At age 89, this bird has led a long, active life - myfoxcarolinas.com

At age 89, this bird has led a long, active life

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WEEKI WACHEE (FOX 13) - Calvin Coolidge was president, flappers were shocking folks with their short dresses doing the Charleston, and former first lady Barbara Bush was born.

And so was Duster, the Umbrella-Crested Cockatoo! The year was 1925.

Today, Duster is living the retired life, but decades ago he was quite the performer, right here in Tampa Bay.

Jennie Parry of Florida Parrot Rescue says from what they know, Duster was wild caught in Australia (which is no longer legal), trained in California, and ended up here in Florida.

"One morning, I said, 'good morning,’ waved and Duster waved back at me," she recalls.

Ruby Turner and Dana Proeger say they know that wave. Back in the 1970s they worked with all the birds at what is now Weeki Wachee State Park.

They say Duster was the star of the exotic bird show.

"He rode the bicycle and the roller skates every show,” Proeger says. “We would hold him and we'd say 'get ready, set, go!' and we'd let go of the bike and he'd pedal as fast as he could to the other side."

Turner remembers him as enjoying the limelight.

"He was a really good performer. He really enjoyed getting up there and doing his thing," she says.

Proeger was so fond of Duster, he was her "bird of honor" at her wedding in 1982. She also remembers how mischievous he was.

"One time, he got out of his cage and crawled along the wire and unlocked all the cages, and let all the birds out," she said.

Apparently Duster still enjoys doing that, all these years later.

"He has let my birds out of the cage. He likes to visit with my young ladies and they all have a party," Jennie Parry says.

As fun and charming as birds like Duster are, Parry also cautions that they have powerful beaks and can be loud and destructive.

"They're great birds right up until they destroy your furniture, your walls. A bird this size has a habit of peeling paint off the walls, can go through drywall," Parry said.

They're also a long term responsibility. Duster is living proof.

Proeger is relieved to know that he's in good hands.

"I've known him since 1976, so it was good to know someone's out there taking care of him."

Jennie Parry has adopted Duster, but says Florida Parrot Rescue desperately needs more foster homes for their rescued birds.

Here's their website for more information: http://floridaparrotrescue.com/

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