I have always thought birds, particularly parrots, were beautiful and captivating. As a young child I remember going to the Philadelphia Zoo and hand feeding the colorful Lorikeets. Although the experience was memorable, having 6 Lorikeets biting at my arm is something I wish to forget! From that moment forward I was an ornithophobe – I was afraid of birds.
Fast forward 11 years and I now find myself in a very precarious situation. I am a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) here at Gilbertsville Veterinary Hospital and if you don’t know, we see a fair amount of birds here! In my first week at GVH, we saw 2 Macaws, a handful of Amazons and a couple of African Grays. I realized quickly I would have to get over my fear of birds. Throughout my entire life, I have always conquered my fears by facing them head on….so, naturally that meant I would have to get a bird!
I started doing research online and talked to “bird” people I knew. One day I found myself at a local pet store that had pet birds for sale. A beautiful and very playful Sun Conure charmed me from the moment I saw him. His bright colors and sweet nature, how could I not fall in love?! After talking to friend who has had birds for over 20 years, I realized that the sweet Sun Conure was not for me! I decided to continue to do more research into characteristics that were important to me: size (not too big), friendliness, ability to talk, and an independent nature. After a fair amount of research I narrowed it down to 2 species – a Quaker parrot or Hahns Macaw. Now for those non-savvy bird people like I was, Quakers are illegal in the state of Pennsylvania so that left me with one choice. You might be asking yourself, “I thought she didn’t want a big bird?! Macaws are HUGE!” Alas, Hahns Macaws are also known as Mini Macaws since they are close in size to the Cockatiel.
Once I did my research on Hahns Macaws, I then had to start the search for a place where I could actually meet one! M & D Bird Farm in Delaware, exclusive bird and bird product retailer, was the one such place that had Hahns Macaws available. My husband and I drove over 3 hours to M & D just to solely interact with these mini Macaws. We spent another 3 hours in the store just talking with staff and interacting with one baby in particular. After a 3 hour drive home, more research, and slowly collecting bird items, I decided I would take the plunge and bring home the baby Hahns I had met 3 weeks prior.
Kalley, Client Care Specialist with Zazu
Once our girl was fully weaned, yes birds need to be weaned just like cats and dogs, we brought home Zazu! The 3 weeks leading up to Zazus’ homecoming I secured a cage, perches, toys and every thing I would need to make her happy and comfy! In the beginning it was all about her learning to trust me and realize I was going to be her protector now, her flock mate. Consistency and patience prevailed and Zazu became trustworthy of me, and I of her. Sometimes it has been challenging because she does have tantrums just like a 2 year old. However, I love having a bird now! I spend a lot of time taking Zazu with me all over to teach her to be social and not be afraid of others. It took a few months of repeating myself over and over but after about 3 months her vocabulary took off! I love having a pet I can talk to and have her talk back to me. I don’t think it will ever get old when I hear her ask me for a kiss and then she makes a kiss sound back to me. She loves saying: kiss, Bubba, whatchadoing, yummy yummy yummy, come here, upside down bird and more! She also helps me eat healthier too! Macaws have a very wide array of food items they can eat most of which are fruits and vegetables!
I can no longer say I am afraid of birds; ok I am still a little afraid of bigger birds. But Zazu has taught me so much more than I give her credit for – confidence, perseverance but most of all trust. There is a different bond I have with her than with my dogs and cats. I can see when she looks at me that she is taking in everything I do and sometimes she reflects it back to me. Every day she makes me laugh and smile. Sharing a bond with an animal that can associate with you and communicate is unparallel to anything else. Every one of my pets (I have 10) holds a special place in my heart; Zazu will always have her place!
-GVH Veterinary Technician