Sunday, August 5, 2007

Beaks, Wings, and Shrieks

Sarah Becker is an amazing woman. Besides being my neighbor, she is also an adoptive mother, a cancer survivor, and a member of Beak N Wings: a non-profit bird club that rescues and places exotic birds in the KC Metro area. Sarah has three parrots: Zoe, Sebastian and Ferguson, and I've gotten to know them in the past few weeks. It turns out that parrots are completely freaking awesome!

But on top of the fabulousness of the birds themselves is Sarah's incredible patience with them. Choosing to keep a parrot is a major decision that shouldn't be taken lightly. Parrots have lifespans that rival humans', their care needs are very specific, and many are endangered species: all reasons why becoming a parrot-owner is a heavy undertaking. When you realize that Sarah and her club members add caring for injured and traumatized birds to their list of things to worry about, what they do becomes even more impressive.

Sebastian is the poor, battered-looking green and gray parrot being held my Sarah in the above picture. He looks like that because of his emotional distress problems, which cause him to pluck out his own feathers when stressed. Sarah adopted Sebastian through Beak N Wings when his previous owners could no longer care for him properly. At this point, he was practically bald except for his head. Sebastian's still working on the whole relaxation thing, but he's doing better. Sometimes I can even pet him, but he prefers Sarah.

Sarah only accidentally adopted Ferguson, but it was a happy accident. He had been put up for sale on Craigslist at a price much too low for such an exotic bird (a Goffin Cockatoo), so Sarah called up the owner to advise him. After a few conversations during which the owner was convinced to take his posting down, Sarah drove out of state to meet him and to see if she could convince him to give Ferguson to Beak N Wings for adoption.

In the end, Ferguson was gifted to Sarah and is now her cuddliest feathered child. More mellow than a Goffin should be, Ferguson will chill out on your shoulder, stomach, or chest and fluff his feathers while looking at you like you're the best thing that's ever happened to him. Not even men can resist his good-natured charm! Basically, Fergie is about as perfect as a parrot can get.

Zoe is a hell-raiser and she is my favorite, partially because she goes crazy with self-love and displays herself with silly little dances and ear-piercing screams (she's in the middle of doing so in the picture to the left). Zoe is the only parrot Sarah owns that she purchased instead of rescuing, and it's possible that her transparent selfishness is an unfortunate, yet amusing, by-product of being well-cared-for all her life.

Zoe - an Umbrella Cockatoo - is always looking for a new way to be impressive and she will spend as much time as you let her climbing up and down your arms, shoulders, body, chair, etc. checking out what you're all about, making sure you are 100% aware of her existence, trying to groom you, and generally being adorably invasive.

I'm so happy to have gotten to know these birds. Especially since I never had any interaction with any type of intelligent pet birds and never knew how incredible they could be. And, as an added bonus, I get to be constantly impressed with Sarah's knowledge and patience. That is always awesome.

If you'd like to know more about Beak N Wings visit their website or donate here.
If you'd like to know more about parrots in general, start with the
World Parrot Trust.

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