From the parrot’s beak: 3/10


PHOTO: Don’t worry about me- I’m just playing! Related stories: mystery disease effecting rainbow lorikeets; play and feed the lories at zoo. – Photo by George Sommers

RAINBOW MYSTERY: Over 20 rainbow lorikeets from parts of Queensland, Australia have been turned over for care due to a sudden paralysis.. “It’s like there’s something wrong with their wings,” says Tegan King, head vet nurse at the Proserpine Veterinary Clinic. “They’re holding them down and flat out, but they’re not broken. There’s nothing physically wrong with their wings, but they can’t move them.” President of Fauna Rescue Whitsunday, Jacqui Webb, said a number of the birds the organization has taken into care are also suffering from a number of conditions.”Some are quite lethargic and uncoordinated and their voices sound funny, not like a normal lorikeet screech at all,” Ms Webb said. King suspects that the birds may be effected by something they  ingested and vets say the culprit may be the flowers of the African tulip tree — an invasive pest. There is also some speculation that a recent heat wave and excessive rain may have something to do with it. – From

PARROT REROUTED FROM AIRPORT TAKEOFF: Hugo the female African parrot was spotted and grounded by a firefighter doing a routine safety inspection at Dublin Airport. “A live runway wasn’t a safe place for her so after some difficulty we eventually coaxed her into a makeshift carrier made from a cardboard box,” said rescuer Craig Wade. The airport was contacted by 4 people claiming to be Hugo’s owner; but none of them were able to provide the ID number on her leg band. Lidl Ireland, which oddly enough is a supermarket chain based in Germany, replied to Dublin Airport on Twitter, saying: “Guys this is going to sound unbelievable but there’s a ‘Missing Parrot’ poster in one of our stores. So we called the number to check and it’s his parrot!” it added. Lubomir Michna, who lives in Finglas in Dublin but is originally from Slovakia, was the man behind the poster. He said he could prove that the African grey  was his and he had taught it some Slovak sayings. He sent an audio recording, which was played and “she instantly reacted”, said Dan Donoher, who looked after the pet before the reunion. Hugo had escaped through a door which had been left open in Michna’s house. Donoher said there was “no doubt in my mind that Lubomir was her rightful owner”. “As soon as the carrier opened, Hugo jumped onto Lubomir’s arm and cuddled into his neck,” he added.”You could see they have a really close bond, it was lovely.” – From

LORIKEET LANDING at the San Diego Zoo is an exhibit in which visitors can enter an aviary and feed and interact with 73 lorikeets.
DIDJA KNOW: Very well preserved mummified parrots from 3000 years ago have been found in Egypt.
GOOD (FOR A CHANGE) CONSERVATION NEWS: The Lear’s Macaw is one of the nine species that the Loro Parque Foundation has been able to save from imminent extinction thanks to its funding of conservation projects Six Lear’s macaws born in the Loro Parque Foundation’s facilities and moved last August to Brazil for their reinsertion in nature have already managed to adapt to the harsh conditions of their habitat in the Caatinga and are now flying free in the wild.  The parrot is one of the most important projects of the Foundation, which has managed to move its category on the Red List of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) from ‘critically endangered’ to ‘endangered’. Those last six individuals to arrive in Brazil have spent a period of adaptation in a large aviary based in a natural environment, with plants typical of the ecology of the species and where they have become familiar with the sounds of nature and with the conditions of the area where the Lear’s macaw was previously found.

During this process, the project team had to face several challenges: that the birds could adapt to eating the fruit of the licuri palm – which the species feeds on – at the same speed as other wild birds, given that they were accustomed to a softer meal, or that they stopped drinking water directly from a drinking trough and began to consume that which they obtained from the fruit of the palm trees are just two of them.  However, all were gradually overcome and successfully, whilst they were also trained to increase their cardio-respiratory capacity and to react to sounds of possible predators.  – From

TO FLY OR NOT TO FLY: Wing clipping, free outdoor flight and perch potatoes discussed in “Winging It” in the March
MORE CHILDREN GROWING UP IN ONE PARROT HOUSEHOLDS according to a tongue in cheek article in “The Onion”.


HELP WANTED: Southwick Zoo in Mendon, MA is looking to fill a seasonal position for keeper/attendant in the zoo’s Parakeet Aviary. Parakeet staff are responsible for the basic husbandry of a collection of 100+ parakeets/cockatiels- including diet prep, pressure washing, enrichment making, upkeep and monitoring. They also work alongside other parakeet staff to attend the aviary during zoo hours- including making/selling feed sticks, answering questions, and enforcing rules/monitoring the public. Parakeet staff also have the pleasure of watching precious male cockatiel, Damien, desperately beg for preening from his parakeet friends, only to be rejected and forced to preen himself- although sometimes the parakeets decide to be nice. If interested follow the link attached to the comments in Facebook to apply, or message the zoo for additional information.

HOT DATES: 3/10: Hernando Exotic Bird Club 21st Annual Bird Mart  Surgical; DNA tresting by vet. Raffle hourly. $5/ Under 10 FREE. 9-4. 6436 Broad St. (US Hwy. 41) Brooksville, FL — 3/12: STRANGE AND INTERESTING CASES (hmmmm) are the topic of vet Dr. Kristin Sinclair, guest speaker at The Parrot Club. Also at the meeting will be Dean with some Creative Bird Toys. 6:30.100 Sunset Ridge Drive. East Hartford, CT — 3/15-17: Super Pet Expo  Fri. 3-8, Sat.10-7, Sun. 10-5  –  14320 Chantilly Shopping Center Chantilly, VA 3/16: KEEPING OUT PARROTS FLYING FREE conservation mini-conference. Speakers include Dr. LoraKim Joyner, Emenson Urtecho, Danika Orial-Marway, Dr. Lucy Spelman. Breakfast & lunch provided. Tickets $75. Foster Parrots/New England Wildlife Sanctuary. Contact — 3/17: RARE MUTATION SHOW featured at Tri-State Budgie Society meeting. Potluck supper and soup share. Public welcome. FREE, but please bring soup or food item to share. 2 p.m.  Spotswood Reformed Church, 429 Main St., Spotswood, NJ — Treasure Coast Exotic Bird Club 22nd Exotic Bird Expo  9-4. $5/under 12 FREE. Martin County Fairgrounds, Stuart, FL

LOST: Congo African grey ‘Aura’ ; Lindenhurst, NY . (917) 363-8875.

