When I walked into the unique gift shop, I had no idea what a priceless treasure awaited me.
Meandering through the aisles, I heard soft talking that sounded like a parrot. I was drawn to the voice and spotted a green-headed bird sitting on a tree-like stand, behind the cashier counter.
The co-owner of the shop, Beverly, greeted me with a hello and a fetching smile. I asked her about her chatty friend. She took the parrot off the perch and placed it on her shoulder, introducing me to Paco. I noticed Paco was bald from the neck down.
Beverly told me she took the green-headed bird in when its owner died. Due to benign neglect, trauma and anxiety, Paco lost and/or pulled out all of his feathers, except for his head.
My tears were below the surface, as a thought raced through my mind … How can humans believe that animals and birds don’t have emotions?
In the beginning Paco bit Beverly on more than one occasion. In spite of the serious bites, she felt he was worth saving. Beverly didn’t verbally react to the assaults, instead bit her own tongue, so she wouldn’t say mean things to Paco. Beverly continued to work with the bird with patience and kindness until, one day, Paco didn’t bite her anymore.
Everyone thought Paco was a boy until he became very ill, and ended up having surgery. That is when Beverly and her family found out he … was actually a she. They added Bell to her name.
Beverly and her family bought Paco Bell a bigger cage, created a variety of perches, and added new toys. They took her out every day so she could walk around the house for exercise.
Beverly also carried her outside to sit in a Magnolia tree. If Beverly tried to bring her in before she was ready, Paco Bell would gently touch Beverly’s finger with her beak, as if to say, “I am not ready to come in just yet.”
As I listened to the story, my thoughts raced - Was this bird captured in the wild, or did she come from a bird mill? Either way, the cruelty of man ... The kindness of man, woman in this case, who was willing to see deeper into Paco Bell’s soul and give her a new life. Thank goodness for people like Beverly. I silently thanked all the humans who show kindness to animals.
I said to Beverly, “How wonderful you saved Paco Bell.”
With teary eyes she said, “I don’t know who saved who.”
As she set her friend back on her perch, Beverly pointed to a tiny tail feather that was beginning to grow.
I thought of a line from a poem by Emily Dickenson, “Hope is the thing with feathers - that perches in the soul.”