Sunday, February 01, 2009


On a bright golden afternoon in November, I was down by the rio, and met a man walking his bird.

I have seen some unusual things in the bosque before - a guy on a unicyle, tandem bicyclists in matching outfits, llamas on leashes, a triplet-stroller, a Great Dane as big as a horse, a draft horse as big as a house. But I had not met a man walking a bird before this.

The bird's name is Baby Girl - and she was excited by the sounds of geese and ducks and cranes at the river. Her owner, Tim, told me about her - I wish I could remember everything he said.

Baby can't fly. She is an African Grey Parrot, and like many of her kind, she was captured in the Congo, and her wings were broken. She was put in box, along with hundreds of other enslaved parrots, and shipped across the sea. This practice is of course illegal, since the African Grey is a threatened species, and importation of wild-caught parrots is prohibited for the pet trade.

Nonetheless at least 20% of the global population is taken from the wild annually.

When Tim adopted her, he says it was like taking on the care of a 3-yr old child. She understands many commands and phrases and is as intelligent as a 6-yr old. (See this clip of an African Grey Parrot talking - they are able to mimic human speech incredibly well: Einstein Baby lived in a cage for 19 years until Tim started caring for her, and taking her out for walks.

That same afternoon, I saw this freshly-dead animal on the path. It's a long-tailed or bridled weasel. I wonder if it had escaped from the north beach area that has been cleared out by the US Army Corps of Engineers in a fuel-reduction project. I was sad to see this little guy. I was inspired to write a photo essay about the bosque clearing, you can read it here.

That very day my sister-in-law fell and broke both ankles.

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