Maitri Libellule
"To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world."

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
The Little Prince

My "Angel" Baby Girl ~ Feathers plucked
down her chest and back...

Other side, Angel's gigantic nose hole where
a large blue and gold macaw nearly bit her
clean through. Look at her other side to see
how little it should be. Her beak is also
cracked on that side. She could have died.

"Petey, Petey, Peter Pan" (that's what I call him,
and after only 3 days he says, "Petey Pannnnn...").
His chest and back are almost completely plucked.

I have been rescuing and rehabbing parrots for nigh on twenty years. I had a non-profit shelter for disabled and unwanted parrots and had them shipped to me from as far away as Hawaii. They came paralyzed, limbless and more. A great many came from people who said that they were "mean" and "completely unhandleable." They told me I would never tame them. I did, and they became sweet, loving companions. It took months for some, and people just don't want to take the time. It takes time, patience, and a whole lot of love. These two came three days ago abused, frightened to death, they had been in a glass enclosure, housed together, were plucking and beating one another up, and NO perches to sit on. They now are housed separately and have lots of toys, branches, swings and more, and have a good diet and lots of love. Angel sat on my shoulder for 2 hours yesterday just loving and preening me. She was the one nearly killed by a Blue and Gold macaw (and how they got that close to one another I don't want to think about). It is a miracle that she survived.

They were with the same family for 5 years, belonged to the son, and he moved off and left them with his mother who had no idea what to do with them and was afraid of them. They were put in a dark back room and left there, fed and given water, but little else and no attention. Parrots are very feeling, very intelligent animals. They need lots of things to chew and play with and they need lots of time out of their cage, and to be loved and cherished. Too many people get parrots because they are "cool" or pretty, or exotic, or whatever, and haven't a clue what to do with them, end up not taking care of them correctly, the bird gets frightened, begins to bite, pluck, and the worse it gets the more the owner doesn't want to deal with the poor little soul who then gets passed around from one household to another until the parrots are so terrified and wary they do act like what we think of as "mean," but they have been abused, neglected, have become frightened, and some have given up hope and mourned themselves to death.

Buying a parrot is meant for the bird savvy person who has had many other smaller birds, and worked their way up to a parrot and done a lot of reading and study before they buy one. They also need to commit themselves to keeping the bird and working with them and loving them through all circumstances, barring emergencies and heart-breaking situations (for both the bird and owner) when they cannot be kept.

So yes, in the period of time ahead I imagine I will be bitten a lot, but I sit calmly, always talk to them softly, and slowly, barely above a whisper, "lower my energy," and sit calmly with them. Sometime I just sit a few feet away from them and meditate. They have to get used to your presence. You have to gain their trust. Trust is hard won and easily lost with parrots, and a person who has won the love and trust of a parrot has been honored and blessed beyond measure.

Angel and Petey came to me and he flew right to me and sat on my shoulder and started preening my hair. He was the one of whom she said "Nobody can tame that bird." (And truth be told he has since bitten the hoo-ha out of me on the hands when I feed him and get fresh water. If you are going to tame parrots you need to keep on hand a good supply of hydrogen peroxide, Bactine, Neosporin, bandaids and arnica gel.) Right now my hands are bitten up and turning purple just for trying to feed him. But I did not raise my voice, I did not act harshly, I put him back in his cage, closed the door, said, "No biting Petey," and left. Later I came back and sat outside of his cage and crooned to him softly and he talked to me and seemed much calmer. I have heard of people screaming and slinging a little parrot across the room or worse for having been bitten.

Rule # 1: Don't get a parrot if you are not prepared to be bitten.

You WILL get bitten at some time or other with the best birds, even those who are loving companions. They are wary animals, just a generation away from the wild, not like dogs and cats who have been domesticated for millennia, and they retain their wild characteristics. And their beaks, if you will, are their only line of defense. Also, you become their "mate" and they are very protective of you. They may become very aggressive around other people, or even nip you if they feel imminent danger. In the wild a parrot will nip his mate so she will fly off to safety. It is their natural instinct. You must remain vigilant and keep the situation calm and safe for everyone at all times. It is your obligation to those you love as well as the parrot himself.

I have 4 little pugs that came from a rescue, and they were elderly or infirm when they arrived. My wee little black Babsy is almost blind now, and completely deaf. She is nearly 14. Coco, 13, is deaf, and my little Sampson and Harvey, nearly 11 and 10, were so abused that Sam sticks to me like glue and Harvey is very timid. But the lot of them have come around and we are a family.

