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Home > News & Events > MAARSianChronicles > Issue 11: February 2005 > Happy Landings: Pinkaboo Flies to MAARS / Phoenix (and Addie) Rise from the Ashes

Happy Landings

Pinkaboo, a Rose-breasted Cockatoo, had some help flying from Pennsylvania to his new home in Minnesota.

Pinkaboo, a Rose-breasted Cockatoo, had some help flying from Pennsylvania to his new home in Minnesota.

Pinkaboo Flies to MAARS

by Alayne Rueber, MAARS Placement & Volunteer Director

Some truly amazing people volunteer their time and expertise at MAARS. From the dedicated leaders to the committed individuals who care for the MAARS flock every day of the year, they are the crème de la crème. And, together, they do some remarkable things. Let's have Pinkaboo, a Rose-breasted Cockatoo or Galah, tell you her story and how MAARS Volunteers have changed her life…

I lived much of my life in a horrible place. I had a tiny little cage with little to play with and people that neglected and abused me. They injured my left breast and I had many of my toes broken while I lived with them. The children that lived there were allowed to bounce a ball against my cage, scream at me, hit my cage with sticks, and tease me. I was very unhappy and scared to live at that place. I plucked out my feathers and even tore into my own flesh. My breast muscle shrunk in size after I was injured; I became very skinny and feeble. I was not allowed out of the cage much, and when I was, it was terrifying. I was miserable.

One day, out of the blue, I was taken to a new place where they gave me shots and looked after my wounds. Then I was moved again — to a different cage with another new person caring for me. She was pretty and had a soft voice. I didn't know what was happening, I was scared, but I also sensed that it was good. She gave me good food, toys to play with, things to snuggle with, and was really nice to me. I lived there with her and some other birds for six years and learned to love the lady named Barbara. We took showers, danced, and snuggled together. Then something seemed to change. Barbara stayed in bed more and did not dance with me as much. She sometimes looked unhappy and had pain in her eyes. She was getting sick. She stayed at home more, yet didn't spend as much time with me. I loved her, but I missed the old times.

Last summer, Barbara started telling me about a place called MAARS and a bird named Sydney. She told me that Sydney had once lived at MAARS but now has a wonderful home and a family that loves her but needs a friend and that maybe I could be her friend. I had never had a friend with feathers and really wasn't too sure about it at all. Barbara told me that she was worried about getting too sick to take care of me. She said that I was very special and deserved a very special place to live and very special people to take care of me. She wanted to make sure I would always be OK and I tried to tell her that I was OK right there with her but she couldn't hear me when she was crying.

I could tell that the time to leave was getting closer because Barbara was having an easier time talking to me about MAARS and Sydney. When the day came, I could tell that I was going somewhere far away. I was put into a carrier and covered up with a blanket. Two strangers came to my house, lifted the blanket and peered in at me. One of them was pretty and talked sweetly to me and the other had short hair and was very tall. They both laughed and smiled a lot. Barbara hugged them and then started to cry. I knew that would be the last time I saw her.

We traveled pretty far and there were loud noises and scary voices. At one point, some people with shiny badges peeked in at me. They checked under the blanket and around the carrier. One of them smiled at me and I danced in excitement because I thought she was going to let me out. No luck — they covered me up again, for what seemed like a long time. I peeked out and could see that I was under a seat and on a trip with a bunch of other people. There were more strange noises in that place.

After a really long time, more smiling people let me out of the carrier! There were three of them, a man, a lady, and a smaller lady. They sat with me on the couch and let me run around on the floor a bit. Then I met Sydney. It turns out that Sydney looks just like me! Well, she looks a lot like me but she isn't quite so bright pink and she's bigger. She seemed kind of nice and I got to sleep with her in a big cage in this new place.

Sydney and I have lived together ever since. We share the same cage, eat together out of the same dish, and have even shredded the couch together. (I don't think the people liked that.) She talks a little different than me, but I still understand what she is saying. The new lady made us a cave to play in under our cage and we have lots of stands where we like to sit together. We like to run around on the floor chasing these two other birds called cockatiels.

Pinkaboo cuddles with Alex in her new home.

Pinkaboo cuddles with Alex in her new home.

There are some big birds in my new home and some little birds too. The little ones fly around the place like they own it. I don't mind it a single bit, unless they land on my cage. Then they have me to reckon with! The big ones are bright red with very long tails and pretty much keep their distance. They are very loud and big and messy — I don't think I'll mess with them. I get to eat meals with the birds and people here. They give me nummy things to eat. Sometimes I like it, sometimes I don't. My favorite food so far is birdie burritos — hot and spicy and nummy to eat. I like it when I get a popsicle stick to chew on. The lady sticks nuts on it with peanut butter. I eat the nuts, lick of the peanut butter and then devour the stick. Sometimes I sneak over and take Sydney's away from her.

