Laney’s First Birds, Luna and Sam - and a rising Sense of Purpose

In Laney's words: excerpt from her Keynote Address at American Federation of Aviculture, August 2016


A co-worker gave me my first parrot. Luna, a parent-reared Halfmoon Conure arrived June 29,1990. My friend had a pet bird for years. Her husband thought it needed a friend and bought a second one. What are the odds? Neither had been sexed, but they had chicks. My friend was not a breeder, and she let the parents raise them. She took them out of the nest sometimes and fed them bananas. As they were weaning, she simply wanted to place them in good homes. We agreed that this would be a good place for me to start learning about how to take care of parrots. That experience was a game changer for me. I adored that little bird.


One month later, I had a business appointment in an area of Houston I had no other reason to be in. Afterward, I went into a store called The Scarlet Macaw in the same strip center. I was perusing the books to see if they had any Conure books I didn’t have. Another customer approached me and asked if I might be interested in buying a Scarlet Macaw. She explained that her elderly neighbor was selling her house and birds. There was still one Scarlet, and it would probably be a good deal.


There was one catch. His custom-built cage had to stay with him. It was too tall for normal ceiling height. Just so happened that I had a room which was tall enough. We had added on a room to accommodate the 100-year-old church doors Jack had bought, and it was not finished on the inside. On August 1, 1990 “Sam” the Scarlet Macaw and his cage moved in to our home. So, another mysterious coincidence occurred to nudge me in this direction. I felt like I was meant to have Sam.


My big 4-0 birthday was just around the corner. I had spent 17 years in a successful newspaper advertising career, but knew I didn’t want to do that anymore. What really gave me a sense of purpose was my birds.


I joined the American Federation of Aviculture. The cover of the 1991 issue of Watchbird magazine got my attention. There was an article about Caninde Macaws (as Blue-throated Macaws were called then) and how little was known about them. It gave some information about their status in the wild and stated that they needed help in captivity.


I wanted to learn more, and a friend suggested that I volunteer at the Houston Zoo bird department. Late 1991, I made arrangements with the Bird Curator and started taking care of the Macaws every Sunday. Lo and behold, I saw my first Caninde Macaws. Both were young and had been raised by wild-caught pairs at different facilities.”