While Letts resident Mike Hutchison cherishes his role as a caretaker for more than 60 wild, exotic birds, he still wishes his job wasn't necessary.
"It's really, really a bad contradiction. The reality is that these birds are here; they are in captivity. Some want to be with people; some of them don't. None of them can be returned to the rainforest, they would die," Hutchison says. "They can't fly free. They can't eat natural foods. They can't find a mate and reproduce. They can't sleep in the jungle in the rain... I do the best I can, and I try to find people who can do the best they can with the birds, because they can't go home."
On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe visits the Iowa Parrot Rescue, which Hutchison founded about twenty years ago. They discuss what it takes to run a non-profit parrot rescue and the difficulties, as well as joys, of owning an exotic bird as a pet.
"The personality, the kind of connection they can make with you, the bond that a parrot can grow, it's different than what any other companion animal does," he says. "There's really a more intense personal connection that you can make with a parrot."
In an effort to enrich the lives of the birds staying at his rescue, Hutchison plays guitar for the birds daily. He says the cockatoos have the best rhythm and the macaws are big fans of the blues. In this IPR video, you can see Tegan the cockatoo dancing.
"He likes Jimmy Buffet, he likes reggae, he likes anything Caribbean, which is funny because they're not Caribbean birds," Hutchison says.