In Loving Memory
of Those Who Are Lost But Never Forgotten. They Are Our Inspiration.
The members of the Indonesian Parrot Project teach in many different venues outside of Indonesia using either written or spoken presentations.
However, sometimes the birds — on whose behalf we work — provide the most poignant, inspiring and even life-changing lessons. Therefore, we provide below eulogies to some very special birds (and a human) who have inspired us:
These birds (among many other who could be cited), exemplify the many remarkable trait of parrots, especially their sentience and sensitivity, as well as their intelligence and ability to communicate with receptive persons in a non-verbal (and even at times, verbal ) ways.
An Elegy for China: A Shooting Star Whose Light Was Extinguished Long Before Her Time
In 1993, I first fell in love with parrots, largely due to the comical, yet somehow stately antics of a magnificent Moluccan cockatoo at a zoo. By the end of 1994, I brought home China, a gorgeous one-year old Moluccan hen. Now isn’t the time or place to try to describe her wonderful qualities. I’ve never been able to, anyhow.
But by 1997, I was searching frantically to determine whether these jewels were still alive in the wild, since there was so little information available about them. Since then, whatever little bit I have been able to, or tried to, accomplish for parrots (especially cockatoos) in the wild and in captivity, has been inspired by China.
China had a foot-long cylindrical steel bell inside her cage which she loved. When I woke her up each morning, I usually said, “China, ring your Happy Bell.” She would furiously shake it like a rattle, as if there was so much joie de vivre inside her that she simply could not contain it all. But when I found her on May 6, after she had collapsed and died, she looked liked a tattered Raggedy-Ann doll. Or like Homer’s warrior Gorgythion, his head drooping in death , like a red poppy weighed down after a Spring shower. Even in death, China was still beautiful. She died at the far-too-young age of ten.
Now there is huge hole in my heart for that pink bundle of love and “trouble”, who died, ironically, because her heart was too big. Her deep, knowing eyes are no longer bright. But that only means that we must redouble our efforts to help these wonderful, and very-special creatures. We have tortured them, both in the wild and in captivity. These birds seem to me to be “star-crossed” like Romeo and Juliet. As if accursed by the Gods, they have been knocked down over and over again — largely because of the very qualities which enthrall them to us.
We say that parrots live a long time, but China’s flame was quickly burnt out like a candle in the rain. She was a shooting star whose brightness was extinguished long before its time. For now, China, your wings have lost their fire, like sunset fallen behind the horizon. But tomorrow, you rise, with your feathers once again ablaze with the dazzling flames of the sun. You have traversed a full circle— the Moluccan Mandala.
Thank you for showing me a glimpse of stars and of suns, even of dreams and of heavens. Now, it’s time for you to fly away home.
Your glow must, and will, continue to provide a beacon for years to come, to light the search back to a pristine world, long ago and far away. In the canopy of your ancestral home on Seram, your proud cries, and those of your cousins, will always call out : “I am Cockatoo; Hear me now!”
I hear you, China. I always will.
“I believe in things unseen
I believe in the message of a dream
and I believe in what you are
because you loved me”
[ from “Because You Loved Me “, words by John Scott Sherrill, Kostas (c) Sony/ATV Songs , 1998 ]”Nothing’s gonna harm you, not while I’m around…
Demons are prowling everywhere, nowadays
I’ll send them howling, I don’t care–I’ve got ways
No one’s gonna hurt you , no one’s gonna dare.
Others can desert you, not to worry, whistle, I’ll be there
Demons can charm you with a smile, for a while, but in time
Nothing can harm you;
Not while I’m around.”
[ from ” Not While I’m Around”, Sweeney Todd (c) Stephen Sondheim; ; original production 1979 ]Montage of China with crest feathers courtesy of the wonderful artistic talent
of Connie Pavlinac.
Thank you so much Connie!
Lito: written by Rosemary Low
Lito, my green angel
I believe that the greatest privilege a human can experience is a close and enduring relationship with a wild-born creature. Lito was my companion for 39 years, five months and seven days. She taught me to much about the emotions and sentience of parrots that whenever I hear people question or deny that animals can have feelings or that they can reason, I am sad and angry. Lito was a joyous creature whose happiness so often brought joy to others. When she died. on October 4 2006, part of me died too. The unique relationship that we shared was of a kind that few will ever know…I was truly blessed with her friendship. My heart and my home seem empty but her presence will live forever.