From the parrot’s beak: 3/24


PHOTO: Spring is a popular time for bird shows and events. Keep up to date in our weekly “HOT DATES” section. – Photo by George Sommers

“WILD PARROTS OF TELEGRAPH HILL” POISONED: They were popularized in a 2003 documentary film. But now, some of the iconic naturalized cherry headed conures (along with a few other parrot species) of San Francisco are sick or dying from bromethalin, a rat poison. Symptoms include ataxia, circling, seizures and tumbling. A study led by the University of Georgia Infectious Disease Laboratory is being funded by Mickaboo Companion Bird Rescue. It is still unclear how the parrots who live primarily in parks but also on busy streets in the San Francisco Bay/Oakland area are being exposed to the poison, but it is feared that people and other free ranging animals could be at risk. Members of the public who come in contact with potentially affected parrots should immediately report the bird and its location to San Francisco Animal Care and Control (415) 554-9400. Poisoned birds should not be handled or harmed but if necessary, a towel can be used to move the bird to a secure box or dog kennel. From

RUSSIAN PARROT SCIENTIST RISKED DEATH as she studied parrot cognition in the early 1900s. The Russian biologist Nadia Hoht did groundbreaking work with macaws including inventing the Match-to-Sample paradigm currently in use by Jennifer Cunha and object discrimination. During the era of Joseph Stalin, many scientists were shot or sent to the Gulag for “wrong thoughts” and many research institutes closed down. Hoht and her husband hid in a museum basement and did their research among the taxidermy collection. They put a statue of a  state approved scientist at the museum’s entrance to deflect unwanted attention. American parrot aficionados are more familiar with Dr. Irene Pepperberg, but Hoht is now celebrated as a brilliant scientist in Russia. – From My Reading Pets: The Learning Adventures of Ellie and Isabelle

PSITTACINE CINEMA: Polly the parrot featured in Jack Benny Program 11 Mar 56 Jack Drives to Palm Springs – YouTube

ILL PALESTINE PARROT GETS ISRAELI HELP: Koki the African grey parrot drank some bleach which burned a hole in his throat. Local veterinarians in the Gaza Strip were not equipped to help and suggested euthanasia. Owner Abdullah Sharaf appealed via Facebook to an animal rights group in central Israel. The group sent a mobile surgery clinic to the Israel-Gaza frontier and successfully treated the bird at the crossing.The rescue was co-ordinated with COGAT, the Israeli defense body responsible for Palestinian civilian affairs. – From

TIPS FOR TALKING: Almost everyone who gets a parrot wants it to talk. Amazons and greys are known for sounding human.  However, some individuals never learn to speak clearly – or at all. This can be very frustrating for the owner. It is possible to encourage silent birds to talk.  Your bird must understand that you want him to talk. Communicating your desires is not a difficult as it might seem. Mimic the sounds that he makes. He makes a sound; you copy it and wait till he repeats it. Reinforce him for copying the sound you made. Encourage him by offering a treat. At this point he will begin to make a connection. if  I repeat the sound my human makes,  then I will get a treat. It is just noise to you but it has instilled the idea of copying the sounds you make. Pay close attention to any recognizable sounds. Are there any obvious vowel sounds or strong consonants? Notice the cadence, the tone. Does the sound your bird is recognizing remind you of any word or phrase that he would normally hear? Your bird may sound like he is saying, “Teeee baadu” Your respond should be “Good! Pretty bird. Pretty bird. “ Your assumptions do not have to be correct. If you are wrong and he is trying to say something else or he is just making a sound, it is a sound he enjoys making. Saying something that sounds similar will make it easier for him to learn to speak. He will be motivated to learn to repeat sounds he likes. Try to teach your bird to say at least three different words or phrases. If your bird learns one word or phrase and continues to repeat it all the time, it will become annoying. “Hi Bob! Hi Bob! Hi Bob!” Is not something you want to hear for hours and hours nonstop. – From International Celebration of Birds

THREE’S COMPANY: Hauturu the kakapo is mom to 3 chicks – likely the first set of kakapo triplets since the late 1800s. She happily accepted a snack of almonds from visiting rangers. – From Kākāpō Recovery


HOPES RAISED FOR KAKA POPULATION in New Zealand’s Abel Tasman National Park of boosting the population. A 2013 survey found only 4 birds – all males. 4 females were released in 2015, and another seven females in the next three years. 25 captive bred birds are scheduled for release this year. Radio transmitters fitted on the released birds indicate that a wild male and captive bred female have already hooked up and produced 4 chicks. Plastic was wrapped around the new family’s tree home to make it difficult for predators to climb. A stoat trapping network covers 95% of the park with the aim of ridding it of the invasive predator responsible for decimating many of the area’s native fauna populations. – From

DARK DAYS MAY BE AHEAD FOR BLACK COCKATOOS:  Australia’s largest cockatoos, the black palms, could be extinct within the next decade unless they are quickly provided with some habitat protection. Their numbers are declining at a rapid rate due to habitat loss from mining and land clearing. On top of that, females only lay one egg every two years and not all of them hatch successfully. They are the only birds known to manufacture and use tools as a musical instrument. Males break off a branch, strip the bark from it and use it as a drumstick to attract the Sheilas. There’s an estimated 2-3000 palm ‘toos in Oz currently listed as vulnerable although some are pushing for them to be classified as endangered. The good news is, the palm cockatoo population remains healthy in Papua, New Guinea. – From

MILK FROM A PARROT?: There is a brand of canned, condensed milk called “Parrot” complete with a picture of a parrot.

THE GHOST AND MR. CHICKEN: “I just walked through the living room. It’s pitch black. Can’t see anything. All of a sudden I hear a very fain voice say, “Hi, chicken!,'” writes one parrot owner.

HOW MANY IS TOO MANY?: An Anchorage, Alaska man died and left 300 cockatiels behind. The birds appeared to be well cared for and lived in an aviary equipped with branches and nesting boxes. They will be kept at two Petco stores and Anchorage Animal Control and Care. Pet birds often outlive their owners and it is recommended that provisions for them should be made in wills. Meanwhile, Lynchburg Va police seized 12 birds and 33 dogs from the property of a woman charged with animal cruelty. The type of birds is unknown except that they were described as small. Also missing are details of the nature of the cruelty charge or conditions the animals were kept in. Some Facebook bird page commenters are skeptical and say the police should not be allowed into homes without a warrant. – From “Anchorage Daily News” and

BLUE THROATED MACAW UPDATE: In the past 12 breeding seasons, 76 chicks have fledged from the Nivo Adoptivo nest box program. to help the rare species clcik here to donate

HOT DATES:  3/23,24: Morgantown Pet Expo  FREE parking Sat. 10-7, Sun. 10-5
The Morgantown Center formerly Mom’s Furniture Mall, Morgantown, PA 
3/23: LARA JOSEPH CO-LECTURES DR. JASON CREAN’S ZOO BIOLOGY AND GENETICS COURSE. Dr. Crean is opening part of this to the public but seating is limited, reservations recommended. The  public presentation is a four-hour workshop covering positive reinforcement training, training, live demonstrations, group interaction and more. 9-1. St. Xavier University. Chicago, IL. — 3/25: HOW TO IDENTIFY A SICK PARROT  with veterinarian Dr. Justine Forbes is the topic at the Hamilton Parrot Club. FREE, but attendees are encouraged to donate to parrots in need of veterinary care c/o Parrot Resource Centre and the Blooming Memory Tree. 7 pm. Dundas Lions Community Centre, 10 Market St. South, Dundas, Ontario, Canada 3/30: Connecticut Parrot Society 12th Annual Featherfest Speakers: 10:30 am – MaryBeth Kaeser, Horizon Wings, a non-profit birds of prey rehab center  “A Case of Mistaken Identity.”  1:30 pm – Karen LaFollett, founder of, award winning author, humorist, and parrot family flock consultant. “What a Relationship Is According to a Parrot – How Our Parrots See the Idea Of Communication, Friendship, and Having Us as Roommates.” Door prizes, teacup auction. 10-5 .Admission $5/FREE for children under 12 and CPS members. Elks Club, 44 Maynard St., Middletown, CT. — THE GREAT FORAGING EXPERIMENT with Robin Shewokis. Admission: $27.50, includes “The Great Foraging Kit” brought to you by The Leather Elves. Parrot University. 1Pm 321 South Polk St. Pineville, NC

