topimage (48K)

Why A Rosella?

A Wordy,   Dull Tale
Don't gather 'round to read this long-winded, boring tale. I'm telling the long version of this story because I need content. It's all about ME, with a little bit about buying a bird in a mostly unremarkable transaction.

In the Pet Store

It all started in the pet store near my house, where they often have baby parrots for sale I like to look at them, and dream of one day being fabulously wealthy and getting a Rose-Breasted Cockatoo. Also known as a Galah. One day when I went in there was a cage containing five parrots of a type I'd never seen before. They were not very big, for parrots, just a little bigger than a cockatiel, and very, very pretty. Mostly green, what I call "parrot green" (like the color of an Amazon Parrot). In addition to green there were small patches of bright red here and there, and greenish blue on their faces, with a mix of blue, teal and darker green on their wings and tails. They seemed not at all fearful, just very friendly and curious, crowding each other aside trying to get nearer to me.

Taming Birds

I once worked in a pet store where I made it my business to tame as many of the cockatiels as I could, reasoning that tame birds would not only sell better, would have a much better chance of leading less fearful, stressful lives than birds that were afraid of humans. As this store always had more than a dozen cockatiels on hand, there were plenty of birds for me to choose from: I quickly learned how to recognize the birds which would be easiest to tame. The birds which are the least firghtened, of course. It's easy to tell which birds are the most frightened: they are the ones which try the hardest to get as far as possible from a face at their window. Conversely, the most promising birds are the ones who act is if they're more interested than frightened. At least in a relative sense, if not literally.

But What ARE They??

So here were these gorgeous, colorful young birds trying to get closer to me. What kind were they? I asked, and was told Crimson Rosellas. Huh, I thought, some kind of misnomer? Maybe the guy that named them was red/green color-blind or something, I'd met people like that. But why did the name stick? Waste of a good name, calling these birds crimson when there was hardly any red on them at all. Rainbow Rosella was more like it. Regarding their tameness, I was told that far from being hand-raised or tame, they'd been outside in an aviary, and a little neglected, as the dad bird had abused them and pulled out a bunch of their feathers while the owner was out of town or something. They looked fine now, apparently enough time had gone by for them to recover. I was assured they hadn't looked so good before, but "we've been working with them, they're a lot better now." And no, working with them meant time and quiet, they had never been handled at all. Wow, I thought, totally untame, yet still totally unafraid? They'd be totally easy to make friends with! And so pretty! I wanted one. But the price made it out of the question.

But They're Not Crimson!

I strolled over to the book section to see if I could learn more about this species, which I'd never heard of. I didn't find any Rosella books. I didn't really expect to, since I like to look at bird books, and I never seen, read about, nor heard of this kind. The store did have a copy of that giant encyclopedia of parrot species which has entries for everything, so of course I found an entry for the Crimson Rosella. I learned that there are several kinds of Rosella. The book said that Rosellas are native to Australia, though also found in New Zealand. There were color drawings of birds which looked nothing like the birds I had just seen. There were birds of black and yellow, and there were birds of red and blue. The picture showed birds which were red all over, except for big blue circles on either side of their beaks, and a lacy black and red pattern on their backs. All my favorite colors, pretty, pretty, pretty! Well, good, I thought, at least these birds, the ones in the book, deserve to be called crimson. But these aren't those! They can't be. I went and found another employee, and asked were they sure those were Crimson Rosellas, they didn't look anything like the ones in the book! Yes, they're really Crimson Rosellas, just that they don't look like that. (Huh?) Okaaaaay... It still looked impossible that the birds I was looking at could be the same as the birds shown in the book.

I imagined having a RED parrot. How cool is that? Anybody could have a mere green parrot. And, since they were smaller than any cockatoo, they'd probably be less demanding of time and attention. The Galah moved to second place on my fantasy list. The pet store sold all of its pretty young birds long before I was in a position to think seriously about getting one. I kept looking, but in the time that followed I never again saw a rosella for sale.

Phoning Parrot Breeders

When I was finally in a position to start thinking seriously about getting a bird I asked again at the same pet store if they would ever get any Rosellas in again, but was told that it was not likely. While of course the pet store wouldn't tell me where they'd gotten their birds, I did get a name of someone in a bird club in Santa Rosa. I started making phone calls. The first three people I spoke to each had no rosellas themselves, but recommended another person to call. The fourth lady had had Rosellas, but none available now. She confided that they didn't have the greatest temperments, and a reputation for killing their mates. Alarming news, but after all, I just wanted one. I wasn't planning to breed them. She recommended several phone numbers. One gave no answer. The next person I spoke to was not actually a breeder per se, he just had two Rosellas and some hopes. Oh well, still one phone number left. I called it. The man who answered wanted to know how I'd gotten his number. I explained that a breeder in Penngrove had told me that he might have some Rosellas and that I wanted to get one. He burst out laughing and said, "It's January! I don't have any babies now! Call back in March!" -and hung up. Well, geez. But at least he sounded like he had some!

I called back in March. "I don't know if you remember me, but I called in January, looking for a Rosella?" No, he didn't remember, but why would I want a Rosella? I explained that I'd seen some in a pet store, and I wanted to get one. "Those aren't pets, those are aviary birds, you don't want one for a pet." I didn't really understand what that meant. "Will you still sell me one?" "I don't have any eggs yet, try back in May." But we talked some more, and he agreed to allow me to come see his birds, and give him money towards a baby that was bound to be along sooner or later. He told me his name, Jack Long, and how to get to his place, Creekside Birds.

Creekside Birds

Creekside Birds is in the area of Point Reyes Station. I parked under a gigantic beautiful willow tree in the front. Biggest weeping willow I've ever seen. There was a row of aviaries, sort of a bird version of a row of kennels, off to the side. I didn't notice them at first because I was distracted by the ostrich standing in front of them. Jack and I met in his living room to talk about birds and layaways and birds and birds. There were three big white Cockatoos. One absolutely lovely charming bird was allowed out of her cage. She was quite delighted to find that I was able to carry on a little body language conversation with her while having a verbal conversation with Jack. After about 20 minutes he remarked, "she really likes you. She doesn't do that with many people." By this point, the Cockatoo and were almost cuddling, as she had been slowly edging closer and closer to me along the back of the couch as I surreptitiously played peek-a-boo with her by turning my head just so.

Bird Envy

How nice, I thought, to be able to have Cockatoos. Cockatoos need a lot of attention. Being home all day is the least of the requirements. The backyard has peacocks. The backyard has a lake. The lake has swans. And ducks. Rare, exotic-type ducks. And geese. My envy of Jack's beautiful bird collection was countered by seeing that he spent just about every waking hour caring for them. While we talked for a little in the living room, most of the time we spent talking we also spent walking, as he had to keep to his feeding schedule. Good heavens, are you still reading this? I hope you haven't read my dreadful wordy dullness straight through, hoping to find the good part. There is no good part, you silly thing. I can't write, and I certainly don't have time to spend editing this hopeless rambling into something readable, I have homework to do.