This is a love story.
Come to think of it, two.
You see, Alexis Seifert loves birds – most especially, Moluccan Cockatoos. She has dedicated her life to retrieving these remarkable, sometimes troubled birds from difficult situations and, at the back of her Pontiac home, manages a non-profit bird rescue operation called Featherheads, Inc.
“If I have a troubled Cockatoo,” Seifert said, “I seem to be able to relate to them. Gently, I’ll wrap him or her in a towel. I’ll talk to it; touch its head and face. I just seem to have a relationship with Cockatoos. We’re both birdbrains, I suppose, but the truth is, I’ve known birds a lot smarter than people.”
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When you walk into the Featherheads aviary, the Cockatoos greet you with a loud cacophony of – well – Cockatoo talk. They bob up and down on thick branches.They are happy to see you. They look at you sideways, with their big black eyes, and you can’t help but be charmed.
They also come in distinct pairs because, as Seifert said, “they like to have someone to roost with.”
So, meet Bailey and Lucy (“Like Lucy in the cartoons,” Seifert said.). Meet Jazzy and Jessica, Filly and Charlie, Chris and Pepper (“A swaggerer.”). Brosius and Bubba (“He’s the biggest of the bunch. He looks like a football player.”). Baby and Confetti (“He will dance for you.”).
So that’s the first love story – the one in which Seifert, a 73-year-old retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, takes care of a slew of Cockatoos, which have come to her by way of human beings no longer able or willing to care for the creamy-colored creatures with crests of brilliant orange feathers.
Then there’s the second love story.
Among Seifert’s feathered friends – “my little flock”, she calls the group – there is Cockatoo called Madgen, which, bless her heart, has a broken one, a wee avian soul that Seifert is hoping to repair.
“Madgen, which means ‘little girl in German,’ had a companion named Big Bird,” Seifert explained.
“They were together for at least five or six years. Cockatoos want company; they
are social beings ... They are very needy emotionally. They need to be handled. Talked to. Included in conversations ... We were clipping (the birds’) nails just last month when Big Bird had a heart attack. She died in my sister Barbara’s arms.”
So Seifert’s aviary is minus one Cockatoo and Madgen is without her buddy, Big Bird.
Seifert said Madgen has been “very depressed.”
I asked her what a “very depressed” Cockatoo does.
Just like human beings, not much.
Seifert said Madgen sits on a branch, rotates her wings forward, and hangs her head. She’s also not eating like she should.
“So I’m looking for a male or a female to put with Madgen so she’ll have a buddy again. Cockatoos take comfort in each other.”
And so, dear reader, if you know of a Cockatoo that could use a good home, by all means, email Seifert at email@example.com.
Madgen, I’m sure, would be most appreciative.
Salley McAden McInerney is a local writer whose novel, Journey Proud, is based upon growing up in Columbia in the early 1960s. Ms. McInerney may be reached by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.