A Passion for Parrots in Passaic County

A peak into Parrotopia, the 800-square-foot outdoor aviary in Haskell that eight exotic birds call home.

In her custom-built outdoor aviary, Bonnie Mano feeds some of her parrot flock. Clockwise, from top: Rico, Bentley, Frootloops, Dino and Rocky.
In her custom-built outdoor aviary, Bonnie Mano feeds some of her parrot flock. Clockwise, from top: Rico, Bentley, Frootloops, Dino and Rocky.
Photo by John Bessler

Life is great for the eight exotic birds residing at Parrotopia. That’s the name Bonnie Mano has given to her home in the Passaic County community of Haskell. In her backyard: an 800-square-foot outdoor aviary outfitted with lush plants, colorful toys and hanging ropes for perching. It’s a parrot paradise.

“I love tropical environments,” says Mano, a mainframe programmer. “My aviary, yard and home is the New Jersey version of that for me.”
The two-level aviary was completed in August 2015. Inside her home, just off the kitchen, are two additional cages where her pets perch in cold weather—and whenever Mano isn’t around.

As Mano, 54, enters the aviary, the birds fly or slink toward her along the cage’s walls and roof. Perching on her shoulders or a nearby table, they ruffle their feathers in excitement and caw as she kisses their beaks and talks to them.

Growing up in Pines Lake, a small community in Wayne, Mano always had pets. She also enjoyed her annual family vacations to Florida’s Parrot Jungle theme park (now Jungle Island). She bought her first bird, Mia, a cockatoo, in 2000. (Alas, Mia died last year of a heart attack.) Currently, Mano’s flock ranges in age from three to the late 30s and stretches across parrot species from African Greys (Gigi, Rocky and Tupac) to macaws (Dino, Bentley and Rico) to Amazons (Frootloops and Polly). Mano and her husband, Rick, also have a 2-year-old Bouvier des Flandres, Bene.

Rico is Mano’s favorite. “If you’ve had a pet before, certain ones sometimes, you can look in each other’s eyes and you have a relationship that transcends the species,” says Mano.

Mano dedicates most of her time to caring for her flock. She spends about $250 per month on the birds’ feed, a mix of nuts, pellets and produce, including zucchini, kale and papayas. She vacuums and hoses down the cages daily.

Mano’s passion has grown with her flock. “When you do a good job and you give them everything they need, they thrive,” she says.

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