For some time now, we've been concerned because Younger Daughter's Quaker parrot, Lihn, had an overgrown beak.
So today Older Daughter and I packed Lihn into her small traveling cage and took off for a bird specialist in Spokane.
A group of young people -- honestly, none of them looked older than 25 -- operate a sort of parrot clinic on Saturdays in Spokane. These folks had been trained by the regional parrot expert, Sparky (of Sparky's Bird Store, an amazing establishment) and had taken over all of the beak trimming the store used to offer.
This private home was something of a miniature Sparky's, absolutely dripping with gigantic macaws and a selection of smaller parrots (an African Gray and assorted others I couldn't identify). The noise -- remember, we're talking macaws -- was incredible. Lihn, unused to such cacophony, froze in alarm.
Once inside, I was suddenly dive-bombed by an unknown bird which landed on my back. The employees (three women, one man) all burst out laughing, plucked the culprit off my back, and put it up on a door, where it observed the proceedings from on high. (You'll notice the top of the door looks well chewed.)
Well let me tell you, these folks knew what they were doing. One woman took Lihn out of her cage and started rolling her pin feathers free, something Lihn would only let Younger Daughter do. They were fearless and confident in how they handled her. Lihn was like butter in their hands, sweet and docile. (Or maybe scared to death. Either way, she behaved herself.)
They asked if we wanted her wings clipped, but I said no. We let Lihn out of her cage in the evenings (when Mr. Darcy is in another room), and she likes to fly around. Clipping her wings would deprive her of that exercise.
Two of the young women wrapped Lihn in a blue cloth, then started in on her nails, which weren't bad but could always use a bit of trimming. Literally a parrot pedicure, since after trimming they buffed the nails.
Then they moved to Lihn's beak.
Using a Dremmel with a soft buffing tip, they ground away at her beak, reshaping it. Frankly if I was in Lihn's shoes, I'd have been terrified. But she was calm and quiet throughout. Doubtless the blue towel helped.
The women took their time and did an excellent job.
While this was going on, Older Daughter made a friend. And I mean this bird wouldn't let her go.
We could do anything to this magnificent bird -- move her from arm to hand to shoulder, scratch her on the head, neck, or chest, or anything else. She was a beautiful creature.
But another macaw in the room was less friendly, and we were warned to stay well away from him. This other bird emitted ear-piercing shrieks so frequently that sometimes we had to shout to be heard. (I think this, more than anything else, is what freaked Lihn out.)
We got a brief tour and history of the birds in the room. Most were rescues, either from abusive and/or neglectful situations, or from people who reluctantly gave them up for housing reasons (macaws are often unwelcome in apartments because of the disturbance to other residents). All were lovingly cared for by this remarkable group of dedicated young people.
But the noise level was incredible. Coming from such a quiet home, Lihn looked frozen. When we bundled her up with a blanket around her cage and returned to the car, she looked positively shell-shocked. It took her quite a long time to relax, and then she slept a lot on the way home, doubtless exhausted.
Still, she looks so much better with that beak trimmed!
And methinks she's glad to be back in her home cage.