By Tammy Attama, Virginia

When our blue-and-gold macaw parrot, Harley, joined my family and became a fully participating member, I realized he was helping me gain greater spiritual understanding about myself. My love for him and gratitude for the joy he brought to my life continued to grow.

One thing I knew about Harley’s breed was that macaws live and hunt together in flocks but usually choose one mate for life. I started wondering if I was keeping Harley from living up to his fullest macaw potential. As we bonded more closely, I noticed him relating to me more as a mate than a caregiver or companion. I began to realize that it wasn’t fair for me to keep him solo. He needed a flock and a mate.

In the book Animals Are Souls Too! Harold Klemp writes, “Soul exists because God loves It. It’s very simple. And when two Souls set up a bond of love, it is stronger and more enduring than eternity.” Could my bond of love with Harley be enduring and strong enough for me to give this wonderful bird the freedom of becoming all he was meant to be?

Letting Go of Harley

My heart knew that Harley needed more than I could give him in our home, but my mind argued insistently against the thought of losing him. He would be happier with a mate, but we couldn’t afford a female macaw for him.

The expenses of caring for a parrot are high. Due to his past living conditions, Harley required much medical care. It could cost as much as $700 to walk into an avian veterinary’s office. Eventually I went through changes in my circumstances, including a major decrease in income. It became clear that I’d have to find the good new home for Harley that he deserved. But how would I know if I’d made the right choices?

Although many people offered to adopt Harley, a man whose nickname was Birdman stole our hearts. He had a flock of birds in his home for Harley to join, and Harley quickly made friends with him.

Birdman to the Rescue

I visited Birdman’s home three times after Harley moved there. The first time, Harley was happy to see me. Even though he seemed quite comfortable, he spent a few minutes gifting me with kisses before returning to his new family.

On my second visit, Harley introduced me to his new girlfriend, another beautiful, blue-and-gold macaw. She eyed me suspiciously until Harley gave his approval by briefly cuddling with me. Once again, he soon returned to his flock.

The last time I saw Harley, he reintroduced me to his mate and then completely ignored me. When I invited him to step up on my arm, he gave me a good nip and stared hard as if to say, “It’s time to let go now. I’m OK.” Harley had moved on, and I had to do the same. I knew that Harley was content. I had done the right thing for him.

Harley’s final spiritual gift was helping me learn about the blessings of detachment. Sometimes, love means knowing when to let go so another Soul can reach Its highest potential.

—Photo by Tammy Attama

Harley’s story is in three parts:

Part 1: “Harley, My Macaw Mirror” by Tammy Attama (posted August 21, 2018)

Part 2: “Harley and His Human Flock” by Tammy Attama (posted September 11, 2018)

Part 3: “Harley Finds a Macaw to Love” by Tammy Attama (posted January 29, 2019)