as wild parrots enjoy. But we do spend some time outside on a sheltered deck to enjoy the trees and flowers and fresh air. Fagan really loves flowers . . . well, he likes to prune them. He is drawn to Begonia blossoms like bees to honey. We can't stay outside all the time, of course, but when the weather is warm we head to the deck for awhile. Its a great place to have a bath and dry in the warm sun. Life is pretty good.
BIRD WATCHING! Does your interest in birds reach beyond the parrot family? Backyard bird watching and bird feeding is a lot of fun. We hope you'll share our interest in bird watching by strolling through our website, BirdHouseGarden.com (currently under construction).
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