I grew up with one of these remarkable birds and so it was only a matter of time until I painted one.
Maestro came into our lives in the 1980s when my great aunt discovered him at an antiques auction house. She was appalled to learn that he was one of the auction lots and quickly decided that she couldn't possibly go home without him. Not being in a position to take on a parrot, the obvious choice was our family, who already had quite a menagerie.
It didn't take Maestro long to find his feet in the family, going on to become the head honcho. He was an accomplished crooner and had a wide vocabulary, guaranteeing thrilled reactions from visitors meeting him for the first time.
As is common with many species of parrots, he had his favourite human which, after years sometimes, changed suddenly and without warning. I was honoured to be his favourite for a few years, during which time hung upside down from the gutter and sauntered across the quilt singing, while I was bed bound with chicken pox. As the early riser in the household I used to bid him "Good morning" when I came downstairs, a greeting he returned after a few weeks of learning.
As well as favourites, he had his nemeses. The most memorable of whom was our grandmother — the woman who gave him the most love and attention of all, yet he insisted on rushing across the room, on foot, to bite her ankles.
We don't know what his life was like before he joined us, but he lived like a king while he was part of the family. Whenever possible he was outside his cage and, during warmer months, enjoyed time in the garden; in autumn, returning home with a purple beak, after feasting on elderberries.