If you’ve ever visited the S.C. Coastal Animal Rescue and Educational Sanctuary (SC-CARES), I’m sure you have met Millie. Our guests on tours and especially our volunteers bond with this sweet bird immediately.
Millie is a Moluccan cockatoo and should be found in the wild in Indonesia. As of 1989, the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species, or CITES, made it illegal to trap these parrots. Their numbers are still very low due to the 6,000 of them each year that were trapped prior to 1989. Now habitat loss plays a role as well, so much so that they’re listed as “vulnerable” on the conservation chart.
The Moluccans are one of the largest parrots in the cockatoo family, measuring 14 to 16 inches tall from their feet to the top of the head. Our Millie is a gentle giant, though, and whispers sweet nothings to anyone who will listen. Millie also loves to entertain by telling stories and singing. At times, we can understand what she’s saying, and other times, well, let’s just call her words bird talk. Either way, you can feel the sweet energy she’s putting out, and she loves the attention it brings.
Millie isn’t fond of being held but LOVES people to stand by her house so she can carry on a conversation that she truly believes is very important. She has the sweetest, softest voice most times but has, when scared or startled, shown us just how loud the Moluccans can be. These parrots have the ability to sound out at 135 decibels; a 747 jet clocks in at 140 decibels, and 105 decibels is considered damaging to the ear. Thankfully, Millie doesn’t get too upset very often, so we’re spared.
As you can see in her picture, Millie has an underbite, which is a birth defect of some sort. It doesn’t prevent her from eating but doesn’t give her the best ability to preen her feathers, which is why she looks a little messy at times. Her beak must be kept trimmed, and she is so wonderful to allow me to trim her bottom beak, like trimming fingernails, but her top beak must be trimmed by the vet while she’s under sedation.
Millie came to SC-CARES in 2008, with this being at least her third home. She’s now 15 years old and has a lifespan of 60 to 80 years. It’s our dream that SC-CARES continues to flourish so that birds like Millie who live here will continue receiving the love and care they so deserve.
Cindy Hedrick and Skip Yeager are the founders and operators of SC-CARES in Georgetown.