So get ready for a long blogpost today. As per the online Oxford Dictionary : the definition of Serendipity is: the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way:a fortunate stroke of serendipity
There is no way that anyone could have ever told me a year and a half ago that one day I'd live with a severe macaw. There's no way that I'd believe that one day I'd even allow a macaw to perch on me. I would have balked and told you that this could be one of the most assinine of things that I had ever heard. Previous to Mabel I couldn't care LESS about Macaws. I didn't dislike them. I just didn't think anything of them and had had the tendency to look past them. Perhaps even look right through them. They weren't on my parrot radar. So much for all of that!
Here's the story of how I first met Mabel. It wasn't an official *meet and greet*. In 2008 I met my dream parrot Emma African grey at a certain petshop. Since Emma was only 10 weeks old at the time, I had to wait until she was completely weaned before bringing her home. I used to visit her every single day. When Emma was about 16 weeks old I happened to notice that a *new* baby parrot had arrived. There was already a sign on her cage indicating that she was SOLD and the person who had reserved her had named her Chloe. I paid no mind. Mini macaws were not very interesting in my opinion and I was into *calmer and quieter* types of parrots not the flashy and LOUD ones.
Emma weaned at 23 weeks old. As mentioned, I visited her every single day. At the time I also noticed that Chloe's owner rarely seemed to visit. In fact I never had the chance to meet or see her. I remember seeing Chloe become very animated when she would see me come in to visit my Emma. Once again, not my type of parrot. Even though I had zero interest in her I do remember feeling sympathetic that she was not getting the out of cage time that she deserved. Fast forward to fall 2010 - about 2 years later. I was at the petshop to gather info about aquariums and as I was passing by the avian section I happened to notice a parrot who seemed so desperate for interaction. She was banging her beak wildly on the cage bars. Her feather condition was unkempt and ratty looking. Large dark splotches all over, beak was overgrown and nails were far too long. I remember thinking that this bird had a very crazed look about it. Such bloodshot eyes which seemed to be begging me to come closer. Not the type of parrot I would normally pay attention to. I asked the petshop staff about this bird out of curiosity. Lo and behold, they informed me that it was the same severe macaw that had arrived over 2 years ago. But what was she still doing here? Why did she look so poorly?!! It turned out that the same person who had put the deposit on her had changed her mind once the parrot was weaned. Apparently Chloe had bitten her during a visit. She decided she was done with this parrot so Chloe was now for sale AGAIN and had been living in the petshop for the last 2 years!! I was stunned, saddened and mortified at this news. I thought back to my Emma who had left the petshop a long time ago and all the great stuff she had experienced. I felt hurt for this parrot. How unfair and how sucky life had turned out for her. The petshop staff explained to me that she was also known as the *aggressive and mean* bird. It was not easy to sell her. They all knew that she wasn't really mean. She simply lacked hands on attention and this is why she lunged when anyone came close and bit if anyone handled her. Many of them were afraid of handling her so they avoided letting her out. Unfortunately this is often the fate of many parrots who land in petshops. If they aren't sold fast enough they are often *forgotten* in the hustle and bustle of business. Ensuring that a parrot remains tame requires actual work and commitment. If you neglect, you get what Mabel had become or was becoming. I spoke up and told them that if they wanted to sell her they would have to start spending more time with her, otherwise who would want to purchase her. I also felt bad for the lack of toys that she had in her cage. She had a toy but it was really not a great one. Made of extremely hard wood and too large for her to get her beak around.
That night I went home and couldn't get this parrot out of my head. I felt grief for her. I worried about her fate. Who she'd end up with and whether life would turn out even worse than what she had already experienced in her short life. In the meantime I did my own personal research online about severe macaws and felt even more stressed out about my findings. There were alot of positives written about the severe macaw but when it came to the negatives I found out that of all the mini macaws, this species has a reputation for being rehomed or abandoned the most. This is usually due to their *attitudes, behavioral problems and loudness* etc. What ALSO alarmed me very much was the lack of info from actual severe macaw owners.
What a dilemma! I couldn't understand why I couldn't get this parrot out of my head. I felt tortured with worry. I worried about her staying forever at the petshop. I worried that she'd get sold to someone who was not equipped to give her the life she deserved. I decided to make a personal commitment to visit her regularly and bring her some fun enrichment. When I arrived at the petshop the store personnel were so happy to see me. They had taken my advice about spending more time with Choe to heart. They had started to take her out more *inspite* of being afraid that she'd bite the Sh%T out of them. She had made progress and was apparently friendlier. One of them asked me if I wanted to hold her and before I could blurt or yell out NO, he handed her over to me. I wanted to faint and scream simultaneously. What happened next blew me out of the water. Chloe was evidently very happy to be on me. Her eyes started to pin like mad and she didn't bite at all. She REALLY liked me. I wasn't sure I liked her even a little bit. I really wasn't used to seeing that type of eye pinning and found it a bit unsettling. She did bring her beak down to my hand but it was just to explore. I was amazed but very suspicious. We ended up hanging out for about 45 minutes and of course she LOVED the toys I had brought her. I went home happy but more perplexed than before I had arrived at the petshop. For some reason I felt responsible for this poor bird. I felt protective of her too. I didn't want any harm to come to her yet I didn't understand why I cared at all. I already had 2 parrots. More than enough. I also already had 2 of everything I needed for them. I did not need a 3rd wheel. The more I thought about it the more I realized that I cared and I just couldn't walk away. I have always felt strongly about helping those who are unfortunate or who had been dealt an unfair hand. I have a general hate for injustice. The next day I went back to the petshop merely to visit with some toys for *Chloe*. The store manager told me that she had spoken to head office and they could sell her to me at cost. Wow! What good news, yet I didn't feel equipped to bring home another parrot. Definitely not a severe macaw, especially after everything I had read about them. As I opened Chloe's cage to offer her a toy she just hopped on. She lit up! It was so obvious that she was EXTREMELY happy to see me and everyone who was watching saw the same thing too. It was at that moment that I realized that that *Chloe* had made a decision to come home with me and even though I felt uncertain about her I didn't have the heart to leave her in the petshop for another day. What happened next was pretty astonishing. It was as if she knew that she was leaving. She really started to perk up and couldn't stop doing somersaults and bopping up and down on my arm. As we walked around the petshop to purchase some perches and stainless steel bowls I told her that her name was no longer Chloe. Her new name would be Mabel and Mabel means Lovable. Here are some photos and a video taken on her first day home in October 2010.