Flock together

Photography by Samantha Shal

By Meredith Pruden

For one Woodstock father, a chatty flying fowl has been a devoted lifelong companion. When Brian Gilmore was a mere 10 years old, his mother brought home a new family friend— a red-lored Amazon parrot named Paco.

“A parrot usually takes to one person in the house,” Gilmore said. “When I was little I gave her a lot of attention and she clung to me. She stayed with my mom when I grew up, but when my mom passed I took the parrot, so here I am a 40-year-old married man with a kid and a parrot.”

Today, Gilmore and his family (wife Nena and three-year-old son Tucker) have a largely cage-free feathery friend who gets the same loving treatment as the family dog.

“A parrot isn’t an impulse buy,” Gilmore said. “It’s a lot of responsibility and they need a lot of attention. They’re pretty fragile of the mind, but if you want a companion for the next 70 years, it’s a pretty cool buddy to have.”

According to Gilmore, parrots, once tamed, are loyal compatriots who don’t like to be yelled at and can become withdrawn and despondent if left alone or removed from familiar surroundings and people.

“When I went off to college my mom thought Paco was sick and took her to the vet,” he said. “They kept her in an incubator, and I went to check her out and she perked right up. She was lonely and sad that I’d disappeared. They’ll pick out the feathers on their chest for attention. It’s a cry for help.”

Loving, loyal and talkative, whoever said parrots don’t make great pets never met Paco!

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