Rudy the parrot a lifelong friend
Monday, April 8, 2013 at 10:43
City Parrots in Ara chloropterus- Green-winged macaw, Fun

Joe Granauro, owner of Auto Repair of Willards, hands a wrench to Rudy, his green-winged macaw. Photo by Laura EmmonsWILLARDS — Turn on the radio and Rudy will dance, unabashedly, with bounce and nod, all colorful feathers and head bobs.

The green-winged macaw who lives at Auto Repair of Willards was showing off for guests as his owner, Joe Granauro, sat nearby, laughing at him.

“He loves to dance. I deejay, and we have music on here all the time,” he said, sitting in the room dubbed The Aviary, kept at 60 to 70 degrees for the bird’s tropical nature, with a roomy, spotless cage.

In one corner, there’s a vacuum cleaner. One day when he was alone and Granauro was working in the nearby shop, Rudy went to examine the vacuum, poked his beak here and there, and managed to turn it on.

Laughing, his owner came in and found him in the cage. The noise must have startled him, but not much else does.

“He’s not timid, and that makes him unique. He kind of yells when people come in because he wants attention. He says ‘hi’ to everybody. He’s a big ham. He’s always friendly,” his good-natured owner said, approaching him.

He jokingly reached for the bird, who squawked and spread his wings, playing in return.

“Can you sound like a dog? Huh? Can you?” Granauro said. Rudy barked a couple times.

Comical and loveable, the red-headed bird caught Granauro’s eye when he looked into a cage of parrots for sale and decided to take Rudy home.

“I like red,” he said, extending his arm. The bird inched his way from Granauro’s arm up to his shoulder, where he is content to ride.

Although he isn’t certain how old Rudy is, he knows the bird is in his 30s and has the mentality of a 3- or 4-year-old.

“Can you count?” Granauro asked, touching his teeth together four times. The bird cocked its head, listening, then made six distinct clicking noises. “Well, that’s six,” Granauro said, laughing, “But OK.”

The breed isn’t known for having a large vocabulary, but Rudy and Granauro have a communication that transcends words, an easiness and obvious affection. They have been buddies since 1980.

When Granauro first got Rudy, the bird was smaller and wild. Rudy would pinch and bite when Granauro tried to hold him. Now, they have come to understand each other.

Rudy goes into the shop where vehicles are repaired, sits on the shining counter and sometimes hands tools to a mechanic.

 “Hey, buddy, hold that for me?” Granauro asked. Rudy looked at the wrench, took it in his strong, hooked beak, then dropped it, choosing instead to rock from foot to foot. “Hello. Hello, Hello,” he called. 

 Granauro said the birds can live 75 years.

“He might outlive me, in which case my daughter is going to take him. He’s my door chime when somebody comes in. He lets me know,” Granauro said.

Rudy’s eyes are almost white, and he has red designs on his face and brilliant green and blue on his wings and back. He likes to eat seeds, oranges and bananas, and crunch on uncooked macaroni.

Granauro headed for the waiting room at the shop and Rudy followed, walking on the rug with a decided waddle. Green-winged macaws’ feet are zygodactylous, meaning two toes point forward and two toes point backward.

The telephone rang and the macaw stopped, leaned to the floor with one ear on the ground and listened. “Hello? Hello?” he said.

At bedtime, Rudy sleeps standing on one leg, with the feathers of a wing pulled in front of him.

“He just picked up saying hello but he doesn’t really call me anything. Back home he would hear my wife saying, ‘Joe?’ and he would say ‘Joe, Joe,’ but here, no, he doesn’t have a name for me,” he said.

Granauro rubbed Rudy’s head, then his ear, as the bird held perfectly still and opened his mouth wide, as if he were trying to yawn. “That’s his sweet spot,” he said, watching him.

“He turned into a lifelong friend. It’s the companionship, the lifelong companionship that you get. Somebody is always there for you,” he said.

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