Edmonton

Performing macaw named Captain Jack has a rival somewhere in Edmonton

A  blue-and-gold macaw named Captain Jack has been stealing hearts for years in Edmonton, appearing at festivals, parties, day cares and nursing homes.

'He wants to be number one, he loves being the centre of attention'

Michele Dereniuk and her blue-and-gold macaw, Captain Jack, make an appearance on CBC Radio's Edmonton AM. (Travis McEwan)

A  blue-and-gold macaw named Captain Jack has been stealing hearts for years in Edmonton, appearing at festivals, parties, day cares and nursing homes.

"He knows that he's the centre of attention," said Michele Dereniuk, Jack's guardian. "He will talk and sing and he'll say 'hi,' and he loves to show off."

The 16-year-old bird plays his pirate persona straight, no costumes or gimmicks.

"I've got a little hat and a bandana for him but I haven't quite got that on him," said Dereniuk. "He's an alpha male, so he's got his own personality. He's stubborn."

"He actually even knows the f-word."

Like other birds in the parrot family, macaws have vocal abilities that mimic human language.

Sharing the stage

Dereniuk and Jack presumed their act was unique in the city, until a reddit thread earlier this month showed a photo of a woman and a macaw drawing attention at a popular cafe.

It wasn't Jack, but it appears he isn't the only blue-and-gold macaw delighting people in Edmonton.

"I think he's a little bit jealous," said Dereniuk. "He wants to be number one, he loves being the centre of attention."

He wants to be number one, he loves being the centre of attention,.- Michele Dereniuk

Dereniuk and Jack paired up more than a decade ago, when Jack's elderly human owner could no longer care for him.

Dereniuk stepped in, and soon found her new companion was a star seeking a stage.

"He'll dance and sing," she said. "He'll shake a foot and wave and give kisses."

Direniuk and Jack have become a fixture around Edmonton in the summer. They make frequent trips to stores he's welcome at, in an effort to keep him entertained.

"[Macaws] are very intelligent. He's as smart as a [toddler]," Dereniuk told CBC Radio's Edmonton AM Thursday "They need to be stimulated and taken out to places."

"People are like, 'Oh, my god, that's so cool, I've never seen that before … is [he] real?' "

Like any true performer, Jack doesn't mind a bit of drama.

"I took him to Home Depot and he all of a sudden flew off my arm and flew to the top shelf and started screaming," Dereniuk said. "I had to climb up on a ladder to get him down."

Jack has Instagram and Facebook pages to keep fans updated on his latest antics.

About the Author

Tanara McLean is a producer and journalist at CBC Edmonton. She grew up in Red Deer and has spent her entire career in Alberta, working in print, radio and television.