“I am 100 percent bird crazy,” admits Wendy Bausch. “Actually, I call myself Fennimore’s crazy bird lady.”
Wendy Bausch may refer to herself as “Fennimore’s crazy bird lady,” but if you spend time with her, you’ll realize she’s not crazy at all.
She simply loves her birds.
“When I was 12 my mom got me my first parakeet,” Bausch recalls. “My attention was always birds, I just love animals.”
Bausch’s Fennimore apartment is home to three macaws (Bishop, Chimmie and Echo) and one cockatoo (Romeo). All four birds were adopted from Parrot Valley Rescue in Coon Valley.
“I will never, ever buy or breed, I will always adopt,” Bausch said. “There are so many birds in need.”
Bishop, a rare military macaw, has come a long way since he and Bausch met at Parrot Valley Rescue nearly a year ago, where she volunteered her time.
“He was the meanest, most rotten bird I had ever dealt with; I couldn’t feed him without him coming after me,” Bausch said. “One day the director asked me if I wanted to foster a macaw, so I brought Bishop home to get him trained a little bit and socialize.
“He never left. It was like he picked me. He has come a long way, he really has.”
Forty-eight-year-old Chimmie, a red macaw, joined Bausch’s family last November.
“She was the reason I went to the rescue and I knew once I got her she wasn’t going back,” Bausch said. “This is where she will be until she passes or I pass.
“Macaws have always intrigued me. I always told myself when I was younger that one day I would have a macaw.”
Twelve-year-old Echo is a blue and gold macaw with a 100-word vocabulary. She was the first bird Bausch adopted from Parrot Valley Rescue a year-and-a-half ago.
“When I first got her she was afraid of everything, but in the last few months she has come around,” Bausch said. “When I first got her she would run from me and now she started running to me.
“I waited a long time for that.”
Forty-two-year-old Romeo, an umbrella cockatoo, is “an exception to the cockatoo rule.”
“He hardly makes any noise and a cockatoo is one of the loudest birds you’ll ever hear,” Bausch said. “The only time he makes noise is in the morning and at night.
“Usually cockatoos will scream for attention but he doesn’t, he can amuse himself quite well.”
Most macaws are native to Central and South America, however, at least two species—scarlet macaws and military macaws—can be found in Mexico as well.
Each evening at Bausch’s apartment includes a “birdie bedtime,” which ensures good sleeping habits.
“The birds have to get at least 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of night,” Bausch explained. “I got blackout curtains and put cardboard in the windows.
“At nine o’clock it is lights out, birdie bedtime. Then I don’t usually get them up until 11 o’clock in the morning.”
It is believed macaws in captivity can typically live longer than macaws in the wild. Regardless, macaws have long life expectancies, ranging from approximately 40 years to 80 years—or even beyond 100.
“They can live up to 100 years, but no one in captivity has recorded that yet,” Bausch said. “With proper care, they can outlive my grandchildren.”
Macaws are herbivores, meaning they eat primarily seeds, nuts and fruit.
“Their main diet right now is pellets, but they eat everything I do, except there are a few certain foods we eat that are toxic to them,” Bausch said. “They get their fruits and vegetables every day.”
Bausch has been able to purchase food from Kevs Pet World, owned and operated by Kevin Fawcett of Fennimore.
Each of the birds enjoys a non-expensive toy. Bishop enjoys playing with paper, while Chimmie likes zip-ties. Romeo enjoys baby toys.
“Probably the cheapest toy for a macaw is about $30,” Bausch said. “I learned real quick to make my own.”
Bausch hopes to someday add an African Grey parrot to her family. She would also like to open a bird rescue.
“I’m not in it to make money, I’m in it to make sure they have a good home,” she said. “‘Adopt a bird and spread the word’ will be the theme.”