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From the parrot's beak: Merry Christmas edition

Updated on December 24, 2016
Yellowbird and Pepita join the Christmas crew in wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas! - Photo by George Sommers
Yellowbird and Pepita join the Christmas crew in wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas! - Photo by George Sommers

- Parrot's Part in Marriage Proposal: Theme park and zoo bird shows often feature a bird flying to an audience member; taking a bill or coin and flying back with the cash to the trainer. Australia's Taronga Zoo does this as well- but one day, with a twist. Paddy McNamara, boyfriend of zookeeper Meghan Plumb, had a plan which he worked on secretly with her bosses for 12 months. One day, he and his family attended the bird show she conducts, as they frequently do. The plan was for McNamara to be the "volunteer", only instead of a coin the bird would deliver an engagement ring form his hand to hers. But suddenly a problem - a buzzard released as part of the show didn't return as scheduled. The predatory buzzard may have very well attacked a free flying parrot. "I couldn't believe it. Meghan stalled for as long as she could and they were about to call the show off when the buzzard finally came back," explains McNamara. After that, the scheme went on; with the avian delivery and Plumb realizing "This isn't a coin." McNamara, given a microphone; approaches the stage and pops the question - and Plumb accepts, to the audience's wild applause.

- Grey Matter: Turns out African grey parrots have an unusual relationship with some fellow critters which are also African and grey, albeit somewhat larger - elephants. The deep footprints of elephants often form pools of water (think T Rex in "Jurassic Park") encouraging growth of calcium rich grasses- a major food source for the parrots. Flock members take turns with some of them feeding on these grasses and others remaining in trees to act as sentinels. Another bind elephants and African grey parrots have, sadly; is that both are rapidly declining in numbers due to poaching.

- Christmas/Parrotrivia: Potty the parrot accompanies Patchy the pirate to the North Pole in "It's a SpongeBob Christmas"; an episode done in Rankin-Bass style claymation. The stolen mail truck they use gets a flat and a hungry Patchy eyes Potty, picturing a plate of hot wings "with blue cheese dressing". They eventually make it to the Pole, and while Potty meets Santa, Patchy gets chased by a polar bear.

- That's not the North Pole - Well, that's not a Reindeer!: New York City residents have become accustomed to seeing the feral Quaker, or monk, parrots that have adapted to the sometimes snowy and cold city. One of their trademark large nests was located on a North Broadway utility pole.

- Psittacine cinema: VIDEOS: Watch These Birds Sing Christmas Carols -- Lump of coal for this bird! Parrot attacks Santa. Funny parrot and singing Santa Claus - YouTube

- Good News - Bad Guys Nabbed: In the first nine months of 2016, some 5,000 would be animal smugglers were apprehended in Colombia alone with their illicit cargo of 20,000 assorted birds, fish, reptiles and mammals.

- Blow Me Down: The Hollywood Christmas Parade features a giant pirate balloon, complete with parrot.

- Some Parrot in that Eggnog?: Doorly's Rum features a hyacinth macaw on its label.

- Christmas Colors: 28 eclectus parrots, 40 umbrella cockatoos and 49 Ternate chattering lorikeets were released to their natural habitat last week by Maluku’s Natural Resources Conservation Agency and the Wildlife Conservation Society-Indonesia Program (WCS-IP). They had been under custody to protect against poachers. "But the birds need to be released eventually to preserve the ecosystem. We have to restore or even increase the population of these three bird species," Ternate conservation agency head Lilian Komaling says. Tropical, mostly Muslim Indonesia may not come to mind as a Christmas destination - except for some parrot fans. Not only are eclectus parrots sexually dimorphous, which is rare for parrots, but it's actually quite easy to tell the boys from the girls. They are so different that early explorers thought they were two separate species. The males are green and the females mostly red - the perfect Christmas color combo. Both sexes of the chatterling lories are red with green wings. And if it's a white Christmas you're looking for, look to the trees and the skies for those white cockatoos!

.- I'm Alright, Jack: A trip to a Brazilian Zoo on TV's syndicated "Jack Hanna's Animal Adventures" showcases golden conures (Brazil's national bird), Amazon parrots and scarlet and blue & gold macaws; many of them surrendered pets being rehabilitated to be returned to the wild

- Quote of the Week: That's a lot of money to spend on a parrot she said. It was then I knew we could never be friends. - Facebook meme.

- Hot Dates: Current-1/5: 117th Annual Audubon Christmas Countdown.

12/24-25: Christmas Eve, Christmas. Time to watch those $20 parrot toys get destroyed in a day. Keep things like mistletoe, poinsettias, Christmas ornaments, electrical wiring, alcohol, drunk or unruly guests and chocolate well away from your bird. Fun for us, but unsafe and potentially deadly to them.

12/31-1/1: New Year's; New Year's Eve: Make sure you bird is safe and secure during what might be for them loud and scary New Year's activities. Make some resolutions: clean that cage more often; more variety of food, more interaction with our birds-- are some good ones. -- Official bird show/club/event activity pretty much suspended during holidays

1/5: National Bird Day

- Lost: Congo African grey 'Sofia', Queens Village, NY. Banded, Reward for safe return no questions asked. (212) 748-9288

- Stolen: American kestrel (falcon) "Buster" Locust Valley, NY Imprinted on humans, cannot survive in wild. No charges will be filed. (631) 332-0852


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