Our History, or, to start with, I should say my history, with parrots goes back to about 1983. I, like most people that got into parrots, started with one. I began with a wild-caught male Moluccan Cockatoo that I bought from a quarantine station. I am an animal lover, and with perseverance and patience, I was able to tame him. Next I bought a female Moluccan and tamed her. At the time, I was divorced, raising two children, supporting a household, holding a full time job, and breeding angelfish. I decided that I favored the female Cockatoo and decided to sell the male. I sold him at a profit, and this started the ball rolling. I found a home for the female Moluccan, and used the money to buy more wild-caught birds. In the next couple of years, I found that I could buy wild birds and tame them as pets to help support my family and the parrots that I had accumulated. Within a year my collection of parrots had increased to over 30, and I no longer had time for both fish and birds. I decided to sell all of my fish. The birds had become my fascination.
Through taming and training the wild birds, I learned about parrot psychology. It never ceased to amaze me that parrots that had been mistreated and roughly handled during quarantine and capture, could learn to trust humans. Because of my love for them, and my lack of fear, wild African Greys would allow me to pet them within 15 minutes. I tamed, and gained the trust of, totally wild Macaws, Cockatoos and Greys that most people called "Broncos", and would not have attempted to tame. I suppose my lack of fear helped to reassure them. I never used gloves because I felt that I had to give my trust to gain theirs. Within a couple of years, by using charge cards and selling some of the birds I had tamed, I was able to increase my flock to over 100 parrots of various species.
In August of 1985, I had an electrical house fire. I lost all but 30 of 119 birds. The experience was traumatic. I blamed myself for their deaths and almost decided to give up. I still owed for most of the birds that I had lost, and wasn't making enough at my job to pay for them and support my family. After I got over the initial shock of the fire, I realized that I couldn't just quit. That would have meant defeat, and I refused to be defeated. Insurance didn't pay for any of the birds lost, but it did pay for losses of belongings and contents of the house. Instead of replacing all of the household losses, I used some of the insurance payments to buy more birds, but this time most of my purchases were for breeding stock. I secured a five-year home equity loan to buy my first pair of Hyacinths.
In 1986, I bought a couple of baby Blue Front Amazons out of quarantine. The next day I found one of them dead in the cage. He was replaced, but less than 2 weeks later, my birds began to die. Every night after work I would come home to find that another one of my birds had died. At the time, the vet I was going to couldn't find what was wrong with them, and told me there was nothing I could do. I didn't think that I could take any more when they screamed in pain as they died. One of them died in my hands, and another, I put in the bathroom and closed the door so I might not hear the scream of pain as he died, but I still did. Finally I heard about a new Avian Vet, Peter Sakas, through another bird lover, and took one of the sick birds to him. The bird lived!! Soon after this, the deaths stopped, but I had lost over $20,000 worth of birds, including the female Hyacinth of the pair that I was still paying for. I still refused to be defeated.
I stopped buying birds from quarantine stations, but I had to go further into debt to buy unwanted and abused birds that would become my breeders. I let each of the birds pick their own mates, and set them up as they did. I went through all of the same learning experiences that any new breeder does; sorting through opinions and theories, trying different cage sizes, lighting, and vitamins. I very quickly figured out that most successful breeders were not going to reveal to me how they became successful. I had to go through the same pains they did and figure it out on my own. I did!!!!
In 1993, I married Paul, after 16 years of being on my own. He has been supportive of my love of the birds and has helped with maintenance of cages and feeding even though they have taken most of our time and our lives. In fact, he told me once time that we had to "get a life". My response was "this is a life". In January of 1995, we bought a home on 5 acres in Marengo, Ill. It took 6 months to prepare it for the birds, and we moved in, in June. It took almost 6 months for the breeders to settle in, but once they did, for the first time, I had to shut them down. I had so many babies, it took a while to find homes for all of them.
Although, most of this may have been of no interest to many, the point that I was attempting to get across is that no one should ever give up on a dream. Although you may lose a couple of battles, the war can't be lost unless you quit.
I thought I might share a little poem that I wrote when I was going through the one of the tragic experiences of losing my birds.
Ode to a Dream
For ev'ry happiness, there must be a sorrow.
For ev'ry today, there's always tomorrow.
At times you might ask, "Oh, what's it all worth?
There must be a reason for being on earth!!"
But deep in your heart you know what it's for.
It's life and it's love, and, oh, so much more.
"Forget it!! Give up!! Things aren't what they seem!!"
Yet ev'ry reality began with a dream.