SOOKE -- Brian regularly goes for walks with members of his flock.

“If I don’t have the birds they always ask, ‘Where’s the birds?’” Brian says of the people who pass him. “‘You look naked! You don’t have birds on ya!’”

Today, Brian is carrying a pair of large, white cockatoos. When Santos and Casper aren’t walking down the road with him, they’re stopping at a bench to snuggle with him.

“Cockatoos are like puppies,” Brian explains. “They like to be held and cuddled.”

They also demonstrate their curiosity and charm by confidently walking up my arm and looking deeply into my eyes and display their intelligence when I ask Brian if the cockatoo on my arm is Santos.

The bird immediately responds, “Casper.” Not only does he know his name, he knows when a lowly reporter doesn’t.

You start realizing why Brian saves birds like these.

You begin to understand why he would tattoo his first rescue parrot on his arm — Calvin.

“A bird has to choose you. You can’t choose the bird,” Brian says. “Once you earn their trust, they’re yours for life.”

And what a life Brian and Calvin had.

The Blue Fronted Amazon would often sit on his head during the day, and preferred sleeping in Brian’s bed at night.

“I’d wake up and he’d be behind my knees under the covers,” Brian smiles. “Just an amazing creature.”

The remarkable friendship almost ended 12 years ago when Brian was hospitalized in a coma.

“The doctor there [told my sister], ‘Your brother’s not going to make it’”, Brian recalls. “‘He’s not going to come out of the coma, so start making plans.’”

By ‘plans’, the doctor didn’t mean sneak Calvin the parrot into the hospital. But that — Brian says — is exactly what happened.

“When [Calvin] came in and jumped on me, my eyes moved,” Brian says. “The next day I woke up.”

Brian credits Calvin with saving his life.

“I saved him. He saved me.”

Although Calvin died a couple of years ago, after living for 84 years, Brian is still paying his feathered friend’s love forward. Now he works with birds for Sooke Rescue and the Feathers in BC club.

“Once you‘ve rescued a bird, they know they’ve been saved,” Brian says. “I think — deep down inside — they know something good’s happened to them.”