RUSTY, a Catalina Macaw
Rusty is a hybrid macaw, a mix between a Blue & Gold Macaw and a Scarlet Macaw. Rusty is now 12 years old also. In 1992, Jenifer's Moluccan Cockatoo, Karma, flew away (another reason she began to clip her own birds' wings!). Because she knew that birds were never MEANT to be alone, Jenifer took Zutar with her everywhere. He was the only family bird and he needed to be part of the family. After a day on the golf course where Zutar had made himself unwelcome by imitating very loudly the sound of the cart backing up, Jenifer's husband, Leon, decided it was time for another bird.
When we went to the store to find a companion for Zuey, Rusty was there. Leon picked Rusty up and thought that he was such a sweet bird. The real truth of the matter was that Rusty was scared to the point of almost paralysis. He didn't do anything as he was touched and cuddled but shiver in fear. When Rusty was brought home, he immediately bit Leon visciously on the arm (removing a chunk). It took approximately one year of working with Rusty daily to eliminate the fear response of lunging and biting at anyone in his immediate vicinity.
We found out later that Rusty had originally been bought by a dog and cat veterinarian and stayed in his office. This poor little bird spent the first two years of his life in a cage in a room where dogs and cats and people came in daily with their own problems and stress. You can imagine how scared he must have been as the prey in a roomful of predators!
Rusty now rarely bites and certainly not very hard if he does. Old habits do die hard, though. He seems to have a lot of fun doing his parts of our show and waving goodbye to everyone at the end.