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article imagePhoto Essay: Birds I have Loved Special

By Lonna Lisa Williams     Dec 31, 2012 in Travel
I love birds. In California, I cherished my parrot Penny. In New Zealand, I hand-fed keas, the only alpine parrots in the world. In Russia, I saw pigeons by a frozen river. In Turkey, I found seagulls and native chickens. Enjoy my winged collection.
Birds weave into the story of my own life. Once I lived in the California mountains, in a forest chateau. I was a wealthy housewife who homeschooled my two children. For my daughter Jessica's tenth birthday, I bought a baby Senegal parrot in brilliant shades of green and yellow. She named him Penny, but instead of being her bird, he adopted me and called me, "Mommy." I didn't like to keep him in his cage, and I never clipped his wings. He would fly about the house and take baths in a blue cup on the kitchen counter. He would bite me if I didn't share my cell phone with him, and he'd scream if he saw me heading toward the door.
"Mommy, come here right now!" he would clearly say.
But I could not stay with Penny. My marriage ended, and I took my children to New Zealand, where we lived for awhile. In New Zealand, we discovered amazing birds such as the waxeye which hang around sheep farms, the fantails and pukake who live in the forest, the harrier hawks that patrol the roads, paradise ducks of Mount Cook, and the snowy egrets which can be seen in the waterways of Milford Sound.
Our favorite was the kea, a large, olive-green parrot that is the only alpine parrot in the world. Keas live high in the mountains where they like to dive-bomb skiers, chew the rubber off tourists' cars, and beg for food. Their cries of "keeaaa!" echo off the slopes of Mount Cook, above the shores of Lake Puakake. My daughter Jessica became the Kea Girl, hand-feeding the curious birds. She even adopted a whole flock who gathered around her in the mountain snow.
Jessica, Jonathan, and I had to leave New Zealand, the land of exotic birds. We flew back to California where I went through a bitter divorce. I lost everything: that three-storey mountain chateau in the forest, my collection of classic books, my tea sets, and even my children. My ex-husband hid them from me for two years, but I found them again through Facebook. We began chatting and posting photos. I shared the shots of my parrot Penny, whom I had rescued from my ex-husband. Penny lived with me in a hotel on the other side of the mountain. My parrot was all I had; he slept on my pillow. We evacuated from a mountain wildfire together. I took him for a walk in the forest, letting him perch on my shoulder. He startled and flew up into the tall pines. I spent hours searching for him and then heard him scream, followed by the call of a hawk.
Penny the parrot had been caught in a hawk's tallons. But the hawk did not expect to catch a parrot. With his strong hook beak, Penny bit the hawk's toe and flew away. The angry hawk flew after him, but smart Penny climbed far into a bush, and the disappointed predator sulked on a nearby post as I ran across a field to rescue Penny. Penny had a hole in his stomach and needed surgery, but he survived. You can read my story, "The Parrot and the Hawk" on my Blog or in my new book, "Fire and Ice."
Since I had been a housewife and a homeschool mom, I couldn't find a teaching job in California or anywhere in America, though I looked thoroughly. I had been trained as a professional English teacher and had taught college before I got married, so I went to Russia to teach at a private language school. While in Russia, I took photos of pigeons and crows by the frozen Volga River near Samara. I even caught a bird on the head of a Lenin Statue.
When my Russian boss refused to pay me, I flew to Turkey for a new teaching job. I've been teaching English in Turkey for almost two years now, in private language schools and universities. I even married a Turkish man and found a Turkish family. My husband and I have traveled from the north to the west to the south of Turkey, and I've been able to take photos of people and places along the way. Even a few birds have wandered in front of my cameras lens.
Much though I've loved my overseas adventures, I want to go back to California to see Jessica, her brother Jonathan, and my parrot Penny.
Lonna Lisa Williams
You can see more travel adventures on my Blog, Facebook, Youtube, and in my books.
Penny the parrot poses after surviving his encounter with the hawk
Penny the parrot poses after surviving his encounter with the hawk
Jessica holds Penny inside our California mountain chateau
Jessica holds Penny inside our California mountain chateau
Penny the Parrot takes a bath in his blue cup
Penny the Parrot takes a bath in his blue cup
The little waxeye bird which lives in the sheep farm territories of New Zealand
The little waxeye bird which lives in the sheep farm territories of New Zealand
A fantail  normally shy and whizzing along forest trails  got trapped in our New Zealand cottage
A fantail, normally shy and whizzing along forest trails, got trapped in our New Zealand cottage
The fantail perched on Jessica s finger
The fantail perched on Jessica's finger
A forest pukake
A forest pukake
A harrier hawk of New Zealand  similar to the California hawk that caught Penny
A harrier hawk of New Zealand, similar to the California hawk that caught Penny
A snowy egret in Milford Sound
A snowy egret in Milford Sound
The Milford Sound setting for the snowy egret.
The Milford Sound setting for the snowy egret.
Paradise Ducks live near the streams of Mount Cook
Paradise Ducks live near the streams of Mount Cook
Mount Cook valley in New Zealand
Mount Cook valley in New Zealand
A kea watches us from the ski hut roof
A kea watches us from the ski hut roof
A kea observes us from a rock
A kea observes us from a rock
The kea moves closer
The kea moves closer
Jessica hand-feeds the kea
Jessica hand-feeds the kea
The kea eats a hand-fed chip
The kea eats a hand-fed chip
Ummm  that is delicious!
Ummm, that is delicious!
Jessica  the Kea Girl of New Zealand
Jessica, the Kea Girl of New Zealand
Jessica s flock of keas
Jessica's flock of keas
A duck swims in the cold waters of the snowy Volga River in Samara  Russia
A duck swims in the cold waters of the snowy Volga River in Samara, Russia
A flock of pigeons on the river
A flock of pigeons on the river
A pigeon near the frozen river
A pigeon near the frozen river
A crow near the frozen river
A crow near the frozen river
A bird perches on the head of Lenin s statue
A bird perches on the head of Lenin's statue
Seagulls fly near my ferry  in front of Galata Tower in Istanbul
Seagulls fly near my ferry, in front of Galata Tower in Istanbul
Some big  native birds on the rocks of Castle Hill in Alanya
Some big, native birds on the rocks of Castle Hill in Alanya
A chicken posed for me at a hilltop cafe
A chicken posed for me at a hilltop cafe
Pigeons play near the Agean Sea in Izmir
Pigeons play near the Agean Sea in Izmir
An African Gray parrot I made friends with in a hotel in Izmir
An African Gray parrot I made friends with in a hotel in Izmir
Penny the parrot  posing
Penny the parrot, posing
More about Birds, parrots, kea, Hawk, Penny the Parrot
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