Sweetie's Story....

told by Roy Mackey

Blue and gold macaw, flamingsteel.com, roy mackey, steel sculpture

Here is a recent shot of Sweetie in our studio.

     Here is the story or some of the stories behind "Sweetie" my 30 year traveling partner. Sweetie is a bit of a strange bird. She was born in the amazon in some hollowed out tree. She always felt trapped the whole time she was in that egg. She could not wait to get out. Needless to say was the first of that batch to "break out" Her parents knew from day one that she was different... the black bird of the family so to speak. It did not take her long to realize that spending her life time hanging around the jungle looking for food and trying to avoid predators was not her idea of a good time. She knew she had to do something and fast. Of course since Macaws are magic and control their own destiny she opted to head to the city and merge with the humans. Her hopes were to talk some sense into them hoping they would lighten up on the self destructive bent they seem to have. She quickly found out that humans are not that smart. Even though parrots can often learn a lot of human words humans have still not learned one parrot word... 

     Anyway after some trials, travel and tribulation time she ended up in a small Victoria BC pet shop. It was not going well for her there. She had nothing to chew on other than all the soft little pink sticks the smaller humans would put through the cage bars. Apparently a lot of those little humans made very loud screaming noises which she found very annoying. As it turned out the pet store was also getting a little annoyed with having to buy so many bandages for the shopping customers. Well just when it was looking hopeless for her I, along with my girlfriend at the time, walked into the store. Sweetie later told me that in desperation she planted hypnotic images in our apparently empty brains. Three months later they kicked in and we had to have "That" bird. The pet store more than assured us that they would keep "that" bird for us and would gladly take payments until we could get down there to pick her up. It was winter in the mountains and figured moving her up there would be better in the summer in case my old wreck broke down. 

     So later on that summer off we headed to pick her up.  It took her awhile to get us trained but eventually we caught on. After that I rarely needed bandages after our talks or close visits.

     Not long after getting her back I realized that she must some some pig genes in her system. As she could sure eat like one. Thus when I bought a second hand store I had I told Sweetie that her bird food was getting too expensive and that she would have to chip in on the bill so to speak. Thus I offered her a job as "Hat Check" person at the store. The picture below shows her hanging around waiting for the next customer with a hat...

blue and gold macaw, flamingsteel.com, roy mackey, steel sculpture

     Now hat check was not the only thing she did. Her other duties were snapping people out of their mental fog by doing extremely loud surprise screams. She would sit on her perch behind the till completely motionless like she was stuffed or something. Then just as the victim got near the till she would scream full throttle. You could easily hear those screams a few blocks away. After the victim let go of the ceiling and was back on the floor you could just watch the adrenaline flowing through their shaking body. Needless to say these surprise jolts were extremely effective. I also used her image in my marketing adds and road sign etc.

      Another thing I got her to do was to come to Calgary with me on my shopping sprees for new stock. I would hit garage sales to buy cool stuff for the store. When ever I pulled up to a sale I would skid a bit to make some noise. As I was doing that I would lean forward and Sweetie would jump off my shoulder onto the steering wheel. The skidding would attract the attention of other garage sailers at the sale. They would look over and see the bird. Before long they would be crowding around the van saying things like "Polly wanta cracker" and "Pretty bird"  etc. While they were  doing that I was going around scooping up all the deals and quickly moving on to the next sale. She was a great distraction that gave me the upper hand at most garage sales. She loved going to them and always hated it when I left her behind. The same with the store she would go crazy when I left her behind. As I drove out of the yard she would be in the window bobbing back and forth wondering what I was doing leaving her behind. Eventually I got smart and never looked over when I was driving by the window.

blue and gold macaw, flamingsteel.com, steel sculpture, roy mackey

     Here is a shot of her while we were out mountain climbing one day near Banff BC. She did a lot better than me which was made clear by the fact I was shooting up at her. She likes to get out but not too far for too long. At least most times anyway.

blue and gold macaw, flamingsteel.com, steel sculpture, roy mackey

     here was another one of her jobs... feather dusting inside the glass showcase. Saved me having to drag everything out of the case to dust it.

blue and gold macaw, flamingsteel.com, steel sculpture, roy mackey
blue and gold macaw, flamingsteel.com, steel sculpture, roy mackey

     Here is a couple of shots of her doing the dishes. She reached in a little too far and fell in. She rarely did that good of job on them anyway so I told her I would do the dishes after that.

51 harley and parrot, flamingsteel.com, steel sculpture, roy mackey

     You know I used to think that only humans got hooked on dumb things but apparently not the case. Sweetie absolutely loved riding on my 51 Harley I restored. I realized this when I had my 71 FLH. We were living in this little cabin out in the woods at the time. I was outside with the bike running there and I noticed that she was very jumping around like she wanted me to come and get her so I did. At first she was a little nervous being around it but it did not take long and she was hooked. I would take her on short rides across the field and back. Before long it got to the point that when ever I took her outside if the Harley was there she would go crazy trying to get me to take her over to it. If I just walked by she would bite me on the ear and then try to jump towards it. She got a little obsessive to say the least.

    This was up in skeeter country where I grew up. There the winters are long so I would have to park the bike for six months. In the spring I would fire it up and ride it up to the house. I would leave it running and then walk into the house. She would be frantically bobbing her head and trying jump in my direction to get on my shoulder like no tomorrow. Once there if I did not walk towards the bike she would nip my ear and then start jumping toward the bike. She remembered the bike no problem.

     If my friend ever rode up on his Harley she would do the same thing, go crazy unless I at least let her go perch on the handle bars. If my other friend rode up on his imported bike she would not look. She could care less. My guess is that she was brand loyal!  : ) 

     One time we were in the Van I had coming back from Cranbrook. It was a bit of a road trip which she also loved. Out in the middle nowhere I saw a Harley broke down on the side of the road... that's where Harley's always break down. Anyway I pulled over and up to the two bikes sitting there. When I got out "Tiny" saw my bird and told me I better watch it as the bike was apparently backfiring and "Hogs get loud when they bark..." I guess he had also stopped to help the poor hapless and stranded soul. I told him it wouldn't be no bother to her. Well sure enough the other guy kicked the bike over and it backfired like I have never heard in my life. Sweetie never even blinked an eyelid. After Tiny landed back on the ground he was shaking. I am pretty sure he crapped his pants on the way up. After all he quickly got nervous, started to smell funny and said he had to leave. It was one of those awkward moments to say the least. Sweetie just sat on the steering wheel grooming herself and waiting for me to get back in the van.

     Here is one of Sweetie's longer tail feathers. This one is 21.5" long. Feathers are an incredible invention. Both light and strong.

     ....... to be continued....