By Don White, CV&T Staff Writer
People have been flocking to a place in Estill County where bird hunting is always in season.
Sharing a building on Richmond Road that has been the long-time home of Square Deal Pawn & Gift, “Robin’s Parrott Nest” features a vast array of birds valued at from $40 to $3,500.
Now owned by Keith and Robin Tipton, the pawn shop was founded and run by her mother, Diana Stamper Muzyczuk, for many years.
Mrs. Murzyczuk, a native of Lee County, is retired and living in Irvine.
The Tiptons and their son Paul, 16, live in an apartment attached to the businesses.
Robin has three daughters by a previous marriage, Tonya Cox, 29, Christy Johnson, 26, and Daven Mills, 24, all Estill High graduates.
Keith is the son of Joyce and William “Pidge” Tipton of Cow Creek.
When Robin says she has been bringing her “babies” to the pawn shop for years, she isn’t referring to her offspring, but to the birds she began raising in the basement of her home.
About a year ago, a decision was made to begin selling out of Robin’s Parrott Nest, and the response has been tremendous.
Besides lower prices, making her inventory more inviting than that found in other pet shops is the fact all her birds are lovingly hand-fed from birth.
“They all think I’m their mama.
“I take a lot of extra time with my little babies, play with them, and because of that, most of them start talking long before they normally would,” she says.
Always fond of birds, Robin recalls wanting a Macaw as a child, but wasn’t able to afford one because they cost about $2,000.
She was in her 20s when she found a featherless baby Macaw for sale in Ohio for $500. Now covered in feathers, the pet bird lives in the back of the store.
Customers are more accustomed to being greeted by Cherry Blossom, a 20-year-old blue and gold Macaw who sits on a perch near the store’s entrance.
Among her favorite things to say are “Just look at her, she’s so pretty,” and “Let’s go bye bye.”
One place she enjoys going bye bye to is the nearby King Tutt Video, where she seldom talks but likes to spread her wings and put on a show.
When on her own perch, she is often requesting to be served up water, peanuts, apples, and crackers.
According to Robin, purchasing a McCaw is very different from bringing some other type of animal into the house, such as a dog or cat.
“Their lifespan is basically the same as a human’s, so it’s a lifetime commitment, and quite often the birds outlive their owners,” notes the Michigan native.
Despite sacrafices that may be necessary, Robin feels owning birds is very worthwhile because they can be fun and loving companions.
She says they like to cuddle like a puppy, and give kisses.
“They especially like to French kiss, sticking their tongues right inside your mouth.”
She says birds generally enjoy toys and music, and prefer the same kinds of fresh fruit, vegetables, and meat eaten by their owners.
As to the cost, a hand-fed parakeet can be purchased for as little as $40.
One of the more popular birds, the colorful Sun Conure, sells for $450 and is great with children, according to Robin.
On-line selling has been bringing customers to Irvine from all across Kentucky, as well as states like Ohio and Indiana.
“People seem more willing now to make bigger purchases, and a lot of birds have gone out of here since late December.”
Robin and Keith say they welcome visitors who just want to drop by and spend some time admiring the birds and watching their antics.
If possible, visitors would be wise to bring along a youngster or two.
“The birds love children and they usually talk up a storm when a child comes into the store,” says Robin.