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From the parrot's beak: true colors edition

Updated on January 21, 2017
G'day, wouldn't you like to see some of my mates in your backyard? - Photo by George Sommers
G'day, wouldn't you like to see some of my mates in your backyard? - Photo by George Sommers

- Webinar May Ruffle Feathers: “The need for legal protections for captive birds cannot be understated," says Denise Kelly, President of the Avian Welfare Coalition. Avian advocacy is the subject of a two part webinar series beginning 1/31 at 1:30. Sounds like a worthy goal, but alarm bells may go off in the heads of certain parrot owners. The 2013 PBS documentary "Parrot Confidential" was widely seen to be highly critical of pet parrot ownership and prominently featured the bane of many American Federation for Aviculture members, Marc Johnson; founder of Foster Parrots in Hope Valley, RI. In fact, shelter and sanctuary representatives will join with experts to address issues involving birds in pet and sanctuary situations as part of the webinar. Part 1 will focus on the role of wildlife sanctuaries in education. Part 2 looks at avian law and expanding legal protections for birds. AFA opposes legislation it sees as restricting the ownership of pet birds.The webinar, in recognition of National Bird Day on 1/5, is the brainchild of the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries.

- The Parrots are always Greener: Some American parrot fans are a little envious of our Aussie friends who get to see wild cockatoos and other parrots; often literally in their backyards. Boston parrot expert Linda Rubin is one of the fortunate Yanks who've gone to Brisbane where she observed rainbow lorikeets. However, she's also hosted avicultural friends from Oz in the States and says, "They were mesmerized by the cardinals, blue jays, and a soaring red-tailed hawk circling overhead while relaxing in my backyard! There's some truth in the lament, 'We always want what we don't have.'"

- Good News in Twos for Blues: At an estimated 250 individuals left in the wild, the blue throated macaw is one of the most endangered parrots - but they just got some good news, thanks to Asociation Armonia (BirdLife Partners in Bolivia). Native Indian dancers in the region use headdresses made with the feathers of 4 different macaw species. Armonia, with the help of National Geographic and Loro Parque, came up with an Alternative Feather Program. Local school children were taught how to make artificial feathers - and the Moxeno people were amenable to the change as they consider themselves to be stewards of the earth. Moreover, the alternative headdresses provide extra income as souvenirs for visitors from the outside who buy and often pose with them next to the natives. -- The blue throated is often confused with the similar but somewhat more common blue and gold macaw, so reports of btm sightings are often met with skepticism. However, a recent report confirmed a population of 15 btms on a small forest island.

- They Should Have Listened to Grandma who insisted she didn't want a pet bird, but they gave her a pet parakeet anyway. Unable or unwilling to care for the bird, its curved beak grew freakishly long and curved back practically piercing the budgie's chin. Fortunately, the budgie was surrendered to a parrot rescue.

- Sacre Bleu and Gold: The Zoo de Doue in Loire Valley, France..features the largest freeflight aviary in Europe- originally a huge quarry pit; dedicated to South American birds including macaws. It is a scenic, natural looking backdrop which protects against high winds.

- Note on "to do" list: Buy a parrot. Teach the parrot to say, “Help, I've been turned into a parrot.”

- Head of the Class: Keas were challenged to reach food in a box in 4 ways : pulling a switch, using a hooked lever to open a window, putting marbles on a runway to knock the food out and inserting a stick to poke the food within reach. One named Kermit aced all 4 tests administered by researchers at the Universities of Vienna and Oxford. Others made very good progress. Wild keas are not known to use tools, and the stick test was particularly difficult as the keas' curved bills make maneuvering a stick difficult. Kermit made 5 position adjustments, using both feet and bill, in order to get his stick into the right position. The researchers believe the birds did not merely stumble upon the solutions randomly, but rather analyzed the situation and chose the most likely path to success.They further theorized that the keas' abilities may shed light on human learning, including language skills. Thanks to zoologist Frank Indiviglio for the update.

- Not to be Confused with Golden Showers which we've heard more than we care to about recently. Loro Parque fundación has achieved great success breeding the golden-shouldered parrot, rarely seen in aviculture out of Australia.

- Attention, Class: The Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is now offering a Bird Essentials class to teach you and your bird about stepping up, handling, clicker training and more, with a focus on building confidence and bonding. They'll also be offering individual Bird Behavior Consults for bird owners interested in working on specific behaviors. Call or go online for more information.

- Hot Dates: 1/21-22: Tim Vogle's Southeastern Exotic Bird Fair - Atlanta State Farmers Market, 16 Forest Pkwy, Forest Park, GA - Sat 9-4, Sun 9-4

1/21: Things I Wish I’d Known class Phoenix Landing, Fairfax, VA -- Parrot University Volunteer Orientation 1 pm, Pineville Towne Market, 321 South Polk St., Suite 2C, Pineville, NC -- ABCs of Behavior class Phoenix Landing, Alexander, NC

1/22: Parrot 101 class - 2 pm Parrot University. Pineville Towne Market, 321 South Polk St., Suite 2C, Pineville, NC

1/24: Talk to the animals, or learn how to with spiritual medium Patti Anastasia and her Advanced Animal Communication Workshop. Just in case you're wondering what your parrot is thinking besides fork over some more of those sunflower seeds. Fee required 630-8. Anastasia's Health Happenings, Boston North Technology Park, 110 Haverhill Road, Bldg C, Suite 348, Amesbury, MA

1/21-22: Tim Vogle's Southeastern Exotic Bird Fair - Atlanta State Farmers Market, 16 Forest Pkwy, Forest Park, GA - Sat 9-4, Sun 9-4

1/27-29: Parrot Festival 2017-Doubletree Hotel Houston Intercontinental Airport, 15747 John F. Kennedy Blvd., Houston, TX -- Lehigh Valley Pet Expo-Ag Hall at Allentown Fairgrounds, 17th and Chew Streets, Allentown, PA -Fri 4-9 pm, Sat 10-7, Sun 10-5 -- World of Pets Expo -Maryland State Fairgrounds, 2200 York Road, Timonium, MD -Fri 2-8, Sat 10-7, Sun 10 -5

1/28: Addressing Screaming for Attention in Companion Parrots; Barbara Heidenreich Webinar. 1 pm

1/29: Avian Health & Wellness class Parrot University -2 pm Pineville Towne Market, 321 South Polk St., Suite 2C, Pineville, NC

1/31: Avian advocacy webinar, outreach and campaigns and the role of captive wildlife sanctuaries in education Part 1. 1:30










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