Life in Community

My Green Friend

August 12, 2021 by


Who wouldn’t love a friend who greets you every day by shouting, “Hello, good morning, I looove you!” Messi, our Blue-fronted Amazon parrot, is such a friend. He gives his heart to anyone who feeds him bananas; but be careful, sometimes he mistakes fingers for fruit!

Messi, named for the famous Argentinian soccer player, is around five years old. He lives under a mango tree in the large yard of Villa Primavera Bruderhof, a small urban community in Asunción, Paraguay. He is mostly green with some red and yellow feathers on his wings and a blue patch on his forehead, which earned his species its name. Besides bananas, he eats sunflower seeds, vegetables, and all kinds of fruit. An accident he suffered as a chick robbed him of his ability to fly, so we always leave the door of his outdoor cage open so he can move around. He spends his days on a perch or on top of his cage, commenting in his particular way on everything that happens around him. When his wild brothers fly by above, he screeches loudly to get their attention. I think he’s sometimes unhappy not to be able to fly with them, but he finds consolation in the human attention that he loves.

Every morning, Messi helps one of the young men light the fire in the tatakuá, a wood-fired brick oven. For some reason, this parrot loves smoke. He walks along a ledge designed for resting pans of food, to get as close to the oven door as possible. The ledge ends just shy of the opening itself, but he stands tottering at the terminus to inhale the scent of burning wood. I think this is his favorite time of day because he repeatedly sings out “¡alegrí-alegrí-alegría!” – which happens to mean “joy, joy, joy!”– a line from his favorite Christmas song. He only does this when he is excited, like when I am taking food out of the oven, because I sometimes let him have a taste.


A few weeks ago we almost lost our beloved pet. In the middle of the night, we heard him shrieking at the top of his lungs and rushed out to find him fighting for his life with an opossum on top of him. For some days we didn’t know if Messi would survive. He had lost a lot of feathers, was covered in wounds, and couldn’t open his beak to eat. I fed him banana-and-citrus puree from a syringe five times a day, which he didn’t like at all. But three days after the battle, Messi pulled himself up onto the side of the cardboard box where he was recuperating and stayed there till the evening, watching the people go by. On the fourth day he started talking again, and on the fifth he escaped from his box. So I returned him to his cage in the garden. We still had to remove the hulls from sunflower seeds and help him eat, but Messi kept on improving.

Now Messi is almost back to his old self and we have taken measures to ensure that the opossum doesn’t attack again. He is still missing some feathers and can’t open his beak very wide, but he can eat without assistance and sings enthusiastically. The only thing he can’t do anymore is nip his human visitors, which is something we don’t miss much! We are all glad that our feathered friend has recovered, and we hope he keeps cheering us up for many years to come.

Emily Thomson lives at Villa Primavera, a Bruderhof in Asuncion, Paraguay.


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