The top picture is Rufus at 6 months old.
The middle picture is of him at nearly one year old. He came to me from a wonderful breeder located in Texas. Her name is Wendy and she specializes in raising Red Front macaws and Blue Throat macaws. She raises her babies in a very special way. She allows them to be fully fledged and flighted, this is something that is surprisingly uncommon in aviculture. These babies are pretty independent, self actualized, and confident, in short they act like parrots really should.
The last picture is of him pretty recently kind of grown up looking!
Rufus and I have done some pretty intensive training over the last 18 months. Our lives have been rewarding, difficult and richer for knowing each other. How things have changed for us too. Rufus also now has a big brother named Gizmo that is also a Red Fronted Macaw, in addition to Bacardi the Blue Fronted Amazon you can see in the last picture.
My biggest goal for Rufus was to train him to come to me when I called while flying free outside. It has been a long road. I am trying to put into words how difficult, yet easy the whole process was. I learned more about myself during this process than I think I really wanted to know.
These parrots are not like dogs, they don't really have any reason to work with you. They are also very much wild animals and they are prey items too. They spend a lot of time trying not to get eaten or trapped by predators and let's face it humans are predators. When picking a parrot as a subject to work with as a trainer you are really working against so many natural tendencies. What always amazed me is his willingness and interest in learning what it was I was trying to teach him, even when I wasn't doing the greatest job at it. Rufus has pretty much and endless capacity to learn and is pretty willing to learn all kinds of things, if I just had more time or maybe if I were more creative he'd do a few more interesting tricks! I am also very amazed at his willingness to forgive me on the few occasions that I have inadvertently frightened him.
So yesterday was the big day, I let him go free outside. We had been close for such a long time, like since last summer. I couldn't do it, I just wasn't ready even though he was. Finally, I was able to work through my issues and believe that the training I had done up to that point prepared us for just this occasion. It did, it went fine. I will never be able to describe in words the feeling I had when he flew right to me the first time I called him after letting him go. He was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen at the moment.
I'm sure there will be more pictures in the future and maybe some video. I know this blog sounds a little random, but thanks you all for reading it any way.
Thank you so much Hugh Choi for mentoring me through this whole process. It would have been much harder with out your experience and knowledge. Hugh and Otis have a feature on Wendy's web page, they started their free flight career in Central Park, NYC!