What am I going to do with a parrot?

My adorable tiny dog Toni died two months ago.

Toni play goat
“Come on – play with me, goat!”


I have taken it hard – and, overall, am doing pretty well.  In the here-and-now, I’m mostly in the here-and-now.  One thing that has helped has been parrots!  I don’t know how, I don’t know why…I’ll explore all this in future posts.  But parrots – and one particular parrot, Oliver.

A few weeks ago, I attended a workshop at Phoenix Landing, a parrot rescue agency in Alexander, NC – a handy 30 minutes from me in Asheville, NC.  Asheville is a parrot haven (not!  too cold in the winter, like now).  I arrived ten minutes before the workshop was to begin (having gotten royally lost on the way).  I identified by her non-verbals the woman who was to be our trainer and almost immediately blurted out to her, “I understand you only adopt parrots to families – do you ever use single people?”  Ann immediately reassured me, “Sure we adopt to single people – some parrots do better that way.”
A Phoenix Landing workshop on parrots.


Everything changed – the room almost spun around.  I didn’t even realize how attached I had gotten to adopting a parrot, but the frequent references on the Phoenix Landing web site to “your family” and “a parrot wants a flock” (a family) had left me powerfully disappointed.  I coached myself, “You can volunteer and get to know lots of parrots.” (I may still.)  But the truth was that I wanted my parrot – a parrot with which I would develop a special relationship.  I had read and been mesmerized by the New York Times Sunday magazine article “What Does a Parrot Know About PTSD?“.  What if I could help a parrot with their PTSD from hard life experiences (e.g. kept in a drawer for years)?  What if they could help me with mine?

I’ll eventually say lots more about the eclectus parrot Oliver, but enough now to say that I’m on track to foster and then adopt him – how soon I don’t know.  At this writing, we’ve only seen each other twice – for five minutes and then two hours.  (He sat on my shoulder a lot.)  Snowy roads are going to keep me from seeing him today (Tuesday).  I’m going to another workshop at Phoenix Landing on Saturday and have planned to spend time with Oliver afterwards.

eclectus pair
An eclectus parrot couple – they are “sexually dimorphic”.  You figure it out (it’s actually kind of logical), or google it. The guys are green.

Having been an adoptive parent of my amazing 43 year old son, I recognize in myself now some of the same insecurities I had 43 years ago (Terry was 5 1/2 months old):

  1. He’s so different from me.  Terry was a baby.  Not a different species – now that’s really different.  I know what it’s like to be a human person – but a bird?
  2. Will I be adequate to the task?
  3. Will this wreck my life?

Needless to say, my progress towards adopting a parrot has not been a straight line.  In a very real way, this blog is a journal of that journey towards “parronthood” (thanks Jennifer Cunha).  Knowing that this journey does not end with the adoption.

In perhaps a cock-eyed way, this will be a story of parenthood…and about adoption…and about birds…and about the “Kinship with All Life.”  And about one neurotic, PTSD, bipolar, creative, over-educated, retired-with-time-on-his-hands – and dare I say “courageous” 72 year old man.  Walk with me.