A Tribute to Tootster
This is my tribute to one of the most amazing creatures on this planet … and I was so lucky to be able to share almost half of my life with him. Life without him will never be the same, but I am happy that he is flying free.
Love to all of you and may we all be blessed with gentle spirits like Tootster.
A Song for Putri
Several years ago, my close friend and ‘bird mentor’ Emily came across this beautiful young Citron-crested cockatoo in a pet store near Seattle. She had been living there, for, if I recall correctly, about two years, but was treated well for none of those. She was allowed to fly in the shop, but was chased back into her cage by staff wielding a pole.
And the owner would reach into cage roughly to grab her in order to show to any possible buyers. But after two years, no one had bought her. So Em took her home, and after both of us declared that we would love to have her in our respective Flocks, I got to take her home and live my band of feathered hooligans. She was named “Putri Cantik”, Indonesian for Beautiful Princess
PurtiAfter a period of mistrust, we became great “buddies” and she received the usual host of diminutive names that birds have to tolerate—including “Pooter”, Tootin’ Pootin, and “Poot-Poot.” Putri was not sexually mature when we got her, but soon became so. She bonded to me extremely tightly and the combination of the two was the first of many mistakes, by my not discouraging sufficiently the behavior derived from her hormonal maturation. Despite her bonding to me, she loved everybody, especially Emily and my other good friend and “bird mentor” Stephanie.
Putri was not a great bird for talking or doing tricks, but then, none of these things is why I love parrots. It is the behavior, the sentience, the intelligence, and their affectionate nature. However, Putri did say “Hi, Baby” with great frequency, and she would do a great imitation of a bobble-head cockatoo doll. Putri often yelled mightily when she wanted either food or attention, which she usually got. She was good at manipulating me and was an extremely smart, in ways hard to put down on paper. She flew around the house with great precision. She loved her showers, flapping with great abandon (see second photo,below). But her favorite was to fly to my shoulder and then down to my chest, where she would lie against whatever shirt I was wearing, just to be held or perhaps to feel my warmth or my heartbeat—something that became even more significant later.
But then one day, we noticed that she was plucking out feathers, which progressed at an alarming rate. A “complete” check up with her vet revealed nothing helpful.
Nor did a trial of high-dose leuprolide (Lupron) reduce either her unmistakably-hormonal behavior (or) her Feather Destructive Behavior (FDB). [In fact, neither I nor my friends have ever seen ANY change either in hormonal behavior or in FDB with high-dose leuprolide treatment].
We thought that a change of environment might help, especially to be with a birdie buddy—Emily’s Citron-crested cockatoo. Indeed, the two seemed to be getting along fine and we were overjoyed that the two would become best friends.
But later, Putri started mutilating herself under her “wing pit” (remember that her FDB began at MY house, not my friend’s). She bled significantly but managed to chew her way out of several types of protective collars. The ONLY thing that would calm her down was to be held to the chest of my friends or me. She was sutured after laser treatment to help obtain a sterile field and debride the wound . After this relatively benign procedure, and after anesthesia wore out, Putri’s heart stopped beating.
Parrot lovers know that they can never say or write what the loss of a beloved parrot means to them. Nor can I. But an anonymous poet came close:
“Some say they don’t believe that angels can be seen or heard.
What a shame, such blindness. What a pity, such deafness.
When the Song of songs abounds and Heaven’s flyers are all around only
thinly disguised as birds”
There is an irony in this. Our work to help conserve Salmon-crested (Seram) cockatoos in the wild, was greatly fostered by the death of my beloved Salmon-crested cockatoo, China. And. As if by fate, we [The Indonesian Parrot Project) had just recently turned our attention to Lesser Sulphur (Yellow)-crested cockatoos , including the Citron-crest, in the wild.
