Brewer's blackbird takes trips to a local brewery

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Some days living in Winters feels like walking in a Disney cartoon, but not because its residents are randomly breaking out in songs and choreographed dance numbers. It’s all to do with one friendly little bird who likes landing on people’s shoulders. Rebecca Rivas, the bird’s caretaker, is a little embarrassed by it all. The little Brewer’s blackbird came into her life this past May, when its parents nested in the Italian cypress trees behind her home. One chick fell out of its nest. When Rivas and her husband tried to return it, other birds started attacking. Rivas had nurtured baby birds before, so they decided that they could give the little bird a chance. She would take on the task of preparing its food and feeding the chick every hour, on the hour.    The time could hardly have been worse. The little bird came into their lives three days before her daughter’s wedding. But the little bird needed help, and Rivas knew how to provide it. Rivas fed the little chick every hour, on the hour, even on her daughter’s big day day. Having raised birds before, Rivas knew what to expect. The little chick would stick around for awhile, take advantage of the free food and shelter, then fly off to bigger, better, birdier things. This bird wasn’t going to follow that script. “I thought she would be like the others and just leave,” Rivas says, but so far, this little bird hasn’t flown the coop. Once it was clear the bird wasn’t leaving, they realized that they had to give it a name. They guessed the bird was female and named her Chinoa, Spanish for crybaby, because if the shoes fits, wear it. Rivas says that this little bird knows what she wants, and can be very vocal about it. While Rivas was on the phone for the interview, Chinoa flew over to perch on her shoulder and began chirping, perhaps in hope of getting a quote in the paper. Chinoa has a simple schedule. In the morning, Rivas lets her out of her cage, and Chinoa takes off. Rivas says the only way she find out what Chinoa has been doing all day is if somebody spots her and sends a picture. “You’re so embarrassing! Stop going out and bothering other people!” Rivas admonished Chinoa when she talked about the photos of the little bird out and about. At night, Chinoa returns home. When it’s time to go to bed, Rivas gives the command and Chinoa flies into her cage. Rivas says that people don’t realize just how intelligent the bird is. Recently, Chinoa decided to visit Berryessa Brewing Co. Rivas was surprised that Chinoa would travel so far from her house, but she can guess the reason. Rivas and her family had taken a week-long vacation, and hired a birdsitter to let Chinoa in and out of the house mornings and nights. Without the family interaction that she was used to, Rivas assumes that Chinoa took off in search of people. Berryessa Brewing was outdoors and provided her a captive audience. Again, Rivas did not know that her young bird was visiting a brewery during the day. She only found out when she saw the pictures later. There was Chinoa, perching on people’s heads, sitting on an employee’s shoulder for a video and exploring the brewery’s equipment. Rivas wasn’t as surprised by Chinoa’s antics as some of the brewery’s patrons. The little bird is so amiable and people oriented, she will sit on Rivas’ husband’s shoulder and watch wrestling with him. Rivas asks that the community not try to catch or harm Chinoa when she is off on her daily adventures. The bird is so friendly with humans that Rivas is worried that someone will assume she is attacking them when she lands on their shoulder. “Be kind. Be gentle. Just let her be free!” Rivas asks of people who meet Chinoa. Have you met Chinoa? Send the Express a picture at]]>

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