Here’s a little something about me: I love birds. I’ve loved them from an early age, and it’s all thanks to my childhood budgie, Blue. My parents got him from a breeder in PA when I was 5. He was an English budgie, which is the biggest variety of budgie, which are slightly larger than parakeets. Since I grew up with him, I learned how birds behave and how to behave around them. Blue became my buddy, for sure, and for 11 & 1/2 years, we were best buds.
After he passed, I made it my goal that, when I became an adult and was living on my own, I would get my own bird. In 2015, it finally happened. I was living in an apartment with my new roommate, a coworker I knew since 2012. I told her my goal and though she was nervous since she hadn’t been around birds before, she was open to the idea.
I started looking for budgie breeders, since that was what I knew, but unfortunately there were no breeders in my area. Unlike PA, Wisconsin didn’t have many bird breeders and even less had budgies for sale. I started resigning myself to pet shop birds, but I wasn’t keen on it just because with pet shop birds, you don’t know how they’ve been raised, whether they have standing health issues or otherwise.
I was still looking around when my roommate mentioned a recommendation from another coworker of ours. She told us of a place 1 & 1/2 hours from us that breeds parrots and lets you play with the babies. Roomie and I decided to go there on a lark one weekend in October to play with the birds. We arrived in the afternoon and excitedly went into the store.
The woman who greeted us asked us how we were, all that, and asked what we were there for. We said we wanted to look at the babies, so she brought us to the back and asked us to wash our hands. She apologized and said that they only had 2 baby Maxies for sale, about 2 months old. They had a baby blue and gold macaw that was claimed, a somewhat antisocial Amazon, and their store mascot, a scarlet macaw named Walter. I sat down and she pulled out a baby Maxi and set it on my hand. The baby was super cute but wasn’t that interested in either of us in the end. After sitting on my hand for about 5 minutes and then a super brief stint on a nervous Roomie’s hand, Baby went onto a stand perch and played with the toys. The favorite was a purple dice attached by a chain.
The woman was standing by and watching the exchange. When we learned of the baby macaw, she put the Maxi away and brought it out. The macaw sat on my forearm calmly, making little macaw chatter now and then. Roomie didn’t touch that one, she was too nervous at the time.
The woman brought the Maxi back out for a few and asked what we thought of it. She mentioned that of the 2 Maxies they currently had, the one she brought was the nicer one. The other Maxi apparently was more antisocial, aggressive and meaner overall, so she recommended the one we were playing with. I hadn’t planned on getting a parrot that size, let alone that day, but after some deliberation with the roomie, I decided to get the baby. The woman mentioned that Baby was still on formula and being weaned, so it would take a month or two to get it fully ready to take home. She recommended visiting as much as possible so that Baby would be acquainted with us beforehand and make the transition easier. When we left that day, I had put a reserve payment on the baby, ordered a blood test to find out the gender, and bought a cage for it.
We started thinking about names and wrote them on a dry erase board as we thought of them. Contenders, in order of thought, were: Echo, Ivy (f), Kiwi, Jade (f), Quill/Quinn (m), Clover, Pascal, and Flynn. The one that stuck out most to me was Echo, Roomie liked Pascal. Due to my connection with meteorology, I noticed a trend and put both names together: Echo Pascal. (In meteorology, a pascal and hecto-pascal are units of barometric pressure. One hecto-pascal is 100 pascal.)
The next time we went to visit was mid November. We drove the 1 & 1/2 hours again and told the woman there that we were visiting our baby. This new woman was a little hard-edged, it seemed to us. She pulled Baby out and left us alone with it, then heated some highly smelly food that permeated the store. We kept to ourselves and played with the baby, telling it Echo over and over to get it used to the name. Roomie held it again for a slightly longer time, and we got some nice pictures this time too. We played for about an hour until the woman basically kicked us out. She had to finish hand feeding the babies since they were still being weaned.
The next time we visited was December 6th. The woman from last time was still there but she was a little more personable this time. We told her we were visiting the baby and she pulled it out for us again. We snapped some more pictures, and Roomie held baby Echo again a little bit more. When we started to leave, the woman told us, “You know this one is good to go home, right?” We were stunned, we had no idea. No one called us about it or anything. Thankfully, I had borrowed a carrier from our coworker that had recommended the place, and I had it in the trunk. I grabbed it, we warmed it up, and the woman put Echo in it. I finished payment for Echo and picked up the food they weaned their birds on, Roudybush pellets. She told us to take Echo to a vet within the first week for an initial checkup to make sure everything was ok, kind of like a verification for me that the bird was healthy. With bird in tow, we drove home.
Since we still didn’t know the gender, we started defaulting to calling him “he,” just so he wasn’t an “it.” I called them a few days later and asked about the blood test for the gender but the woman who answered didn’t find any record of my ordering it. Since I hadn’t paid for it either apparently, they asked me to come in with him so they could do it. I decided to pass and looked into different options. (It wasn’t until May when we found out that he is in fact male.)
Echo went into the new cage fairly easily and for the first couple days, we left him inside to let him adjust to his surroundings. He was still getting used to the cage when we opened the door for the first time. It took him a couple tries of opening and closing the door before he figured out how to climb out and up. And that, friends, is history. ❤