1360 University Ave W #347 · St. Paul, MN 55104
Phone: (651) 275-0568 · Fax: (651) 275-0457
|Captive Bird Rescue, Adoption, Sanctuary & Care Education||Gimme Shelter!|
Rio & Buckley Mosey on Down to Texas
In the late autumn of 2000, Rio, a wild-caught male Moluccan Cockatoo, was placed at MAARS by a local avian rescue. His history — as is so often the case — was very sketchy, but we know that he sat at a pet store near Chicago on consignment for some time before the rescue group obtained him. He was placed in a foster home, but after a year without improvement, MAARS was asked to take him, and he came to The Landing, the MAARS shelter. Due to subtle physical characteristics, we estimated Rio to be forty or fifty years old. He was fearful of humans, his feathers were ragged, and he lacked social skills necessary to be an integral member of a human or avian flock.
Rio quickly demonstrated his desire for an avian companion and did his best to make friends with Chief, a wild-caught male Umbrella Cockatoo. Despite his ignorance of Cockatoo social and cultural norms, Chief was a patient teacher. Within a few weeks, Rio had learned to preen Chief gently, vocalize with the other birds, and although wary, put a little trust in the compassionate Volunteer Staff at MAARS. He soon also struck up a friendship with Jake, another wild-caught male Umbrella Cockatoo, and further developed his newly acquired social skills.
Then, in February 2001, another wild-caught male Umbrella Cockatoo, at least eighteen years of age, joined the flock. Buckley was small in stature and was — at first — somewhat shy and scared. He had at different times been a "pet," a working bird who made commercials, and a breeder. He settled into the flock immediately and became the favored companion of Jake and Rio. This threesome lasted a couple of months before Rio let Jake know that he had become an unwelcome interloper; Rio had bonded to Buckley and had become protective and possessive of him.
From that point on, Rio and Buckley remained a closely bonded pair. They were housed next to each other and enjoyed many hours together each day, preening, playing, and sometimes causing trouble in the flock. As birds were placed into private homes, the flock dynamic would change, allowing Buckley to become quite assertive and make a place for himself in the flock. The pair became a strong, stable presence at The Landing, and the staff grew attached to them, always making sure that they would have plenty of time out together since they could not safely share housing.
It was clear to everyone who knew them that Rio and Buckley had chosen to be "birds' birds" and rejected close relationships with humans; their wishes were accepted and respected without question. MAARS soon concluded that it would be in their best interest to live in an outdoor flock environment at a lifetime care/sanctuary facility.
Four years passed before the right permanent sanctuary placement became available at Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation (WRR) near San Antonio, Texas. The MAARS staff began talking to both of them about the move. Buckley seemed unaffected by the prospect of going to a new place with new people and new birds. Rio, however, seemed anxious and fearful and would climb into his cage, refusing to come out when the subject was broached. As the time drew near for the trip to Texas, all of the staff reassured Rio that he was loved, always welcome at The Landing, and would be greatly missed by all. Most significantly, he was promised that he and Buckley would spend the remainder of their lives together at WRR, where they could sit out in the sunshine nearly year-round, perch on real tree branches, and belong to a small flock.
On March 30, 2005, Eileen McCarthy, MAARS Executive Director, Alayne Rueber, MAARS Placement Director, Tina McCormick, MAARS Operations Director, and Jamie McCarthy, MAARS Volunteer Coordinator, began the journey to San Antonio and WRR. During almost twenty-four hours of driving and a night in a hotel room, neither Rio nor Buckley seemed nervous. They ate and drank well, watched their human friends, looked at the passing scenery, and explored the hotel room as if they took such trips all the time!
Eileen McCarthy had made arrangements with WRR's Founder/Executive Director, Lynn Cuny, to wait until Rio and Buckley's arrival to move all of WRR's parrots into the new building and flights. The MAARS staff spent their first day at WRR getting acquainted with the resident parrot flock. With the help of the WRR staff, every bird was examined and information gathered — each bird's history, temperament, mate, and friends. At the end of that day, they prepared Rio and Buckley to spend the night in the new building with two other cockatoos, a male Umbrella and female Citron. They observed the foursome together for some time and were delighted to find that Rio and Buckley socialized with the other birds right away. They seemed excited to meet their new companions and very calm in the new surroundings.
Buckley approached the other Umbrella and offered to preen him — the gesture of friendship was warmly welcomed. Buckley then moved in to try to win over the female. She was more reserved, but quite interested in the new guy. Rio sat a short distance away, watching his new companions. By the end of the afternoon, all four birds were sitting side by side, the two pairs interspersed. The humans left them for the night with a bit of apprehension, not sure how well things would be going by morning, but they had already begun the process of letting their boys go — this was just one more step towards providing for their needs the best way they could.
The next morning when the MAARS staff retuned to WRR, everyone's doors were opened into the large flights and the flock was outside in the sunshine, playing and visiting with the birds on either side of them — all except Rio and Buckley, who were still sitting inside. They moved Buckley outside first, and soon he was hopping from tree to tree, spreading his wings, and vocalizing as only a proud male Cockatoo can, as if to say, "Here I am world!" Rio was hesitant and needed some coaxing at first, but once outside, he found a perch where the sun bathed him, the breeze caressed his feathers, and he could keep an eye on things.
A vulture flew overhead, and Rio calmly let out a warning cry. The other birds froze for a moment. Another call from Rio, and activity started once again. He had let the flock know he was looking out for them. As he surveyed his surroundings, took in the fresh air, stretched his wings, and looked up to the sky, everyone was struck by how regal and dignified he appeared; his approval and gratitude were palpable. As the people from MAARS at last said good-bye to their feathered friends in Texas, they had no concern or doubt about leaving…Rio and Buckley were home!
Join the MAARS Flock Today…and Be the Wind Beneath Their Wings!
The MAARS Annual Membership Program gives you and our other loyal MAARS Supporting Flock Members the opportunity to help MAARS on an ongoing, sustaining basis. Your annual financial contribution will allow us to continue to provide and expand our valuable rescue, intake, care, veterinary and behavioral evaluation and treatment, adoption, sanctuary, outreach, and educational services for the displaced captive birds who we meet and the people whose lives they touch.
With so little, you can do so much to change the lives of birds like Rio & Buckley. On average, it takes $1.00 per day to care for each MAARS bird. Every small donation makes a big difference, and big donations help even more. Your participation in the MAARS Annual Membership Program will help save and improve the lives of hundreds of parrots and other displaced captive birds.
Please join MAARS today! Give them shelter! Ease their pain! Stop the cycle! And know that you made one corner of the world a better place for another living creature!
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Midwest Avian Adoption & Rescue Services, Inc., is recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization (Federal ID# 41-1944074) and is registered with the Office of the Secretary of State and the Office of the Attorney General of Minnesota as a charitable organization. All donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.