Jungle Baby

Sarah, my now 9-year-old daughter has grown up with the greatest imaginable playmate, our Blue & Gold Macaw, Buddy. Other children learned to walk by hanging onto furniture. Sarah used Buddy’s cage, she plastered against the outside, he plastered against the inside. As if encouraging her onward and upward, he’d gently “tongue” her little fingers, cheering her on with “Good! Good!”, patiently following her, inch-by-inch, around the cage perimeter.

If Sarah didn’t wake up at what he considered to be a proper time in the morning, he’d yell at the top of his lungs, “Sarah!!”, a superb “A Streetcar Named Desire” rendition of Brando’s, “Stella!!!”. Her laughter and joyous response were music to my ears. “Buddy! I come play!”.

Their relationship began when she was a tiny 24-hour old baby. As we nestled together in the rocking chair, she tucked into the crook of my arm, snuggled against me, I described to her all the strange new noises coming from the “bird room” at the other end of the house.

“Oh, my, that was a loud scream, wasn’t it. That’s KoeKoe. He’s King of the House, a large Umbrella Cockatoo and it will be many years before you will be handling him. The sweet sounding “hello” was Pookie. She’s an African Grey. Before you know it, she will imitate your voice perfectly. If you don’t want to hear yourself crying for the next 15 years, we need to work at keeping you very happy and content so she won’t have an opportunity of copying you! That last ‘hello’ was KaeKae, a Sun Conure. She can teach you the first verse to ‘The Farmer In The Dell’.”

In the midst of my briefing Baby Sarah about the wide-range of personalities and talents within the “flock”, we were interrupted with the clomp-clomp clomp-clomp of Buddy running pigeon-toed across the room towards the rocking chair. Wordlessly, he climbed the chair back, popping his head over my right shoulder, giving his usual cheerful greeting, “Boo!”.

Parrots are creatures of rigid consistency. In the wild, their lives depend on knowing every detail of every face and facet of their environment. Any small changes which are noted cause “alert” mode – every feather standing at “attention”, their eyes often “pinning”, a rapid expanding and contracting of the pupils. Their entire body rigorously shakes, giving them a “nervous” appearance. It’s actually a very practical exercise, a quick warm-up of their muscles preparing them should they need to burst into flight to escape whatever danger they perceive.

Buddy’s body posture was alert, but relaxed, his body rolling comfortably with the rocking motion, as I introduced Buddy to Sarah, ”...and this is our Buddy. He’s still pretty much of a baby, too. He loves music and singing. He makes up his own songs….”.

Listening intently, he leaned forward to inspect the new creature, slowly sweeping his one-eyed gaze along her 21-inches, head-to-toe and back again. Leaning slightly against the side of my head, he issued several more “clucks”, a deep rolling-”r” vocalization used when he’s completely relaxed.

Deciding it was time for more information, he smacked me on the head with his beak, not one of his more endearing behaviors when he wants my attention. “Ow”, I said, rubbing the spot, “use words, please!”. He motioned downward towards Sarah with his head, then peered into my eyes asking, “what?”.

“Baby”, I said. He stood back up, swaying gently back and forth as we rocked another half a dozen times. He needed more information, but this time, instead of smacking me on the head, he politely bent forward, his beak pressed against my cheek and sweetly asked, “what?”. I said, “Baby Sarah. She’s going to be your best friend”.

Satisfied, he spread his wings out in what we call his “Big Eagle”, a good 4-foot span from tip-to-tip. He then bent low, his chest forward, balancing on my shoulder, arching his wings forward wrapping us in a feathered embrace. His left wing was wrapped behind my head, having gently pushed my head forward and down, so that I was staring straight down at my beautiful baby Sarah. My ear was against the side wall of his chest, in the “armpit” of his wing, giving me a new “view” of this magnificent creature – the rapid beating heart, the rustling of his feathers as they expanded, and his natural scent, similar to toasted almonds, magnified by his body heat.

I whispered a favorite verse from Psalm 57:

Be gracious to me, God, be gracious to me,
for I take refuge in You.
I will seek refuge in the shadow of Your wings
until danger passes.

Buddy “clucked” his approval, his body shaking from the effort to maintain the “hug”. “Thank you”, I told him, “thank you, Buddy. You truly are the best bird in the world”.

His next response could probably only be viewed as fabulously amazing if you are truly a parrot-finatic, like I am. He reached his beak forward, shaking his head rapidly half a dozen times, and then opened his beak displaying regurgitated food. “Food”, he pointed out to me, in case I hadn’t noticed. “Yes, indeed and how very generous of you to offer to take your turn feeding the baby, but I think she’s full now”, I said, showing him her empty bottle.

He gently pulled his wings back into his body. We three continued to rock to the relaxing sound of Buddy’s contented clucking. I am not able to see or experience events of life, no matter how small, without seeing the Lord’s hand and involvement. This glimpse into the Lord’s amazing creativity, the detail and ability given to his flying creatures left me shaking my head in wonder and awe, giving new depth of meaning to the many Scriptures throughout the Bible that equate God’s peace and protection as if experiencing it from beneath His protective wings.

To think that Buddy recognized Sarah’s vulnerable state of being -that of an innocent, helpless baby, in need of protection, and also in need of food, was an experience that defies description.

Deuteronomy 32:11
He watches over His nest like an eagle
and hovers over His young;
He spreads His wings, catches him,
and lifts him up on His pinions.

  1. That was an amazing story mom.
    Your loving daughter Sarah.
    — sarah    Jan 13, 11:10 AM    #
  2. i thought it was funny Lol
    — Margaret    Mar 22, 05:51 PM    #
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