Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Wandering around in downtown Summerville one expects to see dogs and kids. But a parrot? Not so much. Yet at the June 20 Third Thursday, that’s exactly what folks got to see.
Mickey, a 21-year-old Harlequin Macaw Parrot (he’ll be 22 in October), enjoyed the Third Thursday excitement on the arm of his new buddy, Alex Hassan, 11, of Virginia. Alex is here for the summer staying with his Dad Michael and his Dad’s partner Patricia Bergmann, Mickey’s “Mom.”
Mickey attracted a lot of interest especially from children.
“He loves kids,” said Bergmann, who has had Mickey for 20 years.
Originally from Milwaukee, WI, Bergmann moved to Summerville recently with her partner Michael, who is a special agent with the Department of the Air Force, at the Air Force base in North Charleston.
“I got Mickey when he was very young from my sister-in-law,” said Bergmann, noting that although her sister-in-law had clipped Mickey’s flight feathers when he was a baby, she never has.
“He chews them,” she said.
Bergmann is no stranger to unusual pets … when she was a child her mother had a Rhesus monkey as a pet.
Mickey lives in a huge mansion of a cage that takes up a third of the room he is in. His companion, a young Doberman, has a crate that is half the size of Mickey’s.
Mickey goes outside every day but does not have the run of the house…anymore. Back in Wisconsin he did but since they have moved and just bought a brand new house, Mickey doesn’t get to roam.
“He would chew all the woodwork,” explained Bergmann.
“So I get him sticks and pieces of wood to chew in his cage.”
Bergman explained that birds chew to trim their beaks, which continuously grow. If untrimmed the beak will curl in on itself, preventing the bird from eating easily.
Mickey knows about 30 phrases, said Bergman, including “come here, pretty bird, naughty bird, what’s up, batter up, (a few swear words) and shut-up” which he uses when the dog barks.
For the most part Mickey doesn’t understand what the words mean, said Bergman “but if I say ‘come here,’ he comes.”
“He will say ‘up’ when he wants to get on my arm,” she said.
Mickey is what is considered a mixed breed parrot – a cross between Green-winged Macaw – which is predominately red with blue and green wings – and a Blue and Gold Macaw – which is blue with a gold throat.
Bergman has two daughters who live in Wisconsin. She works as a Mentor Coordinator for The Citadel, which involves matching lowcountry professionals with cadets, MBA students and evening students in the business school.
Bergman herself has two Master’s degrees, which she earned, along with a Bachelor’s in just five years, with honors.
Mickey is easy to care for, eats people food as well as Macaw food and dog food, loves dog treats, goes outside all the time and will either sit on his stand, or, when they are doing yard work, in a nearby tree.
He loves bike riding. Sitting on the handlebars, he will ride for miles, said Bergmann.
“Back in Wisconsin I would go for 30-mile bike rides and he loved it. We would stop at a stop sign, and he would dance on the handlebars he was so excited.”
Mickey doesn’t, however, like getting wet. He didn’t used to like towels, either.
“I would wrap him in a towel to trim his claws,” explained Bergmann, “and then whenever he saw a towel he would start screeching.”
Bergmann decided to reeducate Mickey and now Mickey loves towels because his only interaction with them is playing tug of war or peek-a-boo.
Mickey and the new dog tolerate each other. When the dog was a small puppy he used to follow Mickey’s tail as Mickey walked around by the pool…in circles.
Macaws live about 80 years, said Bergman, and this worries her. “I am in my forties, what will happen to him?”
“I don’t want to sell him, because what if whoever bought him decided they didn’t want him after a few years.”
“One should really sit down and think before considering an animal that lives as long as he will live,” said Bergmann. “He’s not an ideal pet for most, but he is mine and I love him dearly. I often feel that I don’t spend enough time with him, as I should, life sometimes gets in the way. I am thankful that I now live in a climate where he gets sunshine most days and is able to stay outside longer throughout the year.”
She has thought about donating him to Busch Gardens or something similar, somewhere where he will be allowed to live out his life in one place.
In the meantime, she and Mickey are just laying back and enjoying life here in Summerville, a climate much more suited to Mickey’s love of the outdoors and a little closer to the rain forests to which he is indigenous.