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A Very Interesting Story From The Curator of Birds,  National Aviary

Hello Jerry,

I checked out your site. I was very impressed. Cockatoos can make great companions but only for a small select group of people who are ready to deal with all that a Cockatoo entails. I love them but I know I could not adapt to the birds lifestyle. There are so many other birds out there that make great pets for people, everyone has to choose carefully.

I like you, get constant calls wanting us to take their cockatoo for various reasons. I refer them to our local parrot rescue who is quite good. Could I refer people to you or your web site for information?

This is an over the top but true cockatoo story. When I was in Honolulu, a woman would call me every few months crying asking me what to do about her cockatoo. It was very loving and extremely bonded to her. It had reached sexual maturity and occasionally without warning attack the woman. (my assumption is that the male bird was doing what sometimes happens if the pair is out of reproductive sync and he attacked her in an attempt to drive her to the "nest") These were not just nips or severe bites. Each time the woman ended up in the emergency room with stitches or worse.

The last time she needed reconstructive surgery on her face and physical therapy because of severed tendons on one hand. Each time she would ask me what to do. She couldn't let him go but wanted the attacks to stop. She would say, "He didn't mean it" " He's changed" "He won't do it again" "He loves me I can't leave him". All the things that you hear from continually battered women who keep going back to abusive spouses. I told her honestly and seriously that she was in an abusive relationship and she needed to get away from the bird and also get some serious counseling for battered women.

This was a text book case of spousal abuse. I even offered to try to get a professional counselor for her. She wouldn't go for it. I kept telling her if you are going to keep the bird, keep it away from your face. Needless to say she didn't listen with disastrous consequences. This is the most extreme case I have ever encountered and how she let the bird chew on her so much that she needed facial reconstruction I don't know but it is the truth.

Good luck with your work for these wonderful birds.

James Mejeur
Curator of Birds National Aviary
Allegheny Commons West
Pittsburgh, PA 15212