“Holly, want a cracker?”
We have often heard the refrain, “Polly, want a cracker?”
Well, now if you visit Central Park in Blooming Prairie on any afternoon, you may hear the refrain, “Holly, want a cracker?”
Holly is Blooming Prairie resident Carl Barber’s beautifully colored Macaw parrot.
Macaws are long-tailed, often colorful New World parrots, native to Central America and North America (only Mexico), South America, and formerly the Caribbean. Most species are associated with forests, especially rain forests, but others prefer woodland or savannah-like habitat.
Barber, who lives across the street from the Prairie Manor Care Center, comes over to the city park almost daily at mid-afternoon with his two talkative parrots. Barber loves to show off his birds to park visitors, mostly young kids.
He also has a orange-winged amazon parrot. The orange-winged amazon is a mainly green parrot about 33 cm (13 in) long and weighing about 340 g. It has blue and yellow feathers on its head, which varies in extent between individuals. The upper mandible is partly horn colored (gray) and partly dark-gray. It has orange feathers in the wings and tail, which can be seen when in flight.
Barber’s Macaw is 6 years old and Valerie, the Amazon parrot Barber bought just a month ago, is 13. Both are females.
“I like birds and the kids seem to really get along with the birds,” Barber says. “They also don’t shed like cats and dogs,” he added.
Barber carefully allows passers by to hold the birds. “It’s my turn to hold her,” says Noah Fawver to his friend, Zoe Heimer.
Barber said his birds are therapeutic and relaxing for him. He also says he enjoys making kids happy by bringing the birds to the park.
Valerie is very friendly and has a “whole notebook” of conversational lines. Among them are: “Happy Birthday,” “What the heck?” and Valerie whistles the theme to the Andy Griffith Show.
Barber also has two bearded dragon lizards that are about 13 inches in length. He has not brought them to the park.
In addition to his love for birds, Barber enjoys the Christmas season by putting up a large variety of blow-up creations including many Disney characters. “Wait until you see what I will have this year,” he teased.