FOUND: Macaw in Palm City, FL area. contact Birds on Safari. (772) 692-0294. — LOST: Conure ‘Ari’, Erie PA. (814) 844-1997. —  AT SHELTER: Cockatiel. Male ; yellow and green. FLAPPY – ID#A246295, 7610 Davis Boulevard , Naples, FL 34104, (239) 252-7387




From the parrot’s beak: St. Patrick’s day

St. Pat'sPHOTO: No green to wear on St. Patrick’s? No problem – as long as you have a male eclectus parrot! – Photo by George Sommers

NEW TROUBLES PLAGUE “BIRD TALK”:  No luck of the Irish here. Amid a raft of complaints from subscribers including repetitive editorial content, missing issues and/or receiving damaged magazines comes a rather cryptic press release from the revived “Bird Talk” magazine.  Following is a condensed version of the self described “transparent” notice: “Effective today March 12th, 2019, Parrot Publications (Bird Talk Magazine) has parted with its editorial/managerial staff. Parrot Publications is focused on moving into the future and correcting the errors that have been made with the past few issues of Bird Talk Magazine and creating a top-quality product…  Please believe us when we say, ‘We will make it right’ and are in the process of putting everything back together. Thank You, Parrot Publications”.  The original “BT” was a monthly, which was reduced to an annual, before giving up the ghost completely.  Six years later and several months ago it was brought back to life. Adding to the mystery, the magazine’s buyers and current owners, Pat Sund and Jessica Pineda presumably ARE the editorial/managerial staff.  A message to Pineda went unanswered and Sund’s reply; “I’m creative and had little to do with the day to day operation of the magazine” fails to provide much by way of insight. As noted in “the beak” when the announcement of the revived “BTM” was made; these are difficult times for print publications, particularly start ups.  And perhaps as one outside observer suggests,”There’s a thing about never going into business with your friends.”

PSITTACINE CINEMA DOUBLE FEATURE:  The Irish Parrot Is Hilarious – YouTube     The Incredible Dancing Irish Parrot – YouTube

MUSIC TO THEIR EARS: What music does your parrot like? We suspect that most owners would insist “coincidentally” that it’s the same music THEY like. Lafeber says there’s more to it than that. Studies indicate that some parrots prefer classical music or light pop tunes, while others are more inclined toward more raucous offerings like rock ‘n’ roll. However, the majority of birds seem to dislike a currently popular genre, electronic dance music. Snowball the cockatoo became an Internet sensation dancing to the likes of Backstreet  Boys and Stevie Nicks; leading to a scientific study concluding that parrots are part of a select group of animals who along with humans literally dance, when defined as moving along rhythmically to music.  – From

THEY FORGOT TO JUST SAY “NO”: Indian ringneck parakeets swoop down 30-40 times a day to feed on farmers’ poppy fields, according to the “Boston Globe”. Firecrackers and screaming though loudspeakers have failed scare away the birds, and they’ve even learned to keep from squawking during their raids.

DIDJA KNOW: Of all the parrot species, the hyacinth macaw has the most powerful beak; which comes in handy for breaking the hardest palm nuts – a mainstay of their diet in their native Brazil.

SNOWBALL’S CHANCE FOR POACHERS: World Animal Protection (WAP) monitors social media posts such as Facebook and Instagram to gather information illegal animal trade, including African grey parrots. Their so-called snowball data collection begins with users of a single social media platform known to be involved in illegal wildlife trade. They then track and follow responses including texts, photos and video sources destinations. Out of 259 posts tracked so far, 190 were discovered to have trade in breach of laws and noncompliance with CITES. – From

IT TAKES TWO: The first Spix’s macaw hatched in 2019 was followed 2 days later by its sibling. This will make socializing easier for both chicks and good preparation for potential release in the wild. The announcement was made by the Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots, the subject of controversy from some quarters as reported in previous “beak” editions.

IT’S AS EASY AS AAV: Association of Avian Veterinarians is announcing new and improved education handouts for bird owners including basic care and signs of illness. AAV member veterinarians have access to even more client education handouts – inquire with your avian veterinarian at your next office visit. Take a sneak peek at

LUCKY LEPRECHAUN CONTEST: Go to the King’s Cages Facebook poage and guess the number of King’s items in the Irish themed photo. Deadline is St. Patricks’s Day at midnight. Winners will be contacted Monday.

AND MORE ON THE CONTEST FRONT: DONATE to be entered to WIN one of two beautiful 20 x 30″ canvas prints of Scarlet Macaws by “Birdman Ray” Varella! Help MAX out the MATCH by April 15 (Laney’s birthday) to the Laney Rickman BTM Fund! TWO lucky winners; drawing limited to 1st 100 donors! See American Bird Conservancy page for details.


HOT DATES: 3/15-17: Super Pet Expo  Fri. 3-8, Sat.10-7, Sun. 10-5  –  14320 Chantilly Shopping Center Chantilly, VA 3/16-18: Oasis Sanctuary Spring Online Auction  All proceeds will go directly to the support and care of the Birds of The Oasis. The Spring Online Auction features mostly parrot themed items including books, art, clothing, jewelry and housewares. — 3/16: KEEPING OUR PARROTS FLYING FREE conservation mini-conference. Speakers include Dr. LoraKim Joyner, Emenson Urtecho, Danika Orial-Marway, Dr. Lucy Spelman. Breakfast & lunch provided. Tickets $75. Foster Parrots/New England Wildlife Sanctuary. Contact RARE MUTATION SHOW featured at Tri-State Budgie Society meeting. Potluck supper and soup share. Public welcome. FREE, but please bring soup or food item to share. 2 p.m.  Spotswood Reformed Church, 429 Main St., Spotswood, NJ — Treasure Coast Exotic Bird Club 22nd Exotic Bird Expo  9-4. $5/under 12 FREE. Martin County Fairgrounds, Stuart, FL.  — 3/20: REPRODUCTION AND EGG LAYING are the topics for guest speaker Dr. Rosa Banuelos intern with Long Island Birds and Exotics Veterinary Clinic At Long Island Parrot Society meeting. Food and toy vendors will also be available. Nonmembers welcome; but do not bring birds. 6:30. American Legion, 22 Grove Pl., Babylon, NY —3/23,24: Morgantown Pet Expo  –  Sat. 10-7; Sun. 10-5. Adults online $8; at door $10/4-12 online $4; at door $5/3 and under FREE. The Morgantown Center, 6180 Morgantown Rd., Morgantown, PA — 3/23: LARA JOSEPH CO-LECTURES DR. JASON CREAN’S ZOO BIOLOGY AND GENETICS COURSE. Dr. Crean is opening part of this to the public but seating is limited, reservations recommended. The part that is opened to the public will be a four-hour workshop covering positive reinforcement training, key elements in training, live demonstrations, group interaction, and more. 9-1. St. Xavier University. Chicago, IL.





