Tico, the Blue and Gold macaw pictured above, was my first bird. This may sound strange from someone who at the time of meeting Tico had several hundred birds hanging out in her back, front, and side yards. Those birds, however, were Pandemonium Aviaries birds. They were here because they had nowhere else to go. I promised them that they could live out their lives here, but I never looked at sanctuary birds as “mine.” They were my responsibility, my passion, and a great source of joy, but I didn’t expect to have an exclusive relationship with them.
Tico was different. From the very start when he called me to “Come here” one day while I was volunteering at a Wildlife Center feeding baby birds, I knew that this was a bird that I wanted as my friend. I can’t explain what captivated me: the twinkle in his eyes, or the way he danced behind the bars of his cage when I peeked my head into the office where he was housed. From our first meeting, I felt as if Tico was “mine”, and I think Tico looked at me as “his.” Regardless of who belonged to who, the parrot/human bond was to become strong.
Tico was considered dangerous. There was talk of euthanasia. I lobbied and pleaded and finally was given him on a conditional basis. And that started a love affair which has been rocky and playful and instructive and funny and so very rewarding. Tico has taught me the possibilities of cross species communication, trust, respect and love.
This past summer I changed our parrots living arrangements and with that my relationship with Tico changed. I freed up two very large aviaries and two smaller ones and spread our seven companion parrots between them. Tico shared the largest with Miele, a gorgeous Catalina macaw.
I’ve always insisted that I want what is best for all birds, and that is what happened: the best. Tico fell in love with Miele, and Miele fell in love with Tico. As part of the process of claiming each other, they both turned their backs on me.
Am I sad about this? I do miss dancing with Tico and holding him close to my chest, and it was so much fun to have Miele lean over to me and tell me “Kiss Kiss”, but I love these two unconditionally. That means that my feelings towards them remain unchanged.
Tico and Miele have found each other, and I am deeply grateful for this. They are an example of Pandemonium’s philosophy that we do what is right for birds. It’s really very simple. Birds should not be little humans, no matter how much fun this is for us. Birds should be allowed to be birds. And if this means turning a back on a human in order to sanctify exclusive love for another bird, it’s my opinion that the back view is just as lovely as the front.
by Michele Raffin, Pandemonium Aviaries Founder