Richard’s Almanac: For the birds

Sculptor Mary Anne Moy and her African parrots Ito and Faust.

As I sat soaking up the sun last week at Shell Beach, I heard some rustling around the wrapping on my sandwich. Some small pooch was trying to have a snack. Before I could complain, the dog’s owner came by and apologized. I rose from my beach chair and noticed that she was camped out some 100 feet from me with two parrots.

This was a first for me so I decided to find out more about the parrots’ owner.

Mary Anne Moy is a sculptor with a lovely home on Lakeview Drive. She has a home in New York that she shares with her psychiatrist husband, two dogs and two parrots. And Mary Anne is a big-time animal lover.

The parrots she brought to the beach are African Gray Parrots. “Ito” is female and “Faust” is a male. They are 20 and 22, respectively. They are also very sociable. I saw Mary Anne sharing some of her pie with Ito very casually. When I asked why they did not fly away, she told me that she has their wings clipped in the warmer weather.

One time in the cooler weather a few years ago Faust (his clipped wings had grown back) decided to do some exploring.

“Well, he flew into a swampy area and I tried to follow him up to my waist in mud,” she said, adding that she thought she had lost him.

“So I called my friend Laurene Meehan who is somewhat of an expert on birds,” Mary Anne explained.

Laurene went to where Faust was last seen and made some bird calls.

“Before long he flew out of the woods onto my arm,” she said. 

When she asked him why he flew away, Faust replied, “I don’t know.”

Mary Anne said she learned something about birds and Teflon the hard way. One morning her husband was boiling water for coffee in a Teflon coated saucepan. The boiling water sent a mist into the air that killed her parakeet and two cockatoos.

“I got rid of all Teflon-coated pots and pans after that,” she said.

Describing these parrots as great mimics, she told me about adopting Ito a few years back. An older couple could no longer take care of her so Mary Anne jumped in.

“I had to be very careful because she frequently said to visitors, “Move your fat ass,” she recalled, adding that her house is very quiet except for classical music.

Mary Anne, a native New Yorker, describes herself as a product of the city’s diversity and blending of cultures.

“I am half Puerto Rican and half Chinese and a graduate of the city school system,” she noted, having been educated at city public schools and Hunter College.

Mary Anne maintains a studio in New York and teaches sculpting at the Art Students League. A few of her life-size works can be seen on the grounds around her Island home.