It was nearly 10 years ago that I walked into a friend's bird shop and viewed my first Yellowcrowned Amazon Parrot. She was sitting placidly in a stainless pedestal cage in the cornerconsigned by some folks leaving town, I learned, for $400 with stand.

"Some people call this a single yellowhead," the owner explained. "It is not banded, so we don't know the origin. It doesn't do much, makes no noise at all."

Already possessed with a Redlored and Blue-fronted Amazon, I had more than enough noise so I opened the cage door, stuck out my finger and said "up." The bird calmly stepped on my hand and began to preen. She was immaculate! As quiet demeanor and pristine grooming can be an early indication of females in Amazon genera, I sensed I had found a hen, and bought her on the spot.

"Tai," named after the Chinese hexagram for "peaceful," was to become one of my most beloved pets. She was so well behaved, I began taking her everywhere. The further we went afield, the more attentive and quick-to-learn Tai became. I have always allowed my pet birds "tree time" out in the back yard; this Amazon proved so careful, observant and intelligent that we soon developed a routine whereby she would spend hours outside in her favorite mulberry tree. She would chew and destroy very little and make nary a peep to attract attention, so I began hanging her food dish up in the tree. Every evening at 10:00


Tai would be found on her favorite branch snoozing-then would be taken inside for the night.

It became perfectly natural to leave Tai up in her tree and go about my daily errands-returning late to find her in her favorite "afternoon spot." Today I shake my head at the amount of trust and freedom I gave this parrot and I would not advise pet owners to attempt the same things with their birds!

But Tai was special and she proved it.

One afternoon I came home and Tai was nowhere to be found. The "weeoop" squeak I use to mimic and call her finally brought a reply from the front courtyard of the neighbor's adobe; she had crawled over the wall and was entertaining the children by accepting treats from mom!

A key aspect of allowing liberty to Amazons-no matter how predictable they seem-is to be aware when their territory begins to expand. This episode did precisely that. The remainder of our second summer was spent watching her wander the neighbor's rooftop where she would sit and watch all the activity on the main street. I did not feel comfortable with this development, so I would climb the roof and bring her back to her yard. At the same time her wings were growing out and she began actively exploring dark shady corners, eyes blazing and tail flared. Drainpipes and downspouts were her favorites!

About this time Tai confirmed herself female by snuggling under morning bed covers, raising her tail feathers from a squat position and making begging squeals to be petted "down under." Such stroking was unsatisfying to us both as it only served to frustrate her more.

One morning I went out to check her (every 20 minutes or so if I am home and a trusted pet is outside) and found she had traversed the power line from the house to the electric pole, then sidestepped down two more poles where she was perched half a block away screeching like she owned the world. Needless to say, we live in hawk country. Losing


patience I shouted, "Tai birdie, you come down here;" then grabbed her most unfavorite object, the garden rake, rushed over and banged on "her pole." She took off and flap/plummeted back towards her own yard where I retrieved her.

A few weeks later, Tai would not come down for the night; so I made the mistake of getting the extension ladder to go up her tree and coax her down. She took one look at that ladder and took off across the boulevard into a 60-foot elm. Oops!

All I could do was leave her there for the night, turning on all my porch lights and putting her cage on the patio. I went outside every hour, shined a flashlight and whooped to her to help her recall where she was and where home was. Hearing screeches at daybreak, I went to the tree with a favorite jar of walnuts and coaxed her down the trunk to my hand.

But enough was enough. If things kept on this way, I would eventually lose her in the city.

I approached Dale Thompson about pairing Tai with a second generation handfed Yellowcrowned male who had been his pet and was waiting to be mated. Thompson placed the two birds in separate cages side by side and left them to begin their bonding process. Two months later they were given a single wire wall between them so they could touch but not harm one another. Two months later (in the off-breeding season) after they had been sleeping side by side on either side of the wire, they were introduced into a neutral cage.