Original Watercolor of  Dagmar  Dagmar by Joann


This is a tribute to my lifelong pal, Dagmar, a Yellownaped Parvipes Amazon Parrot who just died from cancer. Dagmar was 20 years old and had been with me for more than 18 years of his life. I will never forget my wonderful friend and pray that I will one day have him alight on my shoulder in heaven.

Looney Dag with my toothbrush.
I got Dag at the young age of 1½. He was talking already - something I had always wanted. The first time I heard a clear "Hello" from Dag, I was stunned - as were my son and his friend. This was years ago when not many birds were being domestically bred, so a nice tame talking bird was a rarity. We were amazed at the clarity of his voice. He spoke a little Spanish and called down to the kids who used to holler up to him in the window.
I should probably explain that Dagmar was thought to be a hen, but wound up, as I witnessed during surgical sexing, to be male. I didn't have the heart to change his name to Dagwood though.
Dag kinda had the run and rule of the house. When he was in full feather he would let out a whoop and fly from one end of the house to the other. He was very adept at flying around corners to get from one room to another. Dag's cage was always open when I was home. He fiercely protected me from intruders (like my poor petrified sister) and had immediate likes and dislikes for my friends and family.
Dad & Dag
Dad and Dag

When Dag was clipped, he went with me everywhere in all seasons. In the winter I would zip him up in my ski jacket and we'd go for a walk to the store or a jaunt in the car. He just loved getting on the steering wheel in the car spinning around as we turned corners. He terrorized the local supermarket who so kindly allowed him to come in with me. One time he flew after a girl in the produce aisle who not only dropped her head of lettuce, but her hat and keys, too, and ran screaming down the aisle with her hands waving in the air. I ran after Dagmar, grabbed him and ran out of there without shopping.

Another time in a crowded mall, Dagmar, who loved kids, flew to be with a toddler in a stroller. The terrified mother ran away and left her baby until I could recover Dag.

We would frequent a local pizza place because Dag loved pizza more than I. He would dive into my slices and not come up for air. He decided one time to fly over to the shoulder of a man who was standing at the counter with his back to us oblivious of the little green alien occupant in the booth behind him. Well, that poor fellow just almost convulsed as he felt this huge thing (bug?) alight upon him. It's a wonder that Dagmar never caused anything more than shock when we were out. The truckers just loved him when CB was strong. Drive-up fast food clerks would be amazed seeing Dag with me. He would also dive into tacos, hamburgers and most junk food.

Most incredible was this bird's empathy for me when I was sick. He would just sit on my shoulder for hours without pestering me to play with him.

Dag and Tara Dag was the most fearless bird I've ever known too. He used to love to chase the vacuum around as I tried to clean his messes. With seed to pick up, I used to mainly use just the hose with no sweeper head. One day, his head got sucked into the hose (a powerful Electrolux). I had to quickly shut it off. Didn't phase him in the least. He continued to chase the vacuum hose around. During my residency in an apartment house, Dag and I were downstairs in the laundry room when this alley cat with no tail came in and scared Dag. He flew off my shoulder into the foyer. I had visions of feathers all over the place, but when I got there, the cat was backing up and Dag had his beak wide open ready to strike. Wow! Same thing happened with my parents' airedale, a breed known for birding. When I got to them, Tara, the airedale was just sniffing at Dagmar and Dag had that familiar pose with beak open. After that, they became best of friends and used to share the same chair together. Dag even bit the dog's leg once, but Tara didn't do a thing in retaliation. I often wonder what other animals think when they hear a bird talk for the first time - maybe, "Honey, I shrunk the human?".
Amazons are not the most affectionate birds, but Dag would love to be cuddled at night. It was a really precious time together.

These are just a few of the endearing(?) stories and memories I have of Dagmar. His beautiful knowing eyes and expressive moods are images I will never forget.

IN MEMORY OF "DAGMAR", I AM CONDUCTING RESEARCH INTO AVIAN CANCER BY SURVEY. If you have had a bird die of cancer, please help us by filling it out. You might also want to bring it to your vet for him/her to use for each avian cancer victim. CLICK HERE to view form.

- Background Music is "With a Little Luck" by the Beatles - one of Dagmar's favorite tunes -