MY MOTHER MEETS A HYACINTH
by Sally Blanchard
Over the years I have met hundreds of parrots and remember many of them fondly. I often wonder what happened to these wonderful birds and fervently hope they still have happy homes. The majority of them were well-loved, and that nurturing affection encouraged some wonderful personalities — each parrot was a delight in one way or another. Sometimes it is the situation that was most memorable. From time to time I will share a few of my memories about these special birds and when I met them.
My mother had visited me over 25 years ago when my Double-yellow Head, Paco, was a baby. Other than that, she hadn’t had been around parrots much. After I moved back to California, I often drove down to southern California to visit her and usually took Spike, my Caique, with me. From the very beginning, she was afraid of him and he knew it so he started stalking her every chance he got. She clearly didn’t trust any parrot larger than a Budgie.
During one of her visits with me, I took her down to Capitola (near Santa Cruz) to visit Martha Hammer, a friend who bred parrots. At that time, Martha was raising two Hyacinth Macaws. The oldest had reached that wonderful toddler stage where he wanted to investigate everything and everybody. My mother was sitting on the couch when the big blue bappy spied her. With a unique combination of a waddle, a hop, and a gallop he headed straight for her. When she saw him coming, she let out a stifled little scream as if she knew he would devour her. He stopped right in front of her, and carefully looked at her first with one eye and, then moving his head, with the other eye. Then, despite her negative body language, he climbed up on her lap and then onto her arm. He made a soft nasal sounding "wagel" "gronk" as if to say, "see I’m not that bad." He sat with her for some time and she finally relaxed. This was several years ago and my mother lived with me until she died just before her 93rd birthday. Even though she lived with six parrots (including her nemesis Spike), one of my mother’s favorite parrot stories was always about the big beautiful blue bird who came over to make friends with her. Her second favorite story was about getting to pet a penguin named Bart at the Penguin Encounter at Sea World.