From the parrot’s beak: March 3

scar mac

PHOTO: Scarlet macaw populations are now rated as threatened to endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Some say the classification does more harm than good. See related story. – Photo by George Sommers

COCKATOOS GONE BAD: On 7/3/18, Australia’s Xavier College said goodbye to a beloved Canary Island Date Palm that has stood at an entrance  for more than 110 years. The palm sustained damage from large flocks of sulphur-crested cockatoos and correllas who have continuously torn into the top canopy. Protective measures were put in place to limit the birds’ access to the canopy and the upper areas of the trunk. Unfortunately, the birds also managed to breach these barriers and continued to damage the tree. The destruction eventually became too great for the palm to regenerate and it began to die, meaning the palm had to be removed for safety reasons. – From Facebook

CELEBRITY PARROT OBIT: Douglas, a male scarlet macaw, died of old age while resting on the arm of Matthias Reinschmidt, director of Germany’s Karlsruhe Zoo. Douglas played the female role of Rosalinda, part of a pirate gang who capture Pippi’s father in the 1970 film “Pippi in the South Seas”.  Douglas had an earlier brush with death after his movie stardom. In 2003,  authorities decided that he would have to be put down, for lack of the paperwork proving  legal importation from Brazil. 50,000 people – including Pippi Longstocking actress Inger Nilsson – signed a petition to spare his life. A former owner was able to prove that Douglas was a legal immigrant, and he lived to fly another day. – From

PSITTACINE CINEMA: Reggae Rasta Exotic birds dancing on Bob Marley ‘s 3 little …

JURASSIC PARROT:  Oakland University researchers led an international effort to map and analyze the DNA of three Amazon parrot species; the Puerto Rican parrot, Cuban parrot and Hispaniolan parrot, with the goal of preserving the birds from extinction.  All three  are under threats, including habitat loss and illegal trading. In the study, researchers used advanced molecular biology and computational techniques to create detailed genome maps. The maps were used to reconstruct the recent history of each species and calculate remaining levels of genetic diversity. Scientists have noted that a diverse gene pool is vital to the adaptation and survival of a species. – Read more at:

GUESS WHO SAID: “For some reason parrots have to bite me. That’s their job. I don’t know why that is. They’ve nearly torn my nose off. I’ve had some really bad parrot bites.” The late Steve Irwin, who was much more comfortable with huge crocodiles!

SCARLET LETTER: One of the gaudiest, loudest and best known parrot species – the scarlet macaw has just been added to the Endangered Species Act list; making it illegal; to own in 30 states. Ironically, the move is unpopular among parrot enthusiasts who say the ruling throws up road blocks to domestic breeding, potentially reducing numbers even further.

MY PARROT IS SMARTER THAN YOUR HONOR STUDENT or at least the average 5 year old human child. From Dr. Irene Pepperberg’s lab comes a classic study uses a two-cup test. A reward is hidden in one of two cups; subjects are then shown that one cup is empty, and those that successfully choose the other cup are thought to employ a process known as “inference by exclusion”. “This is really about logic,” Pepperberg said. “In the wild, nonhumans must make these kinds of choices when they decide on things like, ‘Where should I forage? I saw other creatures eating food in this area. … If there’s nothing right here, I should deduce that something is nearby.’” In the more complex  three-cup test, one reward is hidden in a single cup, and another is placed in one of two additional cups to one side of the first. When faced with a choice, participants should pick the single cup, as it is the only cup guaranteed to have a reward. This task doesn’t test inference by exclusion, but does test understanding of certainty versus mere possibility — a precursor to exclusion. Tests have shown that, until they reach about 2 and a half years old, young children fail at similar tasks. The same goes for apes. But Griffin the African grey parrot outperformed even 5-year-olds. – From


HORRORS OF POACHING: Lure birds are used to trap African grey parrots into large nets or glue covered branches. Poachers use machetes to crudely cut the flight feathers of captured birds. Up to 21% of wild African greys are seized from the wild annually to supply the illegal wildlife trade. While CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna) has virtually halted the importation of wild parrots into the USA and many other countries, not every nation has signed the treaty and poaching continues.

THE THRILL THAT’LL HIT YA when you get a full page picture and an article in “Woman’s Day”. Coco the caique is featured along with a parrot sized drum set, artist canvas, jeep and more.

GREEN TO BLUE: The Laney Rickman Blue Throated Macaw Fund is nearing a $100,000 goal to reach a maximum pledge by April 15, the late Rickman’s birthday. To donate and for more info:

PARROTRIVIA: There is a black skinned parrot snake and a green parrot snake.

TO FLY OR NOT TO FLY: Is your bird wing clipped, a perch potato or free to roam the skies outside and (hopefully) return? The surprisingly controversial topic of pet bird flight explored in the April ’19 “Pet Gazette” Page 8 article.

ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT: Since purchasing and moving into their new facility in 2009, Midwest Avian Adoption & Rescue Services (MAARS) has made tremendous strides towards improving the sanctuary including lighting upgrades that are close to full spectrum; room remodeling that improves flock care and facility operations;
new windows and flooring. Now in their 20th year MAARS is  calling on  supporters to help and has an Anonymous MATCHING DONOR for up to $10,000. They must  raise the $10,000 in order to receive the funds. — Meanwhile, Bird Gardens of Naples hopes to construct 5 new flight cages/aviaries to make room for new birds that are of need of a place to call home. They are asking for assistance from the online community. Home Depot and Lowe’s gift cards are welcome. Checks and supplies can be sent to: Bird Gardens of Naples – 1060 Purple Martin Dr. – Naples, FL 34120  Call (813) 841-1911 if you have any questions.

“THE 25 SHOCKING PEOPLE OF WALMART” on social media included someone toting a blue & gold macaw through one of the chain stores. Not so shocking to most readers of this column!

