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Articles and Stories Index

Gracie's Story
Laddie
The Hyacinth Macaw - A South American Indian folktale
 
Articles Published in Companion Parrot Quarterly

Companion Parrot Quarterly, Fall Qt, 2004

My Chico By Rita Groszmann - Avian Adventures Aviary
His and Her Relationships
By Rita Groszmann and Mark Saunders—Avian Adventures Aviary
2002 issue #55
"A couple can have a very different relationship with the same bird ! this only goes to show how varied and multifaceted human/bird connections can be"
When Paco Came Into My Life
By Rita Groszmann—Avian Adventures Aviary 2002 issue #56
Breeding and Parenting Behavior in a pair of
Greenwing Macaws
   —or
Observations of a Truly Functional Relationship
By Rita Groszmann—Avian Adventures Aviary
2002 issue #57

Companion Parrot Quarterly, Fall Qt, 2004

My Chico
By
Rita Groszmann
- Avian Adventures Aviary

Chico is a male greenwing macaw from our aviary (Avian Adventures Aviary). I could not part with him and so he stayed and became part of the family. When he was little, he looked like he was perpetually smiling with a temperament to match. He has always been relaxed in his body and loves to be handled, turning into a puddle of red feathers when he has his head scritched. Chico is still a young bird (2 years old) and filled with confidence, bravado and mischief. He enjoys harassing Paco (my 4 year old blue and gold macaw) by throwing water at him from his water bowl, (their cages are next to each other) often using a piece of rope from a toy that has been carefully soaked in the water first and then flicking the wet rope at Paco, holding the rope in his beak, till Paco screams in protest. Other times he likes to climb up onto Paco's playgym and toss all of Paco's food out of his bowl, chuckling as he does it. Poor Paco will climb down from his gym and come running to me for intervention. When Chico does these things, he reminds me of a young boy who likes to harass and hear the girls scream by scaring them with snakes or other creepy, crawly things.
One of his favorite games is one that we play on the floor. I will lie on my stomach and he will take a running leap into my arms and somersault onto his back while I tickle his tummy and beak wrestle with him. Sometimes, instead of a running leap, he will hop to me like a bunny. Although his beak strength is awesome and comparable to that of a hyacinth, he is incredibly cognizant of his ability to hurt and is always gentle. Even when he gets carried away, all he needs to hear is the word "Gentle", which we taught him at a very early age, and he instantly lets go.
Another favorite game is "peek a boo". He will stretch his neck out and press his beak up against my nose. Then his eyes will pin and he will bellow out "PEEK A BOO". We both love this game and end up chuckling together. He also plays a pretty fair game of "catch". I will hand him a ball and he will toss it right back to me. His aim is always accurate. When we are finished playing, he will flip his wings out, dip his head down and say, "Take a bow".
I also have to say in all fairness, that Chico has a streak of major mischief in him. He can certainly be a force of nature when he wants something, whether it is attention, the pen in my pocket, the button on my shirt or jumping on my back from his playgym when I'm not looking while I'm sweeping the kitchen floor around the playgyms for the 5th time that day. He loves to chase the broom around the floor and if he can't do that, he will try and wrestle the broom handle away from my hands. This can be a time consuming but fun way to sweep the kitchen floor.
When I have baby greenwings in the house that have been brought in from the aviary for handfeeding, he always has to take a look at them. He recognizes that they are babies and will stretch his neck out as far as he can in their direction, pin his eyes and bellow out as loud as he can muster "HELLO, I LOVE YOU." Chico never seems to understand that he is a bit too much for the babies and always looks a little crest-fallen when they don't respond enthusiastically to his attentions.
Chico is also a tool-user and thinks things through. One of his favorite toys is a 12 oz Gatorade bottle with a couple of macadamia nuts inside that are just big enough that they won't come back out easily. This is given to him as a foot toy and he plays with it for hours. He also drops it frequently and then has to retrieve it from the bottom of his cage. I guess he got tired of doing that and I came home one day to find that he had "hung" his bottle up at perch level by stuffing cotton rope from a toy into the bottle opening until the bottle stayed hung up. I was very impressed.
All in all, Chico is the light of my life and an incredible, smart, funny, loving companion. He has more personality than almost anyone I know and makes me laugh at least once every day. I could not imagine life without him.


Gracie's Story


Well Gracie has been home now for a week and I wanted to update you on her progress. For those who don't know Gracie, she was a late baby last year (August). As the only baby with no clutch mates, Gracie had the opportunity to grow up with Rita's companion birds. From the very beginning Gracie was a very different baby. She did not read the rule book prior to hatching. Gracie did everything different! Starting with belonging to a previous owner who was diagnosed with a chronic illness, and with Gracie's best interest at heart, decided that she would not be able to take care of her. So this owner relinquished this tiny little baby to find a new home. Rita and I had spoken prior to this as I was investigating breeders and looking for that special green wing baby. To my surprise, Rita screened me, my family, my living/financial arrangements, and long term goals very closely to see if I was worthy of one of her babies. Well at that point Gracie belonged to someone else, but I passed the screening and was first on the list for the year 2004 to obtain a baby green wing. Then that wonderful day began and I got an email from Rita explaining the situation with Gracie and if I was interested she had a baby for me. Needless to say we jumped at the chance!

