I feel like I’m in safe company here, with Mike promoting CritterTalk and all, so I’m comfortable with coming out and admitting that we have seven critters running our household and our lives. All are rescued animals, with the slight exception of alpha dog Tighe, who has his own northern-California herding-dog story. But we’ll leave Tighe for another time. This story focuses on how Mimo, the Big Boss Cockatoo, came to live with us. His is not the usual little tale.
It’s early August, 2004: my brother Tim, who’s living in Bellevue, WA, calls to tell me about this “wild parrot” who’s been stalking him from the trees. The wild parrot turns out to be a sulfur-crested cockatoo. When Tim comes outside in the morning, the bird is in the backyard trees where he’s roosted overnight. When Tim pulls his truck in the driveway at night, the bird is waiting for him. When Tim works in the yard he talks to the bird, and the bird follows him around. Cockatoos bond strongly, have definite likes and dislikes, and this bird developed quite the crush on my brother.
Tim began leaving seed on the deck rail for the bird, and that only upped the ante. Bird decided he really wanted Tim as his buddy, and Tim’s house for his home. The bird flung himself against the picture window a couple times, and chewed the wood mullion on the front door on his quest to get inside (see illus). Bird became tame enough to eat seed from Tim’s hand, but was still too wary to be caught. Enter neighbor with big dog crate.
Tim and neighbor rigged up the old “catch the bird with seed” trick. After a couple tries and misses, they were able to snare bird in crate. Success! I’d been keeping up with this adventure by phone and email, and this was good news. The Seattle weather would turn cold shortly, and this bird would not survive winter out in the open. However, this was not to be the happy ending I envisioned.
Tim called me up: “Reen, I got the bird, you want him?” “Oh, Tim, I thought this was your bird.” No, Tim could not keep him. I’d wanted a cockatoo for a long time, but now faced with that reality, I had to make the right decision. Cockatoos are smart and demanding and take a lot of their caretaker’s time. Plus they live a long time. Taking one on would be a real commitment. But, “OK, Tim, I’ll take him.”
By this time we’re at Labor Day week-end. Tim needs the bird-in-dog-crate off his deck, and is agitating just a bit for me to make arrangements. Now, how to get bird from Seattle to East Bay? Wouldn’t you know, there is someone in the SF area who arranges “exotic pet” moves. Thank you, google. The exotic pet movers have a contact in Seattle – bonus! Tim takes bird to local veterinary hospital. Seattle pet-mover builds TSA approved shipping crate, picks up bird, and transports him to Alaska Airlines. Contrary to all advice, bird flies on absolutely hottest day of the year…
Meanwhile, back at our ranch, preparations must be made for the new adoptee! We find a big cage on craigslist, and jam down to Stanford to purchase it from a young man who just graduated. Cage barely fits in station wagon, and we jam back to the house in time to unload the cage and make haste for the airport to meet the flight. I’m more than a little worried about the bird being in cargo in this heat. But all is well at Alaska Air cargo counter, and bird makes a small “now what?” peep as we pick him up. We get the crate settled in the car, give the bird a drink of fresh water, and head home. I name the bird Mimo, which is a play on familiar nickname for Guillermo, or Bill (my husband’s name) in Spanish.
Six years later, Mimo is still with us and is likely to be for a long time. I’m sure he’ll demand a story be told about him from time to time. But we’ll always think of him as “Uncle Tim’s wild parrot”.