“We should strive to keep our hearts open to the sufferings and wretchedness of other people,
and pray continually that God may grant us that spirit of compassion which is truly the spirit of God.”
St. Vincent de Paul
(double headed yellow head Amazon parrot / Parrot Mt and Gardens/ Pigeon Forge, TN / Julie Cook/ 2020)
This picture of a double yellow-headed parrot reminded me of a time ages ago when I
was charged with caring for a similar bird…
Way back in the day, when I was probably in about the 8th or 9th grade,
my family had traveled up to north Georgia in order to visit my dad’s brother…
my aunt and uncle.
It was late fall in the north Georgia mountains, so it was cool and wet.
Out in my aunt and uncle’s garage was, of all things, a parrot.
A tropical bird in a place that was anything but tropical.
A yellow-headed parrot living life in a large cage in an enclosed garage.
It seems that my cousin, their only daughter, was now living life away as a freshman
in college, and had left behind her rather exotic pet.
Back in those days, regulations were obviously lax…
my cousin had brought the bird back home following her senior trip to the Bahamas.
My mother and I had both felt so badly for the bird that we asked my aunt if we could take
My aunt was ecstatic…as in please, YES!
So the parrot, Horatio, came to live with us in Atlanta.
This was at some point in the early ’70s.
Horatio was a smart bird.
He, she, it would call our dog by name…reaching out to grab the dog’s tail when
he’d walk past the cage.
We’d let the bird out of its cage in order to hang out with us in the den.
Horatio loved peanuts and would climb up on my mother’s arm, reaching for her
thumb while attempting to “crack open” her thumbnail as if it was a peanut.
That was a bad trait.
Since Horatio’s cage was positioned on our sun porch where he, she, it could watch TV,
he, she, it would sing the theme song from Flipper…the show about a dolphin…
this due to the fact that the bird was watching what I was watching each afternoon.
“They call him Flipper, Flipper, faster than lightning,
No-one you see, is smarter than he,
And we know Flipper, lives in a world full of wonder,
Flying there-under, under the sea!”
We had the bird for about two years until one day the bird came down with a cold.
We learned the hard way that parrots, birds in general, do not fare well with colds.
We carried Horatio to a vet, way across town, who specialized in exotic animals.
Back in the day, exotic pets were not keen on the radar of local vets.
We administered the required meds.
Monitored our beloved bird while we hoped and prayed…
However, on Thanksgiving morning of all mornings, Horatio succumbed to his, her, its cold.
The irony was not lost on any of us.
Animals come and go in our lives…and I always believe we humans are the better
for their presence in our lives.
So here’s to Horatio and the exotic parrots and birds at Parrot Mt and Gardens up in Tennesse.
When we visited this bird sanctuary about two weeks ago, it was a rainy day
in the Tennesse mountains.
My daughter-in-law called the park to ask if they were open due to the weather.
The lady told my daughter-in-law that these were Tennesse birds, they knew weather.
So off we went.
So let me just say, the birds made the Mayor very nervous.
Maybe it was the very loud and raucous calls of all the birds.
Maybe it was when we posed for a family photo with about 10 birds on our arms, shoulders,
and in our hands.
Neither the Mayor nor Sherrif would have anything to do with the birds.
(the Indian pheasant is off the mayor’s shoulder perched on the ground in the enclosure)
Despite her hesitancy, I am glad that both the Mayor and Sherrif could see up close and personal
a different type of animal.
We are better for animals.
We are better for nature.
“When uncertain about God’s will,
it is very important that we tell ourselves:
‘Even if there are aspects of God’s will that escape me,
there are always others that I know for sure and can invest in without any risk,
knowing that this investment always pays dividends.’
These certainties include fulfilling the duties of our state in life and practicing
the essential points of every Christian vocation.
There is a defect here that needs to be recognized and avoided:
finding ourselves in darkness about God’s will on an important question…
we spend so much time searching and doubting or getting discouraged,
that we neglect things that are God’s will for us every day,
like being faithful to prayer, maintaining trust in God,
loving the people around us here and now. Lacking answers about the future,
we should prepare to receive them by living today to the full.”
Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 55
An Excerpt From