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From the parrot's beak: funhouse edition

Updated on May 20, 2017
Cockatoos: Masters of escape; manufacturers of tools. - Photo by George Sommers
Cockatoos: Masters of escape; manufacturers of tools. - Photo by George Sommers

- You Gotta Hop Before You Can Fly: How did birds learn to fly? Pacific parrotlets hop from branch to branch when foraging – a skill that may have helped bird ancestors first get off the ground. They branch hop up to 30 times a minute, gaining propulsion from their legs and adding a few wingbeats to extend their range. A study shows they do this to minimize energy, and suggests bird-like dinosaurs might have pioneered the technique. Some parrotlets were trained to fly between perches for a food reward. Perches were equipped with sensors to measure the forces generated by the birds’ legs and wingbeats. For short distances, they jumped rather than flew. Over greater lengths, the birds used wingbeats.“It’s more efficient to push off with your legs than flap your wings,” says Diana Chin at Stanford University. “We saw that as a model of how these early birds, who couldn’t fly as well, developed their flights to get farther and farther,” says Chin. The lessons could be valuable in robotics, and Chin’s colleagues at Stanford are already working on flying robots. - From

- Do Birds Have Belly Buttons?: Well, sort of. While still in the egg, there is a tiny cord that attaches the embryo to the yolk sac. However, any trace vanishes shortly after hatching.- From

- Everybody Into the Parrot Cage: An escaped chimpanzee at the Honolulu Zoo caused most visitors to be evacuated. About 20 people huddled for safety in the bird aviary, including Lindsay Ayles of Australia. “The zoo staff just herded us into this bird cage then we thought oh right that was the chimpanzee that escaped,” said Ayles. The chimp was captured and returned; with no harm to it, humans or parrots. The zoo has had other escapes in the past, including a March 2012 incident when vandals cut holes in the cages of three exotic birds. - From

- Parrot and Owner Talk Movies: Message from Molly: Well, I think it has finally happened. Mum has cracked up. She keeps looking at Crayon and saying "I am Groot" over and over again. Crayon says "Hello Baby" back at her just to humor her. Then she says "I am Groot" again. She seems to have forgotten who she is. - From a Facebook post

- Now if They Just Had a Toolbox: Craftsmen know it's easier to keep a pliers or hammer in a belt instead of having to retrieve it when needed. Goffin's cockatoos are among a select group of animals that are known to use and even manufacture "tools" in their search for food, i.e. sticks to get at hard to reach goodies. Moreover, after a brief learning phase, they keep their tools safe nearby without dropping them until the last of five difficult-to-obtain food rewards has been retrieved. In order to succeed, they are able to adapt in a way that allows for feeding and holding the tool at the same time which highlights learning abilities and suggests the ability to plan their body movements. - From

- The Tales Turds Tell: While the color of your bird's droppings will vary slightly depending on what you feed him, you should watch for droppings that are yellow, rusty brown or tarry black. These can be indicators of internal bleeding or other serious problems. You should also notice if there is a major change in the consistency of your bird's droppings. If they are too runny or too firm, it can cause complications for your pet. - From a Facebook post.

- The Great Escape, Part 1: Filling the budgies' food dish was the final, last minute task before this writer had to leave for his "real" job but.... the pair o' 'keets flew out of their cage. Of course, they kept quiet so finding them was a chore in the first place and then the places they landed were inaccessible to reach; under the bed, behind the bureau, etc. Meanwhile, the clock was ticking away, The female was a little easier to catch,but made two more escapes while I was attempting to round up the male. Finally, when each of them separately landed in high places, I was able to trap them so their only choice was to go into the open door of the cage. Strangely, enough, instead of being an anticipated half hour late for work, I was early- but it did require some bending of the speed limit laws. And throughout the day I had to look forward to reassembling my room which was in shambles after moving everything around in the capture effort.

- The Great Escape Part 2: - Cockatoos don't like to be left and balk at going into their cages when their caregivers are leaving for work. Some carry the game to extremes by hanging off of the back of their cages. The more frustrated the person becomes the more intensely the cockatoo plays the game. One woman reported that the moment she was ready to leave, her 'too jumped off of his stand and ran to hide under the bed. She had to get down on her hands and knees and reach under to retrieve him. The more upset she became the more fun he had. Finally she would drag him out from under the bed and he would laugh hysterically. Of course, the best way for her to stop the game was to put him back in his cage while she was getting ready ... perhaps at a different stage of readiness each morning. - From Sally Blanchard's Companion Parrot Website

- Didja Know:The only parrots that are not on any CITES list are agapornis roseicollis, melopsittacus undulatus,nymphicus hollandicus and psittacula krameri, aka peach faced love bird, budgie, cockatiel and ring necked parakeet.

- Parrotrivia: A scarlet macaw makes a cameo appearance in "The Zookeeper's Wife"; now playing in theaters.

- Quote o' the Week: On the day that God created parrots, he sat back and smiled.

- ParroTV: Kakapos were featured on PBS "Nature"'s episode on "Animal Misfits". The heavy, flightless parrots must climb to get their favorite treetop food treats. -- Foster Parrots, the Rockland MA/Hope Valley RI parrot rescue, was recently featured on Boston's WCVB TV news.

- Something completely Different: Some non-parrot articles by this writer appearing on this site include "Moose Encounters of the Furred Kind" - how to increase your odds of seeing one in moose country, and "A Great Little River for Canoers/Kayakers is Full of Surprises" - for boating and wildlife enthusiasts.

- Hot Dates: Ongoing- 5/31: Creative Bird Toy Matching Donation Drive orders of toys &/or parts up to $100 matched with equivalent to non-profit rescues or sanctuaries for both bird & small critters. Go to their web site or FB page for more info. -- 5/21: Georgia Companion Bird Society Meet Up 12:00 PM Bird Picn -- Want your parrot show/event/speaker featured here? Email info to

- Lost: Senegal parrot.Will land on anyone's head or shoulder. Upper Haiku, HI (808) 446-6323


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