March 31, 2003

SUNOL IS THE SORT OF PLACE where you just might see a fellow out for a stroll with his Macaw. And when you stopped and rolled down your car window to ask about the big, colorful bird on the fellow's shoulder, he might stick his hand in your car window to shake yours and introduce himself. Such moments are the making of our wonderful Sunol animal tales.

The fellow with the macaw is Frank Anderson, and the bird is Max, who, by rights, should probably be Maxine, given that she's a she, but I'm getting ahead of myself. Although they look like a man and pet that have been together for years, Frank adopted Max only three months ago. She is a 23-year-old Blue and Gold Macaw and was imported - when it was still legal to do so - from the Amazon as a baby.

When Frank and Max met, she had been living in a very traumatic situation, locked in a cage and never let out for 22 years. A full-grown Macaw usually weighs about 2-1/2 pounds and Max weighed in at barely a pound. Her owners didn't know Max was female until she suddenly produced an egg four years ago. "When I took her to the doctor," Frank said, "He told me that kind of incarceration will make a bird psychotic, and that, yes, she was crazy. But he said that she would recover from traumatic stress much faster than a person can."

Max's resilience is evident. In just three months with Frank, she's gained half a pound, developed trust and affection for her rescuer, and become a major fan of a nice walk on a pretty day. Her best friend is Tyson, a cat with one eye belonging to Frank's son, Josiah, 17. When Frank begins talking about his pride and affection throw a big grin across his face. "He's a wonderful kid," Frank said. "He's doing great in school, he's got a job in a print shop and he takes extra classes at community college."

Frank is a Sr. Process Maintenance Technician for LifeScan, Inc. of Milpitas, a company that makes diabetes meters and strips. He talked enthusiastically about the importance of the development of products that help people with diabetes. Max may have had some terrible luck in her past, but it looks like she is one lucky Macaw to have been rescued by Frank Anderson. Kudos to a man with a lot of nurturing, caring energy to give at home, at work, and on a stroll with his beautiful, happy Macaw.

ALAMEDA CREEK ALLIANCE NEWS: ACA had its March meeting in Sunol Tuesday, and ACA Director Jeff Miller reported that four adult steelhead trout were documented recently in the Alameda Creek flood control channel below the Fremont BART weir. A male and female were seen together exhibiting spawning behavior in a pool just downstream of the BART tracks. ACA volunteers seined the pool and captured three adult males, all about 28 inches in length, but were unable to capture the female. "Two of the fish appeared to have clipped adipose fins - indicating likely hatchery origin - and one had adipose intact," Jeff explained. "The male fish that appeared to be wild was not moved upstream since we did not get the female fish."

If you are interested in volunteering, ACA needs help in April distributing information brochures and talk to creekside residents about the Alameda Creek watershed and the steelhead restoration. "We will be distributing the brochures for two to four hours each weekend in April," Jeff said. Please contact him at 510-845-2233 if you can help.

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