Is there a lesson from all this? Yes, if we choose to “see” it. These birds were never meant to be in cages, but rather flying free, as I was fortunate enough to witness in the wild on Sumba Island, Indonesia—their sole remaining home. We, “the most intelligent specie on earth” have seen fit, in our desire to own and display, have decimated them in their forest homes and stuck them in cages for our pleasure. Enough is enough.
But Putri Cantik was much more than a lesson. She was joy, and joie de vivre, incarnate.
For you, Pooter, I close with this poem from an anonymous author:
That which created me has called me to duty in other lands upon other worlds
and it is with honor that I answer the call.
Know that I am still with you. I am as the dust in the wind, I am the brilliance
of the light, I am the gleaming stars at night. I am here, I am there, I am forever
resting gently upon your shoulder, I am with you always.
Call my name and you shall hear my voice within you. You and I are One, just as
it is with all things.
We are omnipresent in Spirit, we are One with Creation, You and I, for Kindred
Spirits never die; we are One, You and I.
Goodbye, Poot-Poot, we will miss you so much.
This week I lost a dear friend of mine, a 42 year old Jardines parrot named Henrietta. As you will see in the photo and video Henrietta was not much to look at … but in that tiny bald-headed body there was a huge personality.
Henrietta was set up for breeding for over 30 years with a male Jardines. He plucked her head repeatedly and his chest so they looked like quite a pair. I adopted them about 9 years ago, took away the nestbox and let them move about freely in the bird room. About two years later he passed away and Henrietta started a whole new life.
Ironic that I think that all along as a hand-raised parrot she just wanted to be a companion bird. Her greeting each time she saw you would be a fart then a kissing noise. She had health issues — overgrown beak due to liver damage previously in her life but she was always up and bright.
She got out once and had a chance to try her wings — even though she flew directly over the river in front of my home and perched high in a tree. Her rescue was successful and only bad part was that her bald head got sunburned.
She lived a noble life and I am glad that she is now flying free over the river with no worries.
All of us that love and live with animals know that we are blessed. – Bonnie Zimmerman
The Indonesian Parrot Project, and parrot lovers world-wide, have been saddened greatly by the loss of Diana (Di) Holloway on January 18, 2009.I knew Di who was the Species Specialist to the Indonesian Parrot Project for Tanygnathus species (as well as Vice-President of The Tanygnathus Society, which includes the Great-billed Parrot. Diana observed her flock of Tanygnathus megalorhynchos (Great-Billed Parrots) for about 15 years and successfully bred second-generation domestic Great-Bills since 2000. This extensive experience provides us with expert insights into this species, which is one of the ‘flagship’ parrot species in our program.
Diana had also served for 11 yrs. as President of The Amazona Society [which began with Diana and a few friends] . A parrot keeper for 20+ years, Diana had bred seven species of Amazons (several to the third generation) and five species of macaws before retiring her flock. Diana felt that promoting environmental enrichment, researching natural instinctive behavioral traits, and generational breeding, will ensure the survival of some species . Therefore she concentrated her educational programs revolving around these concepts. Even after retiring from the field of clinical psychology, Di also continued to hold a board position on a family and child advocacy agency, and as a councilwoman on the Bryan, Ohio City Council.
Eulogies have flocked in. Steven Frasier of the Amazona Sociey wrote:
“Diana Holloway lived life as an Amazon’s Amazon, words that I know she would fully understand and be humbled by their meaning and depth. She would think it too much an honor, but the Amazons know the tribute as appropriate. Her love for Amazons and the people they owned was bondless. Di helped so very many of us pass through the deep sorrow and loss of our Amazons and the celebration and joyful arrival of a new Amazon into our hearts. Diana had this unique ability to believe in each of us and see our abilities beyond what we knew possible or probable. Her support, inspiration and ability to encourage us to step forward, to take a chance that in each case allowed us growth and our Amazon’s a healthier and happier life. She seemed to sense when we needed a soft word, congratulation, or a slight nudge in the right direction.”
“…she was a very feisty and intelligent woman who said what she thought and didn’t pull any punches. I really liked her because of her strength and her truthful speaking. She was a person that one could trust.”
But within that strength lay a softness and caring. We remember her with love, but can only guess at the love and joy she brought to her birds, and which her birds brought to her.