The little lady — who they call Alex — has a whole room full of fun stuff to explore. I think she was upset when I chewed up some papers on her desk one day but she said she would be the one who got in trouble. At bedtime, we sit with the big lady and the man while they look at books. I like to snuggle up to their faces and rub my cheeks on theirs. The man's face is scratchy and feels nice on my feathers. I am still nervous once in a while, but never afraid. I like this place and I hope I get to stay. I have a new friend, nice people, and fun things to do and see. I think I can love these people too.

On January 8, 2005, MAARS Volunteer Staff, Chris and Jill Gannon, set out on a special mission. They flew to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to bring Pinkaboo, a Rose-breasted Cockatoo, to Minnesota. Thank you to Chris and Jill and to NW Airlines for accommodating them in first class on their flight home. Pink now resides with Sydney in the home of Alayne, Dale, and Alex Rueber. They hope to officially adopt Pink into their family within the next few months.

Adopted cockatiels, Phoenix and Addie, survey their new home with the Prange family.

Adopted Cockatiels, Phoenix and Addie, survey their new home with the Prange family.

Phoenix (and Addie) Rise from the Ashes

by Alayne Rueber, MAARS Placement & Volunteer Director

In November 2004, Cockatiels Adelaide ("Addie") and Phoenix began their new life with the Prange family. It appeared to be just an ordinary placement, but these two small birds were about to make a huge impact.

Addie and Phoenix, were surrendered to MAARS in January 2002 when they were eight years old. They came in with their flock-mates, the products of a breeder who had experienced a change of heart and a change in her life that made it difficult to keep them all. After producing baby cockatiels, budgies, and lovebirds on a small scale from 1992–1995, she had become disgusted with the "pet" bird trade. In 1999, she turned her efforts to rescue after seeing the devastating effect of captivity on these wild animals.

Addie and Phoenix are not beautiful birds by many people's lofty standards. Addie is missing quite a few feathers on her head and has previously broken her ankle. Phoenix is partially plucked on his head and has lost the majority of his toes. We later learned that he had bitten his own toes off as the result of annoying numbness following a bite injury he received during a territorial dispute with other males in his cage in 1999.

Tasha had visited MAARS' shelter on a number of occasions. She is a gentle young lady with a strong desire to nurture. What she lacked in experience with birds she made up for with her caring instincts. When she met Addie and Phoenix, it was love at first kiss! She was content just to sit and talk with them, her eyes filled with awe. Addie and Phoenix responded to her immediately and let her into their hearts. Meanwhile, Tasha began her quest to convince her family to adopt them.

Children and birds can be a great combination or a dangerous one. It is essential that the entire family supports the decision and is willing to be a part of the birds' lives. Although Tasha intended to provide the day-to-day care for the birds, the ultimate responsibility lay with her parents. They would need to provide financial, emotional, and physical support for these birds to make their life happy and healthy. They would be the ones entrusted with Addie and Phoenix's lives through all the changes that would occur in their family.

The Prange family visited MAARS' shelter and had the opportunity to meet Addie and Phoenix for the first time, although they had heard all about them from Tasha. Both parents were caught off guard by their appearance and asked if they were sick. They spent that day learning more about each other and learning more about the responsibilities that go with being a bird guardian. A couple of days passed and I was informed that they wished to proceed with the placement process, hopeful they could adopt Addie and Phoenix.

One concern from their home visit was their dog, Shivers. Shivers is a small dog with a ton of energy. He has bladder problems and a pretty severe underbite — it became clear that this family was already a "rescue" of sorts. He would probably be the biggest concern for Addie and Phoenix's safety. Other than that, their family and home were well prepared for a new arrival. They attended MAARS' Basic Bird Care class and the placement was approved.

Homecoming would be a bit tense, until they determined the reaction to the birds from Shivers. The family introduced them to each other and waited anxiously for some sort of reaction. One sniff was all that was needed and Addie and Phoenix were part of Shivers' family.

More touching than this is the effect that Addie and Phoenix have had on the entire family. Tasha's older brother has a busy life with sports, school, work. and his girlfriend. Tasha has told me that he absolutely adores the birds. In fact, he talks to them softer and sweeter than he speaks to any other member of the family. He and his friends hang out with Addie and Phoenix and kindly refer to them as "Stubby and Steve". (Seems as though they have added some non-feathered friends to their flock.)

Tasha has taken on a motherly role with the birds. I got the chance to "talk" with Addie and Phoenix on the phone the other day. They were hanging out with Tasha in her bedroom. These birds are Tasha's pride and joy! They are her best friends, her confidants, and her playmates. Tasha saves her babysitting wages for extra toys and fun stuff for them, and occasionally purchases toys for the birds at the MAARStore. She has embraced her responsibility to Addie and Phoenix and has exhibited an unusual level of maturity for her age. Her parents must be very proud of her.

In giving their home to these birds, the Prange's have received a surprising gift in return. They have shared their hearts and home and have received the gift of unconditional love. Little in our lives lasts forever, but the priceless moments we experience are treasured forever.


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