Not all Long Beach birds are airborne. Harley, a harlequin macaw parrot, is loveborne.
Harley and his wingman, Mike Lee, come to the boardwalk often, weather permitting.
Heat is a threat. In the wild, the jungle canopy cools parrots. Mike keeps Harley from the heat, so fall is perfect for the lead pilot and his wingman.
At our boardwalk’s west end, Harley attracts Joggers, walkers, and bikers who rest with a “Hello,” stop-and-chat for Harley…Mike too.
When Mike goes left…his wingman goes left:
Mike enjoys his paper and scratching Harley’s back.
Harley likes to work out…
…sometimes hinting that others should move on:
Nineteen years ago Mike took his Godson to Parrots of the World pet store, Rockville Centre, NY, to see the birds. Staff put two-month-old, Harley in the crook of his arm, and love happened. Harley adopted Mike.
Mike lives alone in a house where Harley enjoys a private alcove. “He has more freedom than in a cage,” Mike says.
Harley eats nuts, fruit, and veggies; vet visits are only for checkups.
Mike doesn’t belong to a parrot club, but club members are amazed at Harley’s feathers, “Oh my God, what do you feed him?” they say. Mike says if parrots are happy, eat well, and get regular moisture from showers, their feathers show it. Harley gets it all.
And his feathers show it.
Macaw parrots can live to seventy, and they are as smart as human three-year-olds. So Harley should be toddling around with Mike about forty-five more years.
Mike gave some of Harley’s feathers to an Indian tribe in New Mexico. They adorned five-year-old’s headdresses in a tribal ceremony; the tribe loved the radiant colors.
Harley is usually quiet, but in the jungle, parrot screams can carry for a mile. One day on the boardwalk, when a beach volleyball game was in play, Harley screamed. Players froze.
Mike says some people tell him that birds need to be free.
But Mike knows wild parrots live half as long as domesticated parrots due to disease and predators, so he sees their friendship as a mutually good deal for the team.
When I’m on our Long Beach shore, I lift off. I glide with oystercatchers.
It’s the wild, it’s freedom, I’m with it. And I’m lovin’ it.
But this planet’s creatures thrive in companionship and love. Humans keep dogs and cats; should they be left to the wild? To disease? To predation?
Some pets have paws, some pets have talons, but the love, the unconditional love, is the same. And in the often stormy sea of life, a pet is a port.
Harley and Mike, synergy. Mike keeps Harley safe and healthy; Harley keeps Mike happy.
And in this troubled world…that’s perfect.