Monday, May 20, 2013

The Downside of Being a Parrot Person

When we saw the kid walking up the sidewalk with a parrot cage in his hand we immediately knew he was headed for our door. No other possible destination. We didn't even wait for the doorbell.

Argentino and Rainbow needed a new home. They couldn't stay in their current home because the people just didn't have time for them any more. Sigh! How many times have we heard that before. That wasn't a question.

They sent the kid over with the Budgies because the parents were probably too embarrassed to deliver the  birds. The kid admitted that the folks even thought about setting the birds free. Yeah, right. Free to do what, exactly? That is a question. At least they came to their senses and remembered the parrot people around the corner. Hard not to know we're here. You can hear the macaws a block away when the windows are open. And we're frequent visitors to the neighborhood park, so the kids know us even if the parents don't. Our Diva parrot and Greenwing macaw Roxanne just loves hanging out at the park with the kids and swinging on the kiddie swings. Needless to say, we're convinced Argentino and Rainbow would have been set loose (we won't say free) if we had not agreed to take the birds.

Rainbow (left) and Argentino

With the ceaseless chatter of a pair of Budgie parrots added to the squawking of our macaws, greys, and one lone cockatoo, we contacted the circle of parrot people our parrot rescue, Northwest Parrots Fund, works with. We quickly found someone to adopt our temporary house guests.

Our road to establishing a parrot rescue group was surprisingly short, and not a route we ever expected to travel when we got our first parrot, Roxanne. Roxanne, named after the Sting song.

You don't have to put on the red light
Those days are over
You don't have to sell your body to the night

We only ever intended to get the one parrot. We got Roxanne back in the last century from a Microsoftie who got divorced, quit his job with Microsoft, and was moving to California with a new girlfriend. The girlfriend gave him an ultimatum. Her or the parrot. In our opinion, he made the wrong choice, but we got Roxanne.

It didn't take long for the neighbors to brand us as the parrot people. Roxanne was so easy going we figured this parrot thing was a piece of cake. So when we heard about a Blue and Gold macaw named Bubba that a retired couple were going to unload on a parrot breeder, we bought the parrot to save her from a life stuck in a barn.

Now we had two parrots. For several years we operated Seattle's original Parrot Cafe. One weekend a lady dropped off a male Blue and Gold macaw named Aboo. She just needed us to watch the bird for the weekend. Okay. What did we look like? An animal shelter? We were a coffee shop for chrissakes, but we said okay anyway. Surprise, surprise! She never came back. The weekend turned into a week. Then a month. We learned from others that Aboo was considered unmanageable and unhandleable. Well, years later Aboo is still with us. Quite manageable and handleable!

We started getting calls from people asking what they could do with the parrots they could no longer care for. We told them definitely not to bring the parrots to the cafe. But we needed to help them find new homes for their birds. We started building a network of parrot people willing to foster or adopt parrots. We helped some people find new homes for their parrots. We even fostered a few parrots while we searched for new homes. We became a de facto parrot rescue. It was only a matter of time before we formalized our work and established a 501(c)3 nonprofit charity, Northwest Parrots Fund, registered as a charity with the State of Washington. The rest of the story, as they say, is the rest of the story. Some other time maybe.

Thankfully, Rainbow and Argentino are settled into their new home with a terrific parrot person who already had two Budgie parrots. Rainbow and Argentino are males. The other two Budgies are females. This should get interesting.

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