As Gracie began to grow and mature things started happening. She was not like most GW babies. She did not like the water bottle, and wanted to be a baby forever, and was the biggest goof ball! Weaning was not like anything that Rita and Mark had experienced. She gave us all a run for our money. Gracie showed great intelligence, and knew she wanted to stay a baby and have someone doting over her all the time. Gee who wouldn't like that right. She was a pill and wouldn't crack seeds (sun and safflower) for the longest time, but couldn't wait to get to the big seeds and all that scrumptious meat. Then the day came that Rita informed me that Gracie had an accident. While playing she had injured her toe, pretty bad I might add, but she immediately brought her to the vet and they were trying to save her toe. Now from a sellers point of view this was devastating. Rita was afraid that I would no longer want Gracie because she wasn't perfect. That was by no means the case. We had fallen in love with my little red chicken, even though we had never been with her. But we knew no matter what it took we wanted Gracie. By this time Gracie was already 5 1/2 months old and should be coming home very soon, but with this set back we were not sure when that day would come.

To make a long story short, 3 weeks of antibacterials and antifungals along with bandage changes every other day, a collar so Gracie could not pick at her injured toe anymore and make it worse, and a varikennel to control her movement, was what we had in store. There was a threat of osteomyelitis (bone infection) and possible amputation of Gracie's toes, but thanks to the wonderful care and determination by Rita, Mark, and the wonderful vets that service Avian Adventures Aviary, Gracie recovered without loosing her toe. Now back to weaning!

After recovery from this event, it was time to wean this baby that by now was 6 1/2 months old. After thinking we were in the clear, Gracie started to drop some weight and hand feeding had to resume. Was she ever gonna come home? This was all we could think. My fiancée got worried that Gracie was getting to old and bonding to much with Rita and Mark. For a split second I worried but thought I have a very special little girl coming and we will be fine.

Gracie finally came home to us on March 21st. After such a long wait and a flight across the country, that was more than 2 1/2 hours late, Gracie was home. I can tell you that Rita was a little nervous about how Gracie would react when she got here. She was now 7 months old and had been through a very tough time at such an early age. How was she going to react to these new folks. Avian Adventures prides themselves on delivering babies that love to be loved. Gracie was no exception. At first she was very frightened at the sight of us, but after singing this silly little song that Rita had sung to her for most of her life, Gracie calmed right down and was willing to take grapes from my hand. After an hours ride to her new home it was now time to come out of her travel kennel. I must confess this was a bit stressful for her. But good old Gracie Mae's personality came shinning through and she and I bonded immediately. Within less than an hour Gracie was sitting on my forearm, head down wanting to be scritched. I called Rita as soon as we got in to let her know that Gracie finally made it, and you could hear the joy in her voice as we talked on the phone that Gracie was adjusting so well. Sweet baby vocalizations, and wing flips were to be heard on the other end of the phone. She readily accepted food from my hands and was as gentle as a lamb.

Then the real adventure began. Rita had been telling me that Gracie was an exceptionally smart bird. Well I got to see that for myself. She would do absolutely anything that I asked of her as long as I explained what I wanted. Gracie was still a big baby and she trusted me enough to play with me like she did with Rita. The first time that Gracie rolled over on her back for me to tickle her tummy was such a special time for me. Gracie had never been exposed to a shower before, but when asked did she want to take a shower with me she readily mounted her shower perch and she and I had the best time "playing in the rain" as I call it. She even said " I love you". We play every day, and Gracie is making up the rules as we go. Now we play the "gonna get cha" game and we chase each other all over the house and then Gracie will just flop over like a dead chicken and want you to tickle her toes and belly. Gracie has shown me her intelligence more than once. She can already tell the difference between blue and red. When asked to select one of the colors she will be successful each and every time. She and I are very connected; it's almost scary. Like we know what the other is thinking. I had a very bad day at work and lost two babies in one 24 hour shift, (I am a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner). Gracie knew I had a bad day and that I need loving. She very gently came over to me from her play gym, climbed onto my lap and snuggled my cheek with her beak. She began making baby awking noises, and then gave me a wing hug. That made a very bad day very tolerable.

Why am I telling this story? I want everyone who is considering a new baby, be it green wing or not to do your homework. Check out the breeders and check out there statistics. Rita and Mark have done their homework; they know their business! They make promises, and they deliver! Their babies love to be loved and that is just what you get. A baby that knows nothing but love. Love from the day it leaves the nest and then through out its days with Rita, Mark and Lydia. Babies that are well adjusted, in top notch physical and mental condition, and eager to meet their new flock members. Of course price is always a consideration when making such an investment, but I am here to say that when you get a baby from Rita and Mark that you are getting way more than you ever pay for, and that is priceless!

Rita and Mark, thank you both for loving my little red chicken and preparing her for a new and wonderful life with us. Rod, Josh and myself could not be happier with Gracie. She is so much more than what we expected and look forward to a lifetime of adventures with her.

Thanks for everything!

Donna
Louisiana



 
 
 
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