At first it was thought that these two little macaws should be separated and go to different homes. It quickly became apparent that while they may have beaten one another up in the same cage, they were very bonded. They were raised together as babies and have lived together for 5 years. They call to one another, they talk to one another, to seperate them would be cruel. Also, he is going to be a real handful and a long term job to "tame" and once I do he is going to depend on me. That is not the time to foist him off on someone else, even the best of homes.

I take animal rescue very seriously, and consider it to be one of the most important parts of my rather unusual ministry. God gives everyone gifts. Every one of us. I have had the gift since I was very young to work with animals, and I do not take this lightly. I follow the work of St. Francis, even though mine is an interfaith ministry that accepts and opens it's arms to everyone of all faiths and beliefs. Part of my "congregation" are animals of all sorts. I don't find this odd or unusual, though many people are going to think a lot of what I do as a minister is unusual. I am blessed with what I call "Direct Communion." I don't wait for God to give me signs, I talk to him all the time. I will be guided in this ministry of mine, and I hope to bring together people of all faiths, their friends, families, and animal companions. I want them all to be loved and cherished, to know that they matter, and to discover their gifts and take them out into the world. I will keep up with my work here, even as I go for the Neosporin and bandaids.

Be kind, be gentle, to everyone, most especially, the beautiful creatures of this world who cannot speak for themselves, but must come to trust us and depend on us. As Saint-Exupéry wrote, we will need one another, and we will be unique to each other in all the world. Only take in those beloved creatures you are willing to share your life with completely. They are not a "thing" to cast off when they get old or difficult (as we may be or become ourselves), they are living, sentient beings with feelings.

Angel and Petey are both sitting on their swings. They've never had such a thing. They are both completely enamored of them and spend a great deal of time on them, even though they have many branches and perches. This life is new to them, and a wonder. And I am in awe of them. Animals have much to teach us. May I always be open to their teachings...

9 Responses
  1. oblinaknit Says:

    What a wonderful new home for Angel and Petey (and a lovely post about owning pets too)!

  2. Dorothy L Says:

    What a sad and happy post. I had no idea that birds were under such distress, nor have I stop to give it much thought. Funny how we are...until something is actually calling to our attention are we aware of its desperate situation. These two little orphans are lucky to have found you...vice verse :)

  3. Anonymous Says:

    When we lived in Alexandria VA there was a parrot rescue guy who would bring the birds to show folks and you could get your picture taken for a few dollars which went to the rescue organization. He had a number of regulars and then there were some who cycled through - he would get them all healthy and happy and then adopted them out. My favorite was a white parrot, quite big and I don't remember his exact breed but the first time I saw him he was such a mess - so many feathers gone, skin irritated but he was friendly towards me and we struck up a friendship. Every weekend I would go downtown to see him, he would sit on my arm or shoulder and I would sit off to the side and we would chat and snuggle. I watched him all summer and fall get healthier and healthier. The following Spring when the parrot man again appeared I asked him where Shakespeare was (that was the parrot's name) and I was told he got adopted to a good and proper home. He was such a great bird.

  4. PinkLady Says:

    Now I see birds in a different light. Thank you for this enlightening post, Mother Maitri. I never really had any bird for a pet so I had no idea how to take care of or deal with them. Now I know better.

    I really love this new site of yours. Although I don't get to blogsurf that often anymore due to my hectic schedule, I always try to check any update on this blog. I also have something for you at my Sheepish Thoughts blog-

    I hope you will find the time soon to check it out and claim it.

    Blessings to you,

    Bing (",)

  5. fathir Says:

    Very Nice, I can easily got you point and I am enjoy it. thanks...

  6. Flo Says:

    Thank you for this wonderful post. I'm a bird person, have been for years, but it wasn't until I became president of the local parrot club that I realized what a huge problem this was. In my little over 18 months as president I have rescued 15 birds. My vice president has also rescued a number. Right now a rescued umbrella cockatoo is chewing the desk as I type this :) In the other room there are 2 Ringnecks, one a rescue, and 2 cockatiels, both rescues, running amok. It breaks my heart to see the things that people do to parrots mostly because they just don't know better. I'm so glad you have Angel and Pete now. I know there are a lot of bites in your future, but it will be well worth it. Please keep us posted on their progress.

  7. Jodi Says:

    I agree this is a sad/happy post. God bless you Maitri for doing such a wonderful service to these birds. I hope you have a wonderful and blessed weekend Maitri.

    God bless,

  8. Mariuca Says:

    Hi Maitri! Just dropping in to say hello, I see two different ads on my CMF today, did u manage to get the problem fixed? Hugs! :)

  9. Hi. I got to your site via the adgitize ad I posted on my blog. This was a great post, very informative. I'm glad you are there for the birds when no one can or wants to be :)

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