August 2001 Magazine
It was a slow summer day in our veterinary clinic in southern California. Our veterinarian was out for the rest of the afternoon and the other technicians and I had housekeeping and nursing duties to attend to. Our receptionist came into the back and said, "Lisa, I have a call you need to take"!
On the phone was a hysterical woman saying there was a big parrot in their country club and the construction workers were trying to kill it with a fire hose. With nothing pressing at the clinic after grabbing towels, a net, and some seed and nuts and a crate, I left with another technician in tow and headed out to assess the situation .
Upon arrival at the gates, one of the security guards told us she had seen the parrot for the last few days and was going to catch it herself and sell it to a local pet store. I knew that we had to catch this bird before someone killed it or worse.
We located the area of the construction workers and were greeted with laughter, and predicitions that in no way were we going to catch this bird. All of a sudden I heard her. Loud nervous calls came from a 50 foot palm tree over our heads. I finally got a look at her, it was a miligold macaw hybrid. She looked to be of good weight and feather. She flew to another tree, checking us out the whole time. We placed the seed and nuts on the ground for her to see and talked quietly to her. There was no way we were going to get her out of a tree with the net we had and with no ladder. Patience was all we had on our side. She didn't fly too far and seemed very interested in these people that were talking parrot talk to her.
I sat in a clearing next to some low trees and started eating the peanuts - verbalizing to her the whole time how yummy and fresh they were. Walnuts were next. I grabbed my nut cracker and started on a walnut. This was too much for her to bear and she swooped into one of the low trees next to me. I continued my snack, acting as if her presence had no bearing on my feast. Slowly she came lower. I looked up and held a peanut in the air and she sat perfectly still. I slowly came to my feet and approached the tree - still no fear, just curiosity. I had a towel over each shoulder and told everyone that had gathered to watch this show to stay back and be quiet.
I finally got to a large low branch and sat on it, still eating the peanuts. I held one out to her and she took it from my hand. I decided that this must be a pet bird and very possibly the "up" command would work. I firmly gave her the up command and she firmly grabbed my thumb with her large beak and clamped on. Blood was running down my finger as she just stared into my eyes. With my other hand I reached around my back and grabbed the towel. With a quick fling that would have made a rodeo roper proud, the towel was over her head. It startled her enough to make her let go of my thumb and I had her.
I quietly placed her into the crate, still wrapped in the towel. Cheers rose from the crowd and tears flowed from my eyes. The tears were a combination of elation, pain, and adrenaline. Once we got back to the clinic I took her out of the crate. I then realized why she wouldn't come up on my hand. All but one toe was severely damaged from what appeared to be frostbite. There was no band or microchip. We drew blood, took some cultures and got a fecal sample.
I sat in the chair with her in the towel and she was very relaxed. When I removed the towel she came flying at my face. I had just enough time to think of that beak attached to my nose with she same force she had placed on my finger. The next thing I knew, her head was buried under my chin. She then wrapped her wings around my arms. I couldn't believe what was happening. She stayed in that position, totally relaxed, for about five minutes before she fell asleep.
My co-workers started making calls to try and find the owners. Ads were placed everywhere to no avail. She was living in my home and was the sweetest bird I could imagine. After two months with no one claiming her, she was my bird. We named her Sunny after the Country Club we caught her in. She loved everyone, as long as they didn't try to get her to "up" on their hands. She would go up on an arm with no problems.
Sunny was a very happy bird. When Sam, a one legged blue and gold macaw, came to live with us her life changed again. She was in love. Sam had lost his leg from an injury that occurred in a cage at a local hotel. He was going to be put down but the veterinarian at the emergency clinic asked that they release him and give us a chance to save him. Sam was not a pet to say the least, He didn't really know what human companionship was, but he sure did know that he liked Sunny too!
Sunny and Sam spent the rest of their lives together as a happy couple. It saddened me to lose my pet, but in the long run, their happiness was what mattered. It's funny though how everything happens for a reason. Three months after placing Sunny and Sam together Raffles came into our lives. But that's another story.....
Winged Wisdom Note: Lisa was a long time veterinary techinican who is now disabled. She founded the Coachella Valley Exotic Bird Rescue in 1995 and has now devoted her life to the birds. She is owned by three cockatoos and two macaws.
A pet bird ezine, pet bird e-zine, for pet parrots & exotic birds. Cockatoo Parrot picture courtesy of Glasgow Enterprises
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Cockatoo Parrot picture courtesy of Glasgow Enterprises