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From the parrot's beak: 'Twas the week before Christmas edition

Updated on December 19, 2016
Buddy Waskey's macaw soars above the crowd at the AFA Convention, but will no longer be allowed to do so in their home town.  - Photo by George Sommers
Buddy Waskey's macaw soars above the crowd at the AFA Convention, but will no longer be allowed to do so in their home town. - Photo by George Sommers

- He Fought the Law and the Law Won: Macaws will no longer fly free over Colonial Heights, VA - at least not legally. Moreover, if Lew "Buddy" Waskey remains a resident of the city, he will have to give up all but 8 of his 22 feathered pets, which he breeds for conservation purposes and often shows at schools and community events..Waskey has been raising the parrots, including endangered designated blue throated macaws, for over a decade. He says he and his family were surprised to learn earlier this year that Colonial Heights city code forbids property owners from keeping more than four companion animals, which the macaws are considered to be. (Waskey owns two properties in town, which is why he can keep 8 of the birds.) Despite a personal appeal to the council and a petition widely circulated and signed by parrot owners nationwide, the council denied "Buddy the Bird Man" a special use permit. Waskey also enjoys allowing his birds fly free in playgrounds, parks, etc.; which he demonstrated at last summer's American Federation for Aviculture Conference in Connecticut. However, Animal Control officers put the kibosh on that as well, informing him that exotic or poisonous animals cannot be at large in the city. In one minor concession, Waskey was granted a special permit to keep his dog, since that would technically be one over the limit of pets allowed on one of his properties. The council's action was taken in apparent response to some neighbors complaining about noise and concerns expressed by some city leaders although Waskey says he’s spent thousands of dollars building barriers in the yard and planting several trees to serve as sound buffers. One neighbor, Ann Hoopsick, says she’s been pleased with Waskey’s efforts. Waskey faces a May 1 deadline to reduce the size of his flock.

- Downeast Downer: Meanwhile, up the coast in Maine; bird owners may be facing another dilemma. A list of exotic pets that, if released, can allegedly pose risks to the public and native wildlife is being drafted by a committee for Maine's Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.The list may result in the banning of some pet species, possibly including certain parrots. The current law has not been updated in more than a decade, and the Legislature wanted to “provide for a strong emphasis on helping to protect the integrity of the native species in Maine,” according to IFW.

- No Greening These Greys: "Clark tried to put the wrong grey in the wrong cage and so the wrong grey took off in the opposite direction and I hear 'Where ya going knucklehead?' and then 'OK, wrong bird!' Amazing how they know that ain't their cage," reports one parrot owner.

- Christmas Countdown: Are there parrots in the 'hood? While bird populations in general seem to be declining at a worrisome level, you may be pleasantly surprised to observe feral quakers in your neighborhood, as they have become established in much of the USA. Other parrots used to more tropical climes might be observed in warmer areas. Some Mexican parrots now exist in greater numbers in the USA's Sunbelt than they do in their native country of origin. Audubon's 117th annual Christmas Bird Count runs from 12/14-1/5. Some 76,000 volunteers are expected to participate and all levels of experience are welcome. Contact your local Audubon for details.

- Quote o' the week: Hello, Polly live next door. Polly had argument with old lady about how many crackers Polly got. Polly went too far. - Facebook meme.

- Hookbills and Holiday Guests don't always mix like rum and eggnog. Our friends from the Leather Elves (not the North Pole toymakers, but the Weymouth, MA bird supply company) offer some suggestions. Try some social enrichment. Exposure to new people can sometimes elicit unwanted responses from your birds. Prepare your guests about bird etiquette and what they can expect if they’re new to the avian world. Create simple positive interactions …a whistling contest or sing along…or a simple training session that your bird can nail in a short time. Be sure to talk to your younger guests who may not have a lot of bird knowledge… that youngster may be the next Barbara Heidenreich!

- Parrotrivia: Shirley tries out for a beer tasting job at the Schotz brewery in an episode of "Laverne and Shirley" titled "It's the Water" but a talking parrot complicates the plan.

- Labor of Love: A British Columbia couple have adopted 34 parrots after the closing of a Vancouver parrot refuge. Love unfortunately doesn't pay the rent, nor the costs of some 1/4 million dollars in veterinarian care, and they are looking for help with the funding.

- 2017 Parrot Cruise Preview: The annual event will include the Panama Canal, the World Parrot Trust site in Costa Rica to see scarlet and great green macaws released; and possibly a trip to the Botanical Garden in Grand Cayman where Amazons roost and Colon, Panama. Register now if you've got a lot of green in the bank, and we don't mean green feathers. And no; we can hardly believe that in December we're writing about an event that takes place next November.

- The Parrot Project has been launched by Lara Joseph of the Animal Behavior Center LLC. It is a closed Facebook group livestreaming weekly covering behavior, enrichment and training; including a monthly Q & A. There is a fee to join.

- Have you missed a previous edition of "From the Parrot's beak"? Past issues can be seen on the Facebook page, Pet Bird Owners.

- Hot Dates: 12/14-1/5: 117th Annual Audubon Christmas Countdown. See item above.

12/17-18: Atlanta Pet Expo - Georgia International Convention Center, 2000 Convention Center Concourse, Atlanta, GA- Sat 10-5, Sun 11-4

12/17: The Contented Companion, Phoenix Landing Educational Seminar. Alexander, NC -- Toy Making - 11 am, Volunteer Orientation- 1 pm, Parrot University, 321 South Polk St, Pineville NC

12/18: Parrot 101 -2 pm, Parrot University, 321 South Polk St, Pineville NC

12/24-1/2; : Christmas!: Time to watch those $20-30 toys you bought as gifts for your parrots being destroyed in a day. Bird show/club/event activity pretty much suspended for the next couple of holiday weeks.


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