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-- by Susan Ferguson 2003

In October of 1999 I obtained my first Great Billed Parrot. And of course, I knew little about this genus. On our six hour drive back home from MO to AR I became startled several times when this bird made noises I had never heard come out of a bird. And within two days we were on our way to Tulsa, to have a vet check. I knew little about the Great Billed Parrot and upon my arrival at my vet’s office she had a parrot book out looking up information on this bird, there was very little. All we knew was there were many subspecies of the Great Billed Parrot with a wide range of weights. But I knew this bird was special. As we traveled, he would look up through the sun roof his eyes seemed to follow everything. As I have learned in life our eyes are the window to our soul, so this seemed to apply to this Great Bill, and have come to believe that all Great Billed Parrots communicate more with their eyes than regular bird body language, if we will be quite and open our minds.  This bird was healthy and sent me on my quest for more information on this genus. This Great Billed turned out to be a male, and named him Harvey.

In January of 2000 I met Diana Holloway, and I was so over whelmed, she sat down and visited with me for an hour and a half. This was my first contact with The Tanygnathus Society. I then contacted June Dinger and then high energy of new information filled my life. I was receiving all kinds of information, and then one night a call came that there was a lone Great Billed Parrot in Orlando that needed a new home. I did my homework, June, filled me in and felt as though the bird should not be shipped. This particular bird’s feathers had been picked by another bird in a Pet Store situation, and the breeder took the bird back looking for a home. In April of 2000 I flew to Orlando to pick this bird up. I was prepared; I had packed a pet carrier in my suitcase, had extra towels, I had asked the owner to obtain a health certificate, and had made a reservation for the bird thorough the airlines for my return trip. When the bird was dropped off at the hotel, this poor little bird screamed forever. Only 10 months old, this bird had been shuffled back and forth, her right wing and breast area had been picked, by another bird, as the story goes. So for the next 24 hours, I kept a towel over the carrier, and placed some apple slices, grapes, celery, carrots, and some pieces of bread in her carrier.

Fortunately on our trip home we had one stop in St Louis and did not have to change planes. Emmy only made a small noise when new passengers were boarding, all these feet came past her carrier, but most of the trip she was an angel. Upon arrival in Tulsa, we went straight to my Vet’s office where blood work was taken, and she would be quarantined in Tulsa. My vet is always vary understanding, while quarantined, doctor allowed a television in the room for entertainment. This Great Billed was thought to be a male but she turned out to be a female, thus Emmy, short for Emerald. After being quarantined, Emmy came to join Harvey. Dick Ivy took a picture of these two birds together in May of 2000, publishing the picture in Bird Clubs of America. Where Emmy had been picked was vary obvious.

When Emmy molted and started to grow in new green feathers. Feathers came out but she started to shred her feathers only on her right wing and in breast area. June Dinger has stated that feather picking is very common in these birds, but I noticed that Emmy had only picked at her feathers where she had been picked by another bird when she was little.

In October 2001 two more Great Billed Parrots were added to the flock, a year old male, and a six month old female. When Emmy started to molt, her beautiful green feathers came out. This time she did not shred her feathers. In October 2002 another female was added to flock which now totals 5. Emmy is now ending her molt for 2003, and continues to grow in beautiful feathers and up to the present, she has not shredded her feathers again.  Has Emmy learned that her flock will not pick her feathers? So she will not shred or pick her own feathers. Who knows?  However, we will continue this journey and keep you up to date about Emmy and our flock.

My passion for Tanygnathus continues, how many more “Emmy’s” are there out there? Please join The Tanygnathus Society, and join our passion for the birds.

--Susan Ferguson, for The Tanygnathus Society, 2003


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