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Always Blue for Chicu
by Karen Dugan

ISBN: 978-0-940719-09-5
$16.95 trade cloth

April 2010

32 pages, 72 color illustrations
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A Word from Karen Dugan

Years ago, there was a parrot store in the next town over, run out of a house. There my lip was bitten in two by a parrot I took out of his cage after the storeowner said “Yeah, he’s OK.” As I stood at the counter with a paper towel pressed to my mouth she said “We won’t charge you for the bite.” annoyed, as if it had been my fault.

In a way, it had been my fault. Regardless how ignorant the storeowner was, I never once considered asking the parrot if he wanted to come out of his cage.

I wrote Always Blue for Chicu because of notions many still have about parrots, from the pirate’s shoulder pet, to the Polly-wants-a-cracker-ornament. My eyes and heart were opened further by the 17 years shared with an amazing lovebird named Boo and his 3 ounces of passions, demands and playfulness.

In the beginning of Chicu’s story I imagined what a fledgling first saw when he opened his eyes. In a dark tree cavity, the small circle of blue sky was just the beginning of Chicu’s great new world. “Blue” represents everything good to Chicu: freedom, joy, flight, family, LIFE. At the end of the story, Chicu teaches this word to his newly adopted granddaughter, just as his own flock had taught him.

I hoped to find a parrot “marked” with the color of the sky, and was happy to find the blue-fronted amazon as my Chicu. Research came through books, articles, stories from “parrot parents”, speaking with dedicated experts who cared for parrots and protected their habitats, and visiting a parrot sanctuary in Rhode Island.  Chicu’s story was woven with fact to help show what a parrot really is as opposed to what we think a parrot is supposed to be.

The Foster Parrots sanctuary in Rhode Island was NOISY. Parrots communicate over wide expanses of jungles, so new parrot owners often do not understand a parrot MUST speak its mind, often LOUDLY. Many of these sanctuary parrots were once someone’s pet. Some owners did not realize their parrots would live such a long time, need to chew, be so messy, and yes, bite.

To a parrot, a perfect day would be in the company of its flock, to enjoy, explore, argue, bathe, nap and play the day together, and not ignored in a little cage. A parrot’s feelings run very deeply and like it or not, they look at you as an equal, and will love, hate or dismiss you for personal reasons of their own.

People love parrots for so many reasons, but must not forget they are still wild, have many special needs, and really do belong to the sky. So it is important to support those who work hard to keep their habitats intact, and let those who understand parrots in captivity teach us how to keep our companions happy, healthy and content to be with us.

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