Our aviary is home to six exotic parrots: five Amazons and one Congo African Grey. We built an addition on the house specifically so the birds would have their own dedicated room where their noise and mess would not disturb the guests. Guests are welcome to come visit the aviary when accompanied by either Mitch or I. The aviary is located at the rear of the house beyond the kitchen. Once the aviary was completed we allowed the bird’s flight feathers to grow back in and taught them all to fly. They now enjoy scheduled playtime outside of their individual cages twice a day where they are free to interact and fly about at will.
Buddy Love, a Blue Front Amazon, was our first parrot. He was purchased in 1998. I had seen him for sale at a pet store while shopping for dog food. They let me hold him. I fell in love immediately. It was very near my birthday so I went home and told Mitch that I wanted this parrot for my birthday. He asked how much. When I muttered the cost (well above $1000) he just laughed at me. My birthday came the following week and by the evening it became apparent that Mitch had forgotten all about it. When I said with a pout “happy birthday to me”, he gasped and said sheepishly “lets go look at that parrot you wanted”. That is how Buddy Love came to live with us. A guilt present that changed our lives.
Buddy Love (the star of most of the pictures, identifiable by the blue above his beak) is the best talker of our parrots. Having spent a year alone with us he was more apt to speak “English” to communicate with us, his flock. His vocabulary includes singing “You are my Sunshine” as well as his favorite phrase at evening cuddle time “Momma’s sleepy boy, oh yeah!” He loves to wrestle and tickle and have his belly kissed.
Pica (a.k.a Peek-a-boo) came in 1999. She is a Red Lored Amazon (which is on the endangered species list) of indeterminate age. We bought her as a companion for Buddy Love, and to save her from the substandard conditions she was living in. Wherever Pica goes, Buddy is sure to be close behind. He fell in love with her immediately and would defend her to the death. Our death, that is. When they are out for playtime together, there is no touching Buddy Love. His is all dominant male trying to impress his woman and keep all others away from her. Pica very rarely talks. She only has three phrases that we know of: “no bite”, “Dinah won’tcha blow (your horn)” and “Peek-a-boo”. Pica allows Buddy to adore her and preen her, but otherwise he is out of luck.
Ruby Red is also a Red Lored Amazon. Her hatch date is approximately 1999. She was less than one year old when she came to us, a dull colored introvert who had been abandoned at a pet store. She was completely distrustful of people, shy, quiet and kept to herself. Since coming to live with us, Ruby has changed personalities twice now. First she developed confidence and bonded with me, taking pets and cuddles, enjoying hanging out in the sewing room while I worked on quilts or ironed. Then, once the aviary was completed and Ruby developed the skill to fly, she became “The Enforcer”, a self-appointed ruler and tattletale. Ruby will dive-bomb any bird she feels is crossing the line or annoying me or her. She is the first to announce quite loudly that something is amiss or someone is misbehaving. We sometimes refer to her as the “Bitch of the Branch”. And her colors – well she developed lilac down the top of her head and these beautiful yellow cheeks, her green feathers capture every shade imaginable and become luminescent in the right light. Can’t help but love her, mouth and all.
Sunny is a plump Double Yellow-headed Amazon and the oldest of the flock. He came from the worst situation of all, poorly mistreated and abused. His age is at least 30 (the Vet said he has developed cataracts) but could be 50 for all we know. Sunny has parts of toes missing on both feet and a patch of featherless skin on one side of his face. He was in the paper for sale, and when I saw this poor boy and the conditions in which he lived I paid his ransom and got him out of there. Sunny will probably never develop an English vocabulary, but he does try to sing at sing-along time. He doesn’t know he only makes ugly noises. And we don’t tell him. He will snuggle on my shoulder and take pets until my hand goes numb. When Sunny isn’t trying to kill Mitch, he tolerates him. Sunny is the grandfather of the group, he gets along with every bird and is just glad to have a happy home.
Gizmo is our grey sheep of the family. All the other birds are green, so Gizmo is the outcast. The Congo African Grey is supposed to be the best talker; I guess she took her name too literally. She makes all sorts of noises; telephone, a truck backing up (beep-beep-beep) smoke detectors going off (now that’s annoying), meow, and will even whistle for the dog and bark. She can whistle the Adams family song including the finger clicks, and finish a phone call with “Ok bye-bye, beep”. She loves her daddy and Mitch can make all the same noises. Gizmo was just four months old when we bought her in August of 2000.
Sassy is bird number six and our third Red Lored. She is the youngest of the flock and also the sweetest. Her hatch date was May 2001 and she came home as a Christmas present to us. I was once again at the pet store to buy supplies (you’d think I’d learn my lesson) and there was this darling little Amazon in a cage all alone while several other birds were playing together in an aviary. I carried her around the store as I did my shopping and she snuggled up against me under my chin and took many pets. Sassy Amazing for a strange baby bird. The sales staff said she had come from another store where she didn’t sell for a few months. How could no one want this bird!? I called Mitch on his cell phone and asked him to come to the store immediately to meet her. You guessed it, she snuggled under his chin and came home with us that night.
As soon as she arrived home she took to Ruby (Bitch of the Branch) but Ruby would not have anything to do with her. Through consistent persuasion Sassy was able to work her way into Ruby’s heart. Now you can find them preening each other on top of Ruby’s cage. Sassy is the only one we let the guests hold because she is so sweet. If she doesn’t want to be held she will let you know by biting her own leg and flying away. She is so cute!