MAILBAG: Kathy H. writes in response to last week’s “beak” article on ACTP: ” Are you aware that the former Blue Macaw director from Al Wabra In Qatar, Cromwell Purchase, is now in Germany working with his birds at ACTP? And that work at the facility in Brazil continues? If Australia were more hands-on, rather than “other officials stated that no department representative had ever visited the organization’s facility and that they had not made inquiries,” perhaps they’d have their answers. Why are you so keen to discredit ACTP, anyway? Such negativity makes no sense to me. “Beak” editor responds: The item was condensed from and includes a link to the original article from Australia’s “The Guardian”. We have in the past had pieces on ACTP’s commendable work with Spix’s macaws and more, and will publicize any response the group has to the issues raised. However, this is not the first time that government officials of a foreign nation have accused the organization of unorthodox practices. For more on the questions raised by “The Guardian”, go to Feathers’ Sheldon Orloff notes that the Long Island Parrot Society is Oct. 5, not 10/6 as reported in error in early editions of last week’s “From the parrot’s beak”. In addition the storewide sale at Bird Paradise begins on Friday, Oct. 11 although all other Parrot Palooza special events  begin Sat. 10/12 and run through Mon. 10/14.


HOT DATES:  3/2-3: Long Island Pet Expo  Members and their birds from Long Island Parrot Society will be represented. Sat. 10-7; Sun. 10-5. 3 & Under FREE/Adults $11 online, $13 st door/ Children 4-12 $5 online, $6 at door/ Weekend Pass: Adult $18, Child $8. Brentwood Campus of Suffolk Community College, 1001 Crooked Hill Road  in Brentwood (Health & Exposition Center). —Southeast Exotic Bird Fair –Sat. & Sun. 9 am- 4 pm Admission Adults $4.00 children 16 & under Free. 16 Forest Pkwy Forest Park, GA — 3/2: BC SPACA  3rd Therapy Animal Expo hosted by the University of North Florida.  Representatives from many of the local therapy animal programs, pet related businesses and therapy animal registering organizations. — 3/10: Hernando Exotic Bird Club 21st Annual Bird Mart  Surgical; DNA tresting by vet. Raffle hourly. $5/ Under 10 FREE. 9-4. 6436 Broad St. (US Hwy. 41) Brooksville, FL — 3/12: STRANGE AND INTERESTING CASES (hmmmm) are the topic of vet Dr. Kristin Sinclair, guest speaker at The Parrot Club. Also at the meeting will be Dean with some Creative Bird Toys. 6:30.100 Sunset Ridge Drive. East Hartford, CT

LOST: Congo African grey. ‘Baby’. Etobicoke, Ont., Canada. Reward offered. (647) 880-9654 — FOUND: Congo African grey parrot. San Diego, CA. Banded. (619) 218-7331 — TEXT ONLY — FOUND: Sun conure. Boca Raton, FL. (561) 883-0739.


From the parrot’s beak: 2/24

black too

PHOTO: It’s not all black and white. Even rarer than the black cockatoo (on left) are the leucistic, or yellow highlighted, cockatoos recently seen in the wild in Australia. See related story. – Photo by George Sommers

SCAM ARTISTS OR MISUNDERSTOOD NICE GUYS: The Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots (ACTP) is best known for its work in helping to replenish rare parrot populations. But in an odd twist, Australia’s government questions the whereabouts of some rare Aussie parrots entrusted to the organization, after warnings that the birds could be sold to collectors, among multiple allegations  dating back to 2016. Private messages on social media show Australian birds apparently from ACTP have been offered for sale for hundreds of thousands of dollars. The German federal agency for nature conservation has said it was aware of those offers. In addition, Guardian Australia’s investigation found the department had issued permits for 232 birds over three years to be used for exhibition purposes, as in a zoo. But ACTP has no facilities that are freely open to the public. ACTP is headed up by a convicted kidnapper and extortionist. One Australian government official said there was not enough evidence to confirm the complaints, and nothing to prevent the department from continuing to issue permits to exporters sending animals to ACTP.  But other officials stated that no department representative had ever visited the organization’s facility and that they had not made inquiries as to whether more than 200 birds exported to ACTP since 2015 were still there. The question remains: is ACPT savior or scam artist – or maybe a bit of both?   – From

PARROTRIVIA: A female eclectus puts “Henry Danger” in danger of exposing his secret on the Nickelodeon kids’ program.

DUELING BIRD SHOWS: There are only so many bird fanciers (and bird fanciers’ dollars) to go around.  In the past, some of these show’s organizers would schedule shows on the same dates, but this year, organizers finally seem to be “getting it”. Last year, the Western MA Bird Expo and the Birds of a Feather show in New Hampshire  were scheduled for the same date, despite the fact that there is some geographical overlap of bird owners. This year, the Western MA event is April 6 and the BOAF event is the following week, April 13. Moreover, two of the biggest East Coast events, the Long Island Parrot Society Parrot Expo and Parrot Palooza in New Jersey have both been scheduled on Columbus Day weekend for the past several years. This year, the Long Island event is on October 5 while Palooza retains its traditional Columbus Day weekend schedule, 10/11-14  (Friday the 11th starts a weekend storewide sale, additional special events run Sat.-Mon.).

A PARROT, A DEER, 2 SHEEP AND A GOAT ARE PASSENGERS IN AN ENGLISHMAN’S 4X4: No, not the set up for a joke. For story and photos: Video: Driver is spotted with two sheep, a parrot, a deer and a goat …

DIDJA KNOW: Japanese helicopters are a breed of budgies with ruffled looking feathers on their upper back.

YELLOW IS THE NEW BLACK: Two and possibly three yellow feathered mutations of red tailed black cockatoos have been spotted in the wild in Australia, generating excitement among bird watchers. One that has been photographed has a mostly yellow head with other yellow highlights. These birds of a different color are thought to be leucistic, which like the more well known albinism causes them to have different than normal coloration. – From

PSITTACINE CINEMA: Alex The Honking Bird – YouTube

FREE FLYING COMES AT A COST: Zazu the green winged macaw went missing while free flying in Lucama, NC. Ironically, she belongs to one of the most avid and long time practitioners of free flight, Lewis “Buddy” Waskey.  Zazu, who is leg banded and microchipped, was recovered a few days later. The finder turned down a $5000 reward. This follows an incident earlier this year in which a hunter in Belgium shot and killed another free flying macaw. Free flying is a spectacular sight to see, but has its risks.

FIRED UP: 3 of the 5 western ground parrots fitted with transmitters have been located alive after the fire at Cape Arid National Park, Australia. One bird had travelled quite a distance. #SavingKyloring

BAD BUSINESS: A dead parakeet in a dirty cage lacking adequate food and water prompted Ramona Wise to report the poor conditions in a La Plata, MD Petco to a local news station.  The store manager gave them contact info for corporate headquarters but refused to let the news crew film in the store or even see the cage in question. Wise, who did take photos, posted them on social media and the police conducted an investigation. The police chief reported that the situation had apparently been improved. Wise, on a subsequent visit, also noticed that conditions for the birds were better. “It’s a corporate business, I get it, things fall though the crack with them,” she said. “But if you’re going to work at a pet store you should care about animals, and if you care about animals, they wouldn’t be sitting there in that condition.” – From

STYLISH: The March issue of “InStyle” features model Brie Larson with a blue Indian ringneck on her shoulder.

