The Ones That Got Away

There have been times in my life as a bird rescuer and breeder that I have not gotten the bird or birds offered to me. Some times that is due to the offer being in jest.

At a party, someone I had just met that evening said his brother had a macaw they all hated, and he could probably get it for me for free. Luckily, I am smart enough to know that, first of all, I was not in any position to take in and care for a scarlet macaw, no matter how much I may have wanted to. Second, the owner of the macaw was not available for comment, but having spent at least a thousand dollars on the creature, he would surely want to get something back in a transaction like this. It didn’t take my husband’s firm “No!” to convince me.

Sometimes people want to hook me up with a breeder nearby who has a bird I might like and will give me a good price on a breeding pair. Someone in Arizona has kakarikis that I could have bought if only I could get there and have the money and the special diet for these beauties. Well, special diet isn’t so much the right term as widely varied diet. The author of this page includes 20 different types of food per day for her flock. (

My bird buddy Fred, who gave me Jordan and Maynard, knew a breeder of cockatiels who was downsizing and had many albino tiels to rehome. While he was a local breeder, and the money was not so much of an issue then, I still didn’t know where to put any more cockatiels. And I have several albinos, so I had to decline.

A couple years ago, a friend contacted me through Facebook and gave me the name and phone number of someone she knew. This friend had gone through a divorce, was changing jobs, and moving to another state. Talk about overload in the stress department! She didn’t want to subject her parrots to the change, so she was looking for an adoptive home for a pair of Mexican red-headed Amazon parrots.

I was hesitant, having no real love of Amazons at the time. All I had heard or experienced about them was that they were all biters. I did know one sweet lady with a lilac crown Amazon who was gentle for her, but could not be handled by anyone else. But the moving friend of a friend sounded desperate, so I called her.

Our phone conversation was not good. I felt nervous and on the spot, and wished she would just tell me what she wanted me to do. If I couldn’t accommodate her instructions, that would not be a problem. The sticking point seemed to be the diet for these birds. They were given everything the lady ate, no seed to speak of, lots of fruit and veggies and pellets. Well, I have been trying to move my birds from a seed diet to more fresh foods and some pellets, but we haven’t managed it yet. They get fruit and greens at least once a week, but need so much more than that.

Arrangements were made for the woman to come and see my birds and our home. I felt very nervous. We do not clean the cages as often as some people might. We clean the trays of seed and droppings every week, but don’t always have time to vacuum the floor around the cages. I hope some day to purchase a steam cleaner so that I can whip through the finch cages. Why are finches the dirtiest of birds? They poop constantly, everywhere, and just scraping the cage bottom isn’t enough to make things clean. This is predominantly the reason I cut back on my finches and don’t breed them anymore. Without the ability to really keep things clean, the chicks don’t do well.

I told my friend that I was pretty sure we would not be chosen to foster the Mexican red-headed Amazons for her friend, because the house was not very clean. My friend could not believe that this would be a consideration, since her friend had to rehome them in a limited time, and besides I worked full time. That should shift the balance in my favor.

The friend was polite but distant. She took the tour, which I love to give. People walk into our living room and exclaim at the conures and cockatiels. Then I ask if they want to see the bird room. Once they have had a chance to see the canaries, finches, love birds, and Indian Ring Neck, I offer the outside aviaries. Which requires us to move through the office and see Jake, and the African Greys. (Now it includes Maynard, but this was before we had him.) She liked the outside aviaries, but as we went back in, and said our good-byes, I knew better than to expect a call from her.

I have to say she was considerate enough to call and tell me that she had a sister who really wanted to take the birds, and if that should change, she would get back to me. Ah, well. There’s a good reason, I am sure, that the pair went to someone their owner trusted. She did hate to be giving them up at all.

On the brink of a personal crisis, I know I will be looking for good homes for some of my birds soon. I have about a dozen I could not live without. But can we find a place to live that we can afford on my income, and that will not mind the birds? It’s a puzzle but not one I can spend much time on. These things always work out in the end, but we don’t know how. It’s a mystery.


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