Saturday, November 26, 2005

Fagan, my Moluccan Cockatoo

While searching the Internet I ran across the website for a parrot rescue organization. Although these folks take in all species of neglected and abused parrots, they were founded to aid cockatoos ... especially Moluccan Cockatoos. It always makes me feel hopeful for the birds out there that need saving to know that organizations like this exist. After seeing this website I decided to share my thoughts about living with Cockatoos.

Living with a Moluccan Cockatoo (among a number of other birds) for the past 21 years I understand how Moluccan's and other cockatoos can, under the wrong circumstances, end up in need of saving. Although they are among the most intelligent and beautiful parrots, they can be very demanding and most can be extremely loud. However, there is nothing sweeter, more lovable and cuddly and beautiful than a Moluccan cockatoo baby ... or any Cockatoo, for that matter. They are so easy to spoil. And that may be the problem ... spoiling and not setting guidelines for good behavior. Well, there is another major problem too ... new owners that dote on a baby bird and then "get back to normal" which means there isn't enough time to give the bird the attention it has grown to expect. You understand why you don't have time ... but they certainly don't.

Although I didn't buy Fagan on impulse, many people do buy a parrot that way. They see a beautiful bird and just can't leave the store without it. Bad decision. While not all birds that are purchased this way end up victims, many do. It is those birds that need rescue by good people like those that run Mollywood, the organization I previously mentioned. Please visit Mollywood's website. I think it is important to see what abuse and neglect can do to a pet bird. But don't be disheartened by those you'll visit at Mollywood because the good news is you'll see how well they are now loved and taken care of. Who knows, they may touch your heart enough for you to find a way to give Mollywood a little support.

There isn't a bird more loved than my Moluccan, Fagan. How he, and all the parrots in my family, came to live with me is another story. As loved as Fagan is, it hasn't always been a bed of roses living with him. I made the mistake of not setting guidelines in the beginning. So when he reached sexual maturity I had my hands full. We've had our ups and downs. Once I discovered the Pet Bird Report years ago (now known as the Companion Parrot Quarterly) I was able to form a plan to overcome the challenges Fagan gave me. But I should have educated myself beforehand. Over the years, with kindness instead of abuse for doing things wrong, Fagan has learned to live with rules. He's learned to adapt to a domesticated lifestyle. I know ... in a way that is sad. It's only because these essentially wild creatures are so highly adaptable that they can live in our homes, in the first place. Truthfully, as much as I always want to be with my parrots I also regret that they can't live the natural life they were intended for.

Fagan is a wild caught bird. There isn't much doubt he was brought into captivity as a baby and I bought him when he was approximately between 6-12 months old. From the very first he was so loving ... certainly not the typical wild caught bird. I was mezmerzied and fascinated ... my dream of having a Moluccan Cockatoo had come true. Seems funny to think back on those early days because I didn't realize at the time that setting guidelines and boundaries for Fagan was absolutely essential to raising a disciplined and well-behaved parrot. I guess that is why I get on my soapbox once in awhile. I really want everyone considering bringing a parrot into their home to understand that it is essential to educate themselves before making that decision. Trust me when I say that you will save yourself a lot of trouble, and save a parrot from unnecessary sadness and grief, if you make the right decisions.

Over the years I've learned a lot about parrots and they've taught me a lot about myself. I count myself among the fortunate to have lived with them ... but it hasn't always been easy. It takes a lot of sacrifice and I think that is what people should know. But then having any pet, or doing any activity takes some form of sacrifice. However, parrots may offer unexpected challenges you won't be prepared to endure, if you don't do some homework. If you decide to buy a parrot be sure to choose a species that is a perfect fit for you, where you live, and your lifestyle. If you really want a bird you may discover your "dream bird" might not be the best fit ... so offer a loving home to the one that is.

Pet birds offer a wonderous life experience if you'll just offer them a good, permanent home ... and go about it the right way.

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