BUSTED: Turkish Airlines had the dubious distinction of being “the poachers’ airline of choice” according to  U.K. based World Animal Protection. Smugglers would fly their black market cargo from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to countries in the Middle East and parts of Asia. To their credit, when they were called on the issue; Turkish Airlines on Feb. 13 issued a global embargo on the transportation of African grey parrots on any of its planes. The bad news: Turkish Airlines was just one of “a number of airlines” under investigation. – From

A PANDEMONIUM OF PARROTS: Many of the 13 documented species of naturalized  parrots in California live in San Diego County. “Seeing how their population is doing – are they staying stable?  What’s going on with them as far as being here in a very urban environment that’s different from where they naturally come from,” asks University of San Diego Biology Instructor Dr. Janel Ortiz, who is launching a study to monitor them.  – From

FUNNY LIKE A CLOWN? DO I AMUSE YOU?: King’s Cages is sponsoring a funny bird contest. Send a photo or video of your bird doing something funny. Winner will receive $150 in King’s credit and all entrants receive 10% off their next purchase.You can submit your entry to the King’s Facebook page or email Contest ends 2/28. For more info:

HOT DATES:  3/2-3: Long Island Pet Expo  Members and their birds from Long Island Parrot Society will be represented. Sat. 10-7; Sun. 10-5. 3 & Under FREE/Adults $11 online, $13 st door/ Children 4-12 $5 online, $6 at door/ Weekend Pass: Adult $18, Child $8. Brentwood Campus of Suffolk Community College, 1001 Crooked Hill Road  in Brentwood (Health & Exposition Center). — Southeast Exotic Bird Fair –Sat. & Sun. 9 am- 4 pm Admission Adults $4.00 children 16 & under Free. 16 Forest Pkwy Forest Park, GA — 3/2: BC SPACA  3rd Therapy Animal Expo hosted by the University of North Florida.  Representatives from many of the local therapy animal programs, pet related businesses and therapy animal registering organizations.

STOLEN: White capped pionus ‘Levi’; also grey Persian cat ‘Ashes’ from Diane’s Pet Center, St. Lawrence PA. Anyone with information is urged to contact the Central Berks Regional Police — LOST: Male cockatiel ‘Jet’, Oyster Bay, NY. (516) 319-0495. — FOUND: Cockatiel, yellow and grey. Currently at the shelter, Kennel # CAT11-BIRD, Martinez, CA. Phone: (925) 608-8400; Fax: (925) 335-8303 — LOST: Congo African grey parrot ‘Izzy’. Waipahu, Oahu, HI Reward offered. (808) 772-6373/81-5545




From the parrot’s beak: 2/17


PHOTO:  What makes the rosella parakeet and other parrots so colorful? Researchers may have the answer. See story below. – Photo by George Sommers

RETURN OF THE PRODIGAL PARROTS: Germany’s Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots has a controversial history. Some describe its acquisitions of rare parrots as shady or even illegal and its facility as an inaccessible private zoo. Still, you can’t argue with successes, and ACTP has a few under its belt. The organization took over the captive breeding efforts of the extinct in the wild Spix’s macaw after the founding sheik of El Wabra died and that organization closed shop. Currently, ACTP is preparing the permits for a breeding and release project in Brazil. Construction has begun on the facility and veterinary and other staff are being recruited. On another front, for the first time in 40 years, some St. Vincent Amazon parrots will return to their native country. The two male birds were born and under the care of ACTP. Based on a 2010 census, current wild St. Vincents are thought to number around 850-900, a healthy increase from the estimated 400 in the early ’80s; but still a far cry from the 3000 or so in the ’60s and ’70s. Hurricanes in recent years have been blamed for setbacks in the population’s recovery. From and an ACTP news release

PSITTACINE CINEMA: Chanel dances with Kashmir

DRONES AS SEX AIDS: Pity the poor kakapo. Can’t fly, nearly wiped out by introduced predators, less than 200 left in the world and with a breeding success rate of less than fifty percent. One male became a worldwide laughingstock when he was captured on video “shagging” a human’s head. Moreover, other males have become more imprinted on humans than females of their own species leading researchers to create helmets for humans to wear for the guy kakapos to do their thing on, collecting the results for artificial insemination. Volunteers, anyone? Now help is on the way as drones are being employed to carry kakapo semen to different parts of Codfish Island, taking a few minutes rather than the several hours it would take rangers to trudge across the island hand carrying the cargo. See related kakapo story below.  – From


ONE WOMAN’S DAY WITH HER PARROTS: On an average day, one of Jennifer Cunha’s parrots gets to choose the group’s breakfast. The second picks the music- dance, baroque, romantic, guitar, beach or piano. The third parrot gets to choose the first daily activity: shower, playing outside or learning. Most days, Cunha asks the birds what they want to study – math, music, vocabulary or reading. In the evening, they all play cards and then watch cartoons.

BLACK HAWK DOWN: A series of dramatic photos on the Net show a group of over 20 macaws teaming up to chase away a juvenile black hawk in Sierpe, Costa Rica.

TRUE COLORS: Why are parrots so colorful? In most bird species, brown and black feather colors are composed of melanin, and the orange, yellow, and red ones are derived from carotenoid pigments in the diet. Parrots, on the other hand, generate their own bright colors, with a unique pigment system based upon compounds dubbed psittacofulvins, named after Psittacidae, the parrot family. A new study reveals that variation in feather color in the iconic Australian rosella, is actually environmental – driven by habitat background and temperature. Crimson rosellas range from bright crimson in the mountainous areas and coast, to a pale yellow in the open woodlands in the north of Victoria. There is also an intermediate orange form in the Adelaide region of South Australia. Color variation within a species may be explained by a biogeographic principle known as Gloger’s rule, which suggests that the more humid the environment, the darker the color of the animal. Researchers found that mean annual rainfall, earth surface reflectance and mean daily maximum temperature in summer all strongly predict yellow-red color variation in the species. The red form is darker, with less reflectance, and is found in wetter environments, while light yellow rosellas are found in hotter, more arid environments. The researchers also found a positive link between the background hues of the dominant vegetation of a region and the parrots’ feather color. – From

QUOTE O’ THE WEEK: My birds are the reason I get up early in the morning. Really freakin’ early. Every. Single. Morning.

THE SADDEST PARROT STORY. PERIOD: “Last week Matt LeBlanc admitted he was so poor before he got the part of Joey in ‘Friends’, he couldn’t afford to go to the dentist – and that he filed his own teeth! Now, I’m not one to steal his thunder, but I’ve got a tale of my own from a time I was dirt poor. When I was a teenager, I started my period, but couldn’t afford tampons. At the time I had an African parrot called Alfie and I sold him for £50 to Slippery Sid, who lived round the corner. I got my Tampax, but never did hear what became of poor old Alf!” writes Brit celeb former Atomic Kitten singer Kerry Katona. – From

THE GOOD PROBLEM: Once upon a time, it was OK in NZ to be a flightless parrot. The kakapo had no predators to fear – until humans arrived with dogs, stoats and other beasts that found the birds to be a large, delicious feast. The eventual solution was to move the birds off the mainland to islands free of introduced predators. Although their overall number of 147 is still perilously low, a record number of chicks are expected to hatch this year. As of 2/8, 151 eggs have been laid, and it’s not over yet. This compares to 2016, when 122 eggs were laid the entire season. The good news/bad news is where to put all the expected arrivals; so rangers are eyeing new prospective predator free islands; and even considering relocating some to the mainland.  – From

DUMB IDEA: It was reported that an owner let his lovebird go free in New York because his mate died. Like most parrot species, lovebirds are not likely to survive winters in the northeast USA.

