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Home > News & Events > MAARSianChronicles > Issue 10: December 2004 > Happy Landings: Wacko Hits the Jackpot and Joe Meets His Match

Happy Landings

Wacko Hits the Jackpot and Joe Meets His Match

Triton Cockatoo, Wacko, poses with adopter Grace, MAARS Placement Counselor, Alayne, Grace's daughters, and Sydney, the family's Eclectus.

Triton Cockatoo, Wacko, poses with adopter Grace, MAARS Placement Counselor, Alayne, Grace's daughters, and Sydney, the family's Eclectus.

Wacko Hits the Jackpot

by Alayne Rueber, MAARS Placement & Volunteer Director

Wacko began her journey with MAARS much like many others. She was too loud, too messy, needed too much time, and was more than her previous guardians wished to manage. MAARS Volunteer Staff fell in love with this snuggly Triton Cockatoo yet could clearly see that she could be a handful. She loved to bounce up and down yelling, "Wacko, Wacko, Wacko, Wacko!" just like a toddler who craves attention. An occasional nip on the hand or arm was all anyone needed to remind them that Wacko was, in fact, a wild bird.

In January 2004, Grace visited MAARS with her two daughters and a family friend, seeking a bird friend for Sydney, a male Eclectus whom she acquired from a family member. They spent the entire day at MAARS meeting the flock and working with a Placement Counselor to determine possible candidates for adoption into their flock. Grace's daughter made a magical connection with Wacko, and they snuggled and played for much of the day. Wacko tested every member of the family with a few nips but this did not faze any of them in the least. By the end of the day we all knew that Wacko was the one for them, but were they right for Wacko?

Grace quickly began the research and preparations necessary for anyone to become a responsible bird guardian. The house was bird-proofed, she attended a one-on-one Basic Bird Care class with MAARS, the family volunteered at MAARS to learn more about avian care and handling, Sydney was examined and tested for disease by an avian veterinarian, and she sought out the advice of other cockatoo guardians via the internet, friends and family, and MAARS Staff. Even some unexpected car trouble could not keep Grace from making numerous trips to MAARS to learn more about how to care for Wacko.

Once Grace's home visit was done and her references had been checked, only one obstacle remained — how would Sydney react to Wacko? It was time for them to meet. Grace and her daughters brought Sydney along with them one Saturday, to hang out with Wacko while they provided care for the flock at MAARS' shelter. Sydney was not the least bit put off by the noise of the big bird room or the Volunteer Staff buzzing about. He and Wacko were at peace with each other. The hard work and dedication of Grace and MAARS Placement Counselors had paid off.

Wacko went home in April 2004. She grew dozens of new feathers, including flight feathers that replaced ones that had been either clipped or destroyed. She gained self-confidence and truly began to blossom in Grace's home. "She is doing well, never bites me but can be prone to biting people that don't know how to handle her. I am learning a lot about her past from her fears and various responses. I am so thankful to have her home."

Wacko and her family have since made the long trip to Nevada and now reside near Las Vegas. Both Wacko and Sydney made the transition into their home with no problems. They have a wonderful new home, the family is settled in, and all is well. What a happy ending for all!

Congo African Grey, Joe, made a smooth transition into his new home with Rick.

Congo African Grey, Joe, made a smooth transition into his new home with Rick.

Joe Meets His Match

by Jamie McCarthy, MAARS Staff Training, Education & Placement Coordinator

Joe, a Congo African Grey, arrived at MAARS on December 30, 2003. Joe's guardian had become ill and was moving into a nursing home where Joe could not follow. Unfortunately, Joe's guardian had not made arrangements for Joe's care in the event of his illness or death. So Joe came to MAARS to find a new home. Because most African Greys do not like the extensive activity and noise of a shelter setting, MAARS arranged for one of the MAARS Managers, Carol Prindle, to foster Joe in her home.

Joe flourished at Carol's house. He was timid at first and did not talk much, but within a couple of months, Joe was spending as much time as possible out of his cage, playing with toys, and learning new things to say like, "I love you, Joe," "Whatcha doin'," and "MOOOOOOOOOMMMMM," just like a human kid. Joe also learned to bark like a dog, and was very particular about sharing his food with his furry pet, often telling the dog to "Go lay down" when the dog was scavenging for scraps from Joe's dinner.

Based on Carol's observations and interactions with Joe, we knew what to look for in a permanent placement. Joe wanted a special human friend, liked to be in the middle of the action, and needed a gentle soul to match his own. Rick was looking for a special companion, was particularly interested in sharing his home and life with an African Grey, and had done extensive research on what it takes to live with and care for the species. He wanted to take things slowly to make sure he found the right companion to bring home. The MAARS Placement Committee was impressed with the research Rick had done and his willingness to learn as much as he could about caring for parrots.

On his first visit to MAARS, Carol brought Joe in to meet Rick. She told Rick that Joe could sometimes be nervous about stepping up for new people, but Joe came right out for Rick, climbed up onto his shoulder, and looked at him for quite a while. We sat there talking about Joe, and about Rick's house, and other animals — two dogs, a cat, and some chickens. After a little while, Joe just leaned over and rested his beak on Rick's cheek. Rick spent a couple of hours visiting with Joe that day, and I couldn't imagine that Rick and Joe wouldn't be together. Rick was still wary about making a decision too hastily, and because adopting a bird will likely be a life-long commitment, we encouraged Rick to take as much time as he needed to make his decision. Rick had a long drive home that night — several hours — and he thought mostly of Joe and how sweet he was. Rick called me at 9:30 p.m. that night, to tell me that he had felt a real connection with Joe, and couldn't imagine not bringing Joe home. Although Rick apologized for being so emotional, I told him that I had felt a connection between Joe and him too, and that I was very pleased that he wanted to move forward with the placement process, which included a home visit and attending a Basic Bird Care class.

Joe has been living at Rick's since mid-October, and by all reports is settling in nicely. Joe still loves to bark like the dogs, and is starting to show Rick his softer side. Rick reports that Joe likes to have his head scratched and get kisses, and that Joe can be quite a chatterbox. Rick says that Joe is his "good buddy," and that they have a good time hanging out together.

I told Rick that it sounded like Joe knew he was home, and Rick agreed.


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