Scruffy and Coco

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 Scruffy and Coco ~ By Julie Hamilton
This is a sad, tragic story with a happy outcome for two beautiful parrots. The Internet news report outlines the bare facts.
Swaffham: Man charged over murder. 
A 45-year-old man appeared in court this morning
(Saturday) charged with murder and attempted murder.
Michael Killeen, of Montague Way, Swaffham, is charged
with the murder of 72-year-old Clive Rowe and the
attempted murder of Natalie Stevenson (47) in the town on
Wednesday, 23rd July 2008. The homicide took place at
Clive Rowe’s home in Swaffham, Norfolk.
The female victim remains at the Norfolk and Norwich
University Hospital and is in a stable condition.
Two parrots, Scruffy, a blue-fronted Amazon, and his cage-companion, Coco, a blue and yellow macaw, witnessed the tragic murder of their beloved person, Mr Clive Rowe.
Norfolk police called NLPR on 24th July 2008, on the morning of discovering Mr Rowe's body. They called one of our trustees, Lorraine Roberts, asking for our assistance to remove the birds as they were extremely agitated and were hindering the forensic team. This grave incident certainly required a rapid response as it was clear these two parrots had incurred some level of trauma and needed a place of relative safety that would provide peace and quiet. We were two-hour drive away from Norfolk and had no immediate available quarantine space for the birds but we were extremely concerned for them and wondered how long they had been without food and water. Thankfully, Andelphine Mason-Brown, trustee of NLPR, called Norfolk police and spoke to one of the police officers stationed at the scene of the crime to advise, in the interim, food requirements and sensible action to take in order to calm the birds. This was whilst I made frantic calls for immediate help to locate a temporary safe-house. The only sound offer was from a lovely lady called Ann Boyce in the south of England, whose parrot experience came through her own tame cockatiel but she was willing to put herself out to help these unfortunate souls, despite building renovations to her home. This gave temporary relief to the situation, for which we were extremely grateful, but no sooner was this finalised, Lorraine called to inform me that Andelphine and her husband, Michael, would take the two parrots into their home on a temporary basis. This provided greater relief as Andelphine was in the neighbouring county and had experience with her wonderful rescued cockatoos and her delightful Meyer's and Cape parrot. Fortunately, also, Andelphine and Michael have a lovely large countryside home and grounds that would provide the ideal setting for dear Scruffy and Coco. Fortune was smiling on these dear souls. 
Trustee, John Hamilton, arranged with attending Detective Sergeant to collect the birds. John had a long day ahead of him, setting off at 2.30 pm and arriving at Swaffam, Norfolk at 4 pm. He entered the property under the guidance of a forensic officer and encountered an eerie scene, as one can imagine following a traumatic homicide. This is something one doesn’t expect to encounter in parrot rescue work. Not duly disturbed, John focused his attention on the two nameless parrots—we later discovered their names through reading the Internet news reports on comments made by neighbours of the deceased.
John writes the following statement:  “On entering the property, I saw a blue & yellow macaw and a Blue-fronted Amazon in the same cage - Approximate size of cage: W. 36” x D. 24” x H. 36”. The cage was rusty, filthy, covered in old faeces which also covered the food. The water was also filthy with green-slime. There were remains of age-old fruit in the bottom of the cage with heaps of hulled sunflower seeds. The two-folding cage rooftops were secured shut with a round metal dish, not dissimilar of a vehicle hub cap, bolted through each end. The bowl was filthy and held various pieces of rancid fruit. Three padlocks secured all three doors of the cage, one of which the forensic officer had to whittle through with a junior hacksaw to obtain entry.”
Images of Scruffy's & Coco's cage
As a rescue, had we seen the conditions the two parrot were living under, prior the murder of their keeper, we would certainly have confiscated them under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Please also note that it is illegal to house two birds the size of Scruffy and Coco in the cage size stated.  
The filthy purchesThe filthy feeding dish 
John transferred Scruffy and Coco in two appropriately sized travel carriers and made his way to Andelphine and Michael’s home to place these needy birds into a safe, loving environment. John arrived home around midnight exhausted.
A few words from Andelphine and Michael:   

“Following conversations with the Norfolk Constabulary and John, we were certainly expecting highly stressed and traumatised parrots – but I believe from the moment they were in John’s gentle and knowledgeable care they knew they were safe. This was most obvious when on their arrival they waited patiently in their carriers as final adjustments were made in our lobby cum quarantine area for them. They interacted quite readily with our two, almost grownup children, with numerous ‘Hello’s and animated acceptance of food treats, etc. They seemed happy to be transferred from their carriers to a cage full of food – Macaw/Amazon seed mix, fresh fruit and vegetables, sprouted seed – they just kept on eating – bless them. The next day they explored our birds’ day aviary which is attached to our kitchen and it was love at first sight – and still is their favourite place.
Poor Scruffy clearly had had no access to a bath/shower and her feathers were rather matted, stained and in poor condition (she really reflected the appalling conditions she lived in as seen in the vile cage condition), which also caused her typical musty Amazon odour to be very strong. Coco’s feathers were better but lacked the beautiful sheen and iridescence one associates with healthy well-groomed Macaws. Fortunately it rained later that day and the next and we ‘forced’ them both to get a good soaking – which soon became quite raucous as they were clearly enjoying the rain. Needless to say their appearance and feather condition has rapidly improved.

Scruffy is extremely sweet. She is somewhat emotionally attached to Coco in a companion sense and enjoys preening her, but gets very little in return! Coco is also very sweet and flies exceptionally well, and quite easy to handle - once you get past the bluff and scare tactics she likes to display. Her typical Macaw lunge is just that – a lunge. Compared to our rescued Moluccan cockatoos, Coco with easy to read ‘body language’ is a gentle pleasant experience for us. 
With our commitment to several special needs parrots, we did not envisage being able to extend our NLPR obligations to foster Coco and Scruffy in the long-term. Coco and Scruffy however, had other ideas regarding their future with us. They cunningly manipulated our teenage ‘fledglings’ (who are definitely not about to leave the nest anytime soon) who subsequently and persistently demanded, begged, cajoled, entreated on their behalf. Hence plans for a greatly expanded aviary are now afoot – one that can be used throughout the year in all but the most inclement weather.”
We are overjoyed to know these two birds now have a loving long-term foster home with two NLPR Trustees! 
Up-date from Julie Hamilton: Scruffy and Coco now have clean accommodation with environmental enrichment in the daily use of an aviary, natural stimulation, occupational therapy, a healthy diet and human interaction. These two souls have truly fallen on their feet! 
Post Script: The next of kin to Mr Clive Rowe, the deceased, signed the birds over to NLPR. A happy rescue ending!
Update May 2011: Please read the letter from Gemma, the niece of the deceased Clive Rowe. scruffy_and_coco__by_gemma.pdf