FIRE DISASTER: A fire at Delorce’s Bird Barn in Awendaw, South Carolina caused the death of 82-100 birds. 100 birds survived; some of them having been moved to outside cages in time. At least 20  birds escaped. The owner has been raising hand fed birds, including macaws and conures, for over 30 years.  – From

GOOD SAMARITANS WANTED: Victor Vasquez, the Bird Man, was beaten and one of his beloved cockatoos killed in San Diego, CA; as reported in this column last week. Now he is afraid to leave his apartment and volunteers are being sought to guard him and his apartment and transport him to a doctor, etc. For info, go to… Also, a a Go Fund Me account is being set up on his behalf.…

HOT DATES:  2/15-17: World of Pets Expo featuring Jesse “Bird Whisperer” James, pet talent and fashion contests, workshops. $10 adults/$5; 5-12/ FREE under 5. Fri. 2-8, Sat. 10-7, Sun. 10-5. Hampton Roads Convention Center (by the Coliseum), 1610 Coliseum Drive, Hampton, VA — 2/16-18: TROPICAL NEW ENGLAND A fun respite from winter focusing on tropical animals and plants. Weather permitting, members of Connecticut’s The Parrot Club will be on hand  with their birds, including Rosie the rose breasted cockatoo. It is advised that birds in attendance be flight free, or restrained with a harness. Bird bearing participants will get a free pass to one of the Museum’s spring OC Marsh lectures and receptions. The event runs Sat. 2/16 from 10-4, Sun, 2/17 from 12-4 and Mon. 2/18 (Presidents’ Day) 10-4.— 2/16: PARROT UNIVERSITY VOLUNTEER ORIENTATION. 1 p.m., 321 South Polk St., Pineville, NC —2/18: DRS. FOSTER & SMITH bird care products final day (Postponed from 2/12.) Line was bought by Petco and will be discontinued.

LOST: Two macaws while freeflying near the Biosphere 2 in Tucson, AZ They are mostly green with orange under their wings. They won’t usually go to strangers. Ownership can be proven.  (919) 827-2609


From the parrot’s beak: 2/10/19 edition

i love

PHOTO: OK, but no smooching. – Photo by George Sommers

BICYCLIST RESCUES LOST MACAW: Delilah the blue & gold macaw went MIA for three days after a free flying adventure in Utah. She was found by a cyclist who pedaled with the bird on her shoulder for miles from the top of Porcupine Ridge to her workplace in Moab. Delilah was ID’ed with a microchip and returned to her owner. While this episode had a happy ending, along with the shooting by a hunter of the freeflying blue & gold Rambo; it’s a reminder of the potential hazards of freeflying.

BIRDMAN ASSAULTED; ‘TOO KILLED: He was occasionally homeless; was HIV positive and also suffered PTSD, but his three birds brought joy to his life.  Victor Vasquez, “The Bird Man of East Village” in San Diego was known for his three tiered backpacks carrying Ginger the Goffin’s cockatoo, Coocoobery the red lored Amazon and his favorite; Sydney the sulfur crested cockatoo. After returning a DVD, he was assaulted in an unprovoked attack by a male and female, each appearing to be about 18 years old. During the fracas, two of the birds got loose and Sydney flew into the path of an oncoming trolley and was killed. Ginger flew into a tree.  Vasquez was able to recover Ginger and still has Coocooberry. Of Sydney, Vasquexz says, “He gave me so much. That’s what I have to hold on to. He was so intelligent. He loved to be held and praised. Sydney was my best friend.” Anyone with information about the incident can call Crime Stoppers at (619) 235-8477 and refer to case number 19004063. – From

EVEN IF YOUR BIRD IS YOUR VALENTINE resist the urge to kiss your bird, especially on the lips – errrr beak.  Kissing or sharing food with birds that has human germs on it can make the bird sick. Human bacteria is different from that of birds. Hollywood style “air kisses” are recommended; as is making pet birds their own little plate of what they want you top share from your dinner. Chocolate, avocado, caffeine and alcohol are toxic to birds and anything greasy, salty or sugary  should only be given in tiny amounts, if at all. Never give them “human” food that you wouldn’t feel safe eating yourself: that has been sitting out too long or not properly cooked and stored. – From Burge Bird Services
DOCTOR IS STILL IN THE HOUSE: Brief reprieve for purchasers of Drs. Foster & Smith pet care products as they’ve postponed their closing from 2/12 to 2/18. Their web site and promotional emails say that you can get a 15% discount through February 11th on regular priced, sale, and clearance items if you use promo code 4USAVE15 during checkout.  (The fine print reads “Excludes prescription items, dog & cat foods, flea & tick control, and items with manufacturer-set pricing”.)
BREED ALL ABOUT IT: Breeders of many of the parrot species favored as pets catch flak from proponents of adoption (as opposed to retail purchase); laws ironically enacted to protect endangered species and some animal rights activists. One hobbyist laments that African greys, red tail black cockatoos, umbrella cockatoos, sun conures, Spix macaws,  Lears macaws, chattering lories, Puerto Rican parrots, keas and others are extinct in the wild or on the way to being there – implying that domestic breeding may be the only way to save them.
PSITTACINE CINEMA: One lovebird isn’t having a great Valentine’s time in the classic 1945 cartoon. Life with Feathers | Looney Tunes Wiki | FANDOM powered by Wikia –
I COFFEE BREAK FOR PARROTS:  Fair trade coffee from Ray Varella benefits Laney Rickman ‘s blue-throated macaw program. The Bird Endowment
MORE GOOD (FOR A CHANGE) CONSERVATION NEWS: Fundacion de Conservacion Jocotoco, has discovered the first nests of the Endangered Lilacine Amazon in the Las Balsas Valley region, western Ecuador. Little of this species’ habitat is currently protected. – From American Bird Conservancy
ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST: Feathered Haven Parrot Rescue, in Smith’s Falls, Ottawa, Canada; has closed. Bylaw officials visited the rescue after neighbors complained about the noise from the 20 birds, mostly parrots, in residence. Local zoning laws limit 4 animals per dwelling and do not allow for home based rescues in residential areas.  Founder Jill Woods was given a 60 day grace period which expired on 1/4. Woods is still trying to rehome the remaining birds in her care. She can be contacted at (613) 283-7124.From

MACAW: “REPEAT AFTER ME, BE MY VALENTINE” depicted on a Russsell Stover candy box that a couple of sharp eyed parrot fans scored.


