George, the Scarlet Macaw
Submitted by Bird Club member April Warwick
George is a scarlet macaw and is approximately 37 years old. George is beautiful brilliant red from his humongous beak to a quarter of the way down his wings and body. From underneath George looks totally red, but on top under his wings his body turns from red to a turquoise blue. His wing colors change from red to yellow to blue with hints of green. His face has that scraggily old man look because the skin on his face has wrinkles.
My daughter, Jennifer fell in love with him while working at a local pet store and brought him home two and a half years ago. It did not take long for me to bond with George and we became best friends. George likes to chew on rocks, like people chew on gum, as I take the dogs for a walk in the woods. George does not fly, but sometimes he pretends he is flying by spreading his wings up and over my head and flaps! While walking I am often approached by people on the trails who try to get George to talk. In these situations, he usually does not talk much and seems to prefer hearing people talk to him. But at other times he makes up for this and fills our neighborhood with some of his phrases: “Hello, come-on baby, come here, give me kiss, what’s ya doing, peek-a-boo, George, up, want a bite, Polly wants a cracker, you want some, umm good, bye.” Of course, this is all accompanied with many animal impersonations.
George’s veterinarian gave us lots of valuable information and alerted us to his low body weight. He only weighs 2.5 pounds and should weigh closer to four. We have been hand feeding him a variety of food, along with supplements but he has not yet gained any substantial weight.
At home George lives with two Amazon birds (Sativa and Misses Kron), three dogs, one cat, one box turtle, one snapping turtle, two bunnies, and one chinchilla and he holds his ground with all of them. When it comes to people, George prefers females over males and without intervention he full-heartedly will chase, attack, and bite. I find it amazing that little old George will start fights with my 100-pound dog or my 200-pound boyfriend, Bob. Is it courage or what?
George’s other activities include, picking our carpets apart, one yarn at a time, to the point we had to remove them. Now he looks for skins flaws on me and picks at them. Or if he is in the mood to play he will make a sound and look at me to mimic him and then the game begins, but he insists on being the leader. George also loves to dance to music and seems very interested in hearing me sing which makes me wonder if he is as tone death as I am. George is big on kidnapping, he clings to my arm and does not want to get off, try reading the paper with him! In the summer George likes our back yard and if the sprinkler is on he loves to run in the grass and get wet.
After George slept with Jennifer a number of times and reported he never went to the bathroom I tried on a night when Bob was working. During the night, George either sits on me or at the foot of the bed. Before he goes to sleep he rubs his beak making a weird sound repetitively and every so often he snaps his wings. In the morning, I wake up to George’s face up against mine as he says “hello George.”
The Alaska Bird Club helps me to be a better caregiver for George. I enjoy the company of others who love their birds and learn from their experiences. I especially enjoyed talking with Leanna and Lin who knew more about George’s past than I. They were the one’s who told me George’s true age and because of his age they figure he was taken from the wild. Also they informed me that George lived with a man and two other macaws for many years until the man died and then George, Burt, and Bart went to a pet store in Anchorage. Leanna visited George at the pet store over the five years he was there. She said George was potty-trained, talked a lot, and had been treated well by his previous owner. When George disappeared from the pet store and came to our house, unbeknown to us Leanna started searching for him. It was a happy time to meet Leanna to end her search for George and learn so much about him!
On George’s first Christmas with us, my daughter gave me full custody of George!! My begging paid off, plus it saved her from vet bills and transferred all bird responsibilities to me. George and I share a special bond, we have our understandings, and we have fun together. I smile daily because of George. I love him lots and only ask that he gains weight and lives a long and happy life.
Note: This is one of three macaws that used to be a group and that lived together for over 15 years. Their names are Bart, Burt and George. A local pet store split them up and sold them individually. The Alaska Bird Club has located two of the three and have reunited them. If you are aware of who owns Bart, please contact us as we'd like to show him that the other two are 'okay'. If you know someone that owns a macaw named Bart, contact email@example.com