Harry is a Blue and Gold macaw. His life reflects many of the untenable problems we find in the parrot trade. Harry was illegally poached from his natural habitat in 1970. Young macaws are usually captured near their fledgling age of one to two years old. As is often the case, the young Harry macaw was pinioned. This means that a tendon in his wing was severed, so that he can never fly again. Then the poachers transported Harry, like most wild-caught parrots, to a wealthy country such as the U.S. Usually the methods of transport are cruel and barbaric—at least half of the parrots die during this ordeal. The surviving birds are affected by this severe trauma for the rest of their lives.
This horrific introduction to domestication explains the state in which the Aviary first experienced Harry. While we were still in Arizona, the Aviary was asked to take in two Blue and Gold macaws whose owners felt they could no longer handle. They had named these macaws Acky and Ducky, for the almost quacking sounds they made. We recognized those sounds to be those that macaws make when they are terrified. These macaws were frightened and ready to defend themselves from any humans in their proximity. In the process of bringing these macaws back and folding them into our parrot flock, it was decided Acky and Ducky should be renamed Harry and Juliet.
Juliet was a domestically bred Blue and Gold macaw with an aggressive propensity to pluck out her feathers. For so long it seemed like we would never gain Harry and Juliet’s trust. They seemed unable to overcome their fear of humans, and they had only each other to turn to. It was then that Harry’s life was dealt another tragic blow—Juliet passed away. Harry was emotionally crushed. This was clear from dramatic changes in his behavior. He searched and searched for Juliet, only to finally accept his loss and proceed alone without his beloved partner. But worry not, for happiness was just around the corner!
After some time to grieve, Harry noticed a lovely, single female Blue Throat macaw in our flock named Jade. And from the immediate liking Jade took to Harry, we would say she had noticed him long before. The attraction between them heated up very quickly. Without reservation, the two began to demonstrate elaborate indicators of their receptivity for one another. It must have been a good match, because Harry and Jade are, to this day, totally inseparable (as you can see in the photo on the right). We’ll tell you more about Jade in the next Bird of the Month.
Within two years after moving the Garuda Aviary to Maryland, a handful of veterinarians toured our facility. The avian vet was stunned that Harry was wild-caught (captured illegally from his natural habitat). The vet remarked on how confident and socially engaging Harry was, quite unlike most wild-caught parrots that are usually terrified and dysfunctional from the trauma. We told him that Harry had come a long way from the traumatized state in which we had found him. The vet told us that we had worked a miracle with Harry’s rehabilitation.
Victories like Harry’s turnaround make all the hard work worthwhile!