Laura Bodsford provides a heavenly atmosphere to a Moluccan Cockatoo, which she purchased from a bird refuge.
Bodsford explained that she never had pets growing up because of family allergies, but as soon as she was married, she and her husband, Stan, got a dog and a bird.
“Since then I have always had birds,” she said.
Bodsford, now retired, worked as a dog groomer and said she has always had a positive relationship with animals.
“I think it has a lot to do with earning their trust,” she said.
Bodsford has many pets at her home, including: three dogs, two ducks, a Persian cat, a guinea pig and a Moluccan Cockatoo, named Auggie.
Bodsford explained that she came to own Auggie after her Quaker Parrot died roughly 10 years ago.
“I was getting my hair done and talking with my hairdresser (about the Quaker Parrot) and she started telling me about her friend, Jane, who volunteered at a refuge in Kannapolis,” Bodsford said.
After contacting Jane, Bodsford learned about a lone Moluccan Cockatoo that needed a home.
“One day I was visiting my daughter, Lindsay, in Kannapolis and I decided to go to the refuge. When we got there, Auggie was sitting on his cage. He had been there for seven years and the only contact he had during that time was that someone would come every three days to feed him and change out his cage,” she said, noting that she soon fell in love with Auggie after holding him.
Bodsford immediately called Stan and asked him to drive to Kannapolis with his truck because she had something big she was bringing home.
The refuge told her an elderly woman had previously owned Auggie and when she moved to an assisted living center, the woman could no longer keep him; therefore, she had to surrender him to the refuge.
“I am guessing that she had him for about 12 years because I have had him for 10 years and he was in the refuge for seven. The vet estimated that Auggie is about 20-30 years old,” Bodsford said.
As with any new pet, the first few days are like a honeymoon and Bodsford remembers that stage very well; however, there was a period that followed that wasn’t as easy.
“When we got home, we brought Auggie in and set up his cage. We invited family over to meet him and he was very well behaved,” she said, adding that Auggie likes the attention. “But, after the newness wore off he cut a tantrum. You would have thought you were in the middle of a jungle, which is why people often get rid of the bird.”
Bodsford immediately started reading and researching to educate herself so she could figure out how to make Auggie as comfortable as possible in his new home and to learn how to properly take care of him.
“I wanted to educate myself about the responsibility I took on,” she said.
She explained that it can be traumatizing for a bird to adjust and then be moved, just as it can be for people.
“Birds a big as Auggie can live to 80 to 90-years-old, so you have to have a plan,” she said. “You can’t just adopt a bird and keep it for a few years.”
Bodsford joined several organizations that protect animals, especially birds. She said she has learned a lot, including the fact that poachers steal eggs from their nest and kill the mothers. Also, many of the birds that are smuggled across the border illegally die in transport.
Due to what she has learned, Bodsford urges people not to purchase birds from pet stores because it promotes poaching, but instead recommends for people who are interested in owning a bird to find one at a refuge and give it a second chance.
“I am against taking animals out of their natural habitat. Auggie was born in captivity. While he senses that something is missing, he could not survive in the wild. My commitment to him is to help him make the best of a bad situation,” she said. “It’s either this or have him sit in a refuge with no love and no stimulation. Getting a bird from a refuge is not only better for the animal, but it’s cheaper and (the refuge) will usually throw in the cage for free.”
She explained that there are a lot of enjoyable things about owning a large bird.
“They are very intelligent. They are sponges like a three-year-old and because of his intelligence, Auggie feels less like a pet and more like a companion,” she said. “One time I was unhappy outside on the porch. I was crying and Auggie was on my shoulder. He leaned over and ran his beak up my face on either side to wipe my tears.”
Bodsford explained that birds are not only intelligent, but are also entertaining to watch, affectionate, and can get along with other animals and humans.
“Auggie even has his favorite TV shows; he dances to music and talks,” she said. “He is very entertaining. When I call the dogs he will call them too. He even tells me when my phone is ringing if I am in another room,”
While they are beautiful and entertaining, Bodsford advises people to make sure they know what they are getting into and have a deep commitment to the bird, since they require a lot of patience, care, and mental stimulation.
“Just as they are a sponge like a three-year-old, they also throw tantrums like a three-year-old. They are very messy too. I clean Auggie’s cage once a day and sweep around his cage three times a day. Their screech can be ear splitting; they are expensive to feed; and can have a nasty bite. When they bite their beak can deliver 500 pounds of pressure. If you get a mean one, it can be bad,” she said. “This is not a pet you can stick in a cage and ignore,” she reminded.
Bodsford also warns that it is best to have a family that can tolerate the bird’s noise and isn’t jealous of the time the owner and the bird spend together.
If anyone has a question about getting a bird and would like some more information send an email to Bodsford at Lbodsford@triad.rr.com.