Birds of the Month, December 2004
By Eleanor McCaffrey Copyright Notice: No portion of this text or photos
may be, copied, printed or reproduced without
permission from site owner.

Over the past 3 years, I have had the pleasure of meeting people from all over the world through Cockatiel Cottage and Birds of the Month. A friend in Taiwan emailed me and told me about a website featuring a bird whose life had been very sad. I visited the site and could not help but feel an overwhelming sense of compassion for the macaw and a  great admiration for the person who had created this beautiful site. After emailing the Web Mistress, I had the pleasure of meeting Mariko (via email), who lives in Japan. This wonderful lady dedicates much of her time helping to improve the quality of life for a bird named Hama-chan. Each year during the holiday season, I try to do something different with Birds of the Month. Because of the glorious spirit that Hama-chan has maintained despite his living conditions and Mariko's love and devotion to this magnificent macaw, Cockatiel Cottage is very proud to dedicate the entire month of December to Hama-chan . Hama-Chan, a Blue and Gold Macaw, has lived his entire life of 26 years in a small cage at a pet shop in Japan. He had never been taken out of his cage until Mariko saw him. She knew that birds have feelings and needs just like humans do. Mariko, who is a true inspiration, has done so much for him and has changed the life of this beautiful bird. She has made the pet shop as well as the entire world aware of the life Hama-chan was living.

Mariko met Hama-chan when she purchased Dolly, a Hahn's Macaw, for herself at the pet shop. She wanted to buy Hama-chan as well because she knew that his physical, psychological and intellectual needs were not being met but the store would not sell him to her. They said he had spent his entire life living inside of a cage and that he would not be able to adjust to living with a family. The former manager of the store did not think that macaws could ever be pet birds. He thought that Mariko was crazy because she talked to Hama-chan so lovingly. Mariko visited Hama-chan everyday with Marine, her own Blue and Gold Macaw. She taught the store personnel how to handle a macaw. Mariko persistently urged them to take Hama-chan out of his cage. One day a store assistant opened the cage door to offer Hama-chan a piece of sweet potato instead of giving it to him through the cage bars. Mariko talked to Hama-chan for several minutes. The assistant was kind enough to leave the door open. Within 10 minutes Marikio had Hama-chan on her arm. He didn't know how to perch on a human's arm and as you can see in this picture, he was  grasping onto it tightly. Hama-chan never tried to bite. For the first time, the people in the store saw what a gentle and cuddly bird Hama-chan was.

Mariko continued to visit Hama-chan daily, bringing him fresh vegetables, talking to him and taking him out of the cage when the store brought his cage inside after closing time. The store personnel were very impressed at how much Hama-Chan understood things and how he reacted with delight to different situations.  Eventually Mariko was allowed to take Hama-Chan on outings with her own macaw, Marine. They went on picnics and other places such as the park and a visit to a florist. Hama-Chan was  introduced  to a new and exciting world that had been unknown to him for so many years. Although the store personnel are now more aware of Hama-chan's needs, Mariko must keep a close watch on him or they won't take him out of the cage. Mariko considers it animal abuse to keep a macaw locked up in a cage for its entire life. I think those who love and appreciate  birds for the unconditional love they give us would agree."

Mariko put up a website about Hama-chan a few years ago. She told his story and updates  the site frequently with the progress that Hama-chan is making. She also displays photographs of all of the new experiences in Hama-chan's life. Because of her site, Hama-chan has received world wide attention. People from all over the world visit the site, sign his Supporter's Page, and send Hama-chan gifts and cards.  The pet shop has been so impressed by the outpouring of love and concern for his well being that they are slowly starting to improve his quality of life. Mariko said, "The store didn't mean to neglect him,  They just didn't know how to handle a large macaw. They  were afraid of him. Hama-chan was weighed for the first time in his life! He weighs 1200 grams which is the  ideal weight for a Blue and Gold macaw.

Since Hama-chan has been getting so much attention during the past few years, his situation in life has changed a great deal. The store was very impressed to know that Hama-chan is  a famous macaw throughout the world. It is not common for most Japanese people to have friends overseas. As a result the pet shop started to treat him better. They are proud to have him there and think he is cool.  He did get a new cage and he is sometimes allowed to come out. He still can't do "Step Up", so it is hard to take him out of his cage. We are trying to teach him "Step Up" but he is scared and screams as if he were being killed !! I am sure he will be able to do it in the future. Hama-chan won't come out of the cage by himself until he thinks it's OK and safe. The last time we took him on a picnic, we opened his cage door and waited for half an hour.  He just sat on his perch and never came out. He lived in his cage for so long that he doesn't even know he can come out. It is very sad but at least we think it's good that he doesn't feel as much stress being in his cage now. That's why he has never plucked a single feather."

This is one of the many pictures that Mariko sent to me after Hama-chan saw all of the early holiday presents that Cockatiel Cottage sent to him. We had a great deal of fun, choosing a large assortment of parrot toys and treats to send to him. Mariko opened the box and unwrapped all of the red and green tissue wrapped packages in front of his cage. She hung all of the toys on the outside of his cage for him to see. There were so many of them, you couldn't see Hama-chan!  He noticed the packages of Avi Cakes and seemed to know that they were treats right away. He was trying to get to them through the cage bars!  Mariko said this is the first time Hama-chan has ever flapped his wings while out of the cage, perched on a person's arm. Mariko said, " I have never seen Hama-chan acting so happily as yesterday. Hama-chan was expressing his happiness with all his tiny body. He kept flapping his wings again and again.  He really understood that the presents were for him! Hama-chan never had a birthday party. Today he celebrated all of his birthdays for the past 26 years."  I want to thank Mariko for accepting these gifts with such graciousness and gratitude. All she wanted was a picture of Mama Bird.  We asked her to select as many gifts as she wanted from the Drs. Foster Smith website, but she only choose 1 little toy. So we chose them for her. Now I am greatly honored to have adopted Hama-chan as my first grandchild! I will continue sending gifts to him like any good grandmother would.  It was heartwarming for me to do something that made this gentle bird so very happy.  

Even after Mariko has done so much for Hama-chan, the store still will not sell him to her. They feel that there are many more macaws in the country that are much worse off than Hama-chan. This doesn't seem fair to either Hama-chan or Mariko. The 2 of them belong together and should be together. Mariko is the only birdie mommy that Hama-chan has ever had or known. I want to thank Mariko for all of the photographs she has sent to me and for allowing me to use information from her site to create this page. This wonderful lady is an inspiration to me. Mariko is now a constant reminder that there are good people in the world who care enough about neglected and abused animals to take action and do something to help better their situation in life. I hope her story inspires you as well. If you know of a bird that is being abused or neglected by a family, pet shop or breeder, please do something about it. Report it to your local animal welfare agencies, avian veterinarians and your local police department. In the USA there are some laws that protect animals from being mistreated. Pleaes visit Hama-chan's website by clicking on the link below. While visiting, please sign his Supporter's Page. You can write a personal message to him and upload a picture of your bird using a form Mariko has. Thank you so much Mariko for letting Cockatiel Cottage have the great honor of featuring Hama-chan in Birds of the Month! Visitors, please don't miss page 2 to see Mariko and read more about Hama-chan, including updates.

There is 1 more page about Hama-chan.
CLICK HERE for Hama-chan Page 2

CLICK HERE to visit Hama-chan's Website
Please sign his Supporter's Page

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