- by Daisy Mae Delray, columnist and registered seizure alert dog
I’d like to introduce you to a couple of new friends of mine. This gorgeous Blue-Fronted Green Amazon Parrot goes by the name of Handsome Jack.
Puppy Dog Tales
Both of these birds lived in Georgia. When their owner Raymond died unexpectedly in December 2015 they moved here to Mississippi to live with Mark and Lael Butler. Mark is Raymond’s brother so Mark and Leah had known the boys for more than 15 years.
Mark told me that it hasn’t been easy for him and Lael, or the parrots — or their three dogs. First, the physical reality of moving them from Georgia to Mississippi, the very strangeness of a new home with large and loud dogs, and Mark and Lael as newbie parrot parents. But they say it has been a rewarding journey despite the challenges.
“Although we’ve known the birds for 15-plus years, it is really different to be their caretaker, providing fresh fruit and veggies, two per day along with fresh water and seeds, fresh paper in their individual crates as well as the floor of their brand new aviary. In the living room, no less!” Mark told me.
I know there are lots of parrots around, and I did some research. Did you know that there are 372 species of parrots? They are mostly tropical, subtropical and come from areas of South- and Central America, Asia, Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Species include: Macaws, Amazons, Keas, Kakas, Lorikeets, Parakeets, Love Birds and Cockatoos. Because of their beauty and intelligence, parrots are one of the most popular pets in the world.
Humans learn a great deal by studying parrots. Dr. Irene Pepperberg conducted a 30-year study on parrots with her first hero parrot, Alex. She wrote about her study in the book “Alex and Me: How a Scientist and a Parrot Discovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence — and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process.”
Back to our friends Handsome Jack and Teddy Boy. Mark told me about the evening routine.
“Fast forward to the end of day ritual, and you’re exhausted, but the aviary needs cleaning because the boys chew wood and toss food; the water and seed mix needs refreshing and you’re thinking of a large donation to the Audubon Zoo along with two parrots. … that’s when Handsome Jack says ‘nite-nite buddy’ followed quickly by ‘see you in the morning.’ And you melt, and say it right back with a tear and catch in your throat. Raymond loved his birds and they loved him and now I feel they love us too.”
Mark tells me that each day is a treasure, the boys learning more words and phrases in English and other languages. They already speak Korean and understand some Spanish.
To learn more about these wonderful birds and how they have bonded with humans please check out these websites:
National Geographic Parrot page
ParrotParrot Species Guide
Gentle readers, keep your tail high and your feet dry.
Love, Daisy Mae