DIDJA KNOW: Birds are immune to spicy chili peppers. Birds lack the receptors to detect the chemical Capsaican which makes the spiciness. Birds also swallow and pass the seeds whole.  #funfactfriday #thatsaspicymeatball 

BONUS PSITTACINE CINEMA: Psychic parrot predicts Super Bowl winner – YouTube

TV NOTES: A recent episode of the syndicated “Get Wild” focused on macaws and conservation efforts.

 $4. FREE/16 and under. National Guard Armory, 9900 Normandy Blvd. Jacksonville, FL.— 2/16-18: TROPICAL NEW ENGLAND A fun respite from winter focusing on tropical animals and plants. Weather permitting, members of Connecticut’s The Parrot Club will be on hand  with their birds, including Rosie the rose breasted cockatoo. It is advised that birds in attendance be flight free, or restrained with a harness. Bird bearing participants will get a free pass to one of the Museum’s spring OC Marsh lectures and receptions. The event runs Sat. 2/16 from 10-4, Sun, 2/17 from 12-4 and Mon. 2/18 (Presidents’ Day) 10-4.—2/18: DRS. FOSTER & SMITH bird care products final day (Postponed from 2/12.) Line was bought by Petco and will be discontinued.

LOST:African grey ‘Taffie’, Phoenix, AZ.. May have been stolen and then sold at a Quik-Trip on Cave Creek and Bell. Contact (602) 783-5683. — LOST: Congo African grey, ‘Mike’, 1/29/19, Gresham, OR (503) 421-4338


From the parrot’s beak: 2/3/19


PHOTO: WTH? A helmet? – Photo by George Sommers

KAKAPO EJACULATION HELMET:  (Yes, you read that right.) Sirocco the kakapo became a video star when he attempted to “shag”  zoologist Mark Carwadine’s head during filming of a BBC documentary. And it turns out Siorocco has developed a preference for human heads over females of his own species – not good news for the less than 160 kakapos remaining on earth. The folk at the Kākāpō Recovery Program explain: “As a result of the intensive hand-raising and lack of kākāpō company, he had been imprinted on humans. So, someone came up with the idea of  a dimpled latex kākāpō ejaculation helmet. “The helmet was part of trying to make use of these over-sexed males and seeing if they could get them to leave their semen on the helmet,” says Te Papa’s Vertebrates Curator Colin Miskelly. There was a time when kakapos were a common sight in New Zealand – you could shake trees and out they fell – but they became a staple of the Māori diet and then suffered further when Europeans arrived with stoats and weasels. Sirocco disappeared in 2016 when his transmitter failed, but was discovered live and well several months later. The success of this “crazy idea that just might work”  is so far undetermined; not to mention who will volunteer to wear the helmet. – From

SNOWBALL UPDATE: Handler Irena Shultz recently submitted a scientific paper on Snowball the cockatoo for publication. Although the celebrity ‘too is famed for his dancing abilities, he rarely addresses his handler by name – until recently; when Snowball yelled out “Ireeeeeena” several times. Schultz reports being freaked out and speechless “Not just because he called out my name for the first time in twelve years, but he did it in a voice that closely resembles a possessed Linda Blair in ‘The Exorcist.'” Snowball was included in a highlight segment from “CBS Sunday Morning News”. View it here: Snowball on the CBS Sunday Morning News Show – YouTube

GROUND PARROT DAY: Ground Hog Day started in Germany. Badgers were actually considered the long term weather prognosticators. The tradition was brought to America by the Pennsylvania Dutch (actually Germans) but since badgers are scarce, ground hogs, or woodchucks, were given the role. The Patagonian conure is also known as the burrowing parrot and might be considered a reasonable facsimile in parts of South America lacking ground hogs or badgers!

PARROT LEGALS: Quaker parrots are illegal to own or sell in California, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Hawaii, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Wyoming. In Connecticut, they are legal to own but you can’t sell or breed them. In New York and Virginia, quakers can be owned but must be registered by the state. The adaptable quaker can survive wintry conditions and is feared by some as a potential agricultural pest

THE BIRD BEAT: A “Boston Globe” reporter owns a parrot who says”I’m going to change my clothes. I have to go to work.”  OK, so where’s that paycheck?

BACK TO SCHOOL: The Parrot Project at the Animal Behavior Center, LLC is described by Lara Joseph as “brain candy for the avian junkie wanting to know and do better with the parrots (and some other species) in their care.” Members include zoos, rescues, rehabbers, stores, parrot owners and would be parrot owners. Lessons cover training, behavior modification and enrichment. The program includes live streams, Q & A’s, interviews with field professionals and Foraging Fridays.

PARROTRIVIA: When Leave it to Beaver”‘s Eddie Haskell takes an unscheduled break from his job to schmooze with friends, his pet shop owner boss orders him back in to clean the parakeets’ cages.

WHAT’S SO FUNNY?: Parrot jokes and riddles; parrots in comedy TV and movie roles in MORE  parrot humor; February ’19 “Pet Gazette” Page 8 feature story. duxburypetgazette

DANKE: Gesundheitol , from Europe, is a health oil including herbs for birds.

OBITS: Founder Richard King of King’s Cages passed away on Thursday January 31st. Also recently passing was Neil Padron, founder of Petland Discounts

CONSERVATION CONVERSATIONS: Good conservation news is rare these days, but not extinct. The turquoise parrot, native to Australia; was seemingly doomed as it was a popular ingredient in meat pies and forests were cleared for cattle farming. The turquoise was thought to have gone the way of the dodo by 1915 – until they reappeared in the ’30s. Today, habitat restoration efforts are underway and the bird is listed as “least concern”. Also making a Lazarus like return from presumed extinction is Colombia’s yellow eared parrot. Loss of habitat, including the birds’ preferred Quindio palm; was again the culprit. It was thought to be extinct by 1999 until a population of 81 was discovered. With education and habitat restoration, they have moved from extinct to critically endangered to today; endangered. Only 70 Lear’s macaws were known to exist in the late ’80s. Although still  endangered, the population of mature Lears now numbers from 250 to perhaps 999. The Ministry of Environment of Angola (MINAMB), the International Environmental Law Project (IELP), the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Wildlife Impact and the World Parrot Trust (WPT) recently held a series of training workshops in Angola for rangers protecting African grey parrots and other species. In addition, a new rehabilitation aviary financed by the WPT was constructed for birds seized from black market traders. The threatened grey breasted parakeet experienced a boom breeding year in 2018 thanks to Brazilian NGO Aquisis and the Loro Parque Foundation. The Brazilian native had been threatened by trapping and (what else) habitat destruction. New Zealand’s native kakapo numbers are under 150. Only about half the eggs successfully hatch and compounding the problem  is inbreeding. But now, in an almost $1 million program, Otago University scientist Bruce Robertson hopes to break the destructive cycle by unlocking their DNA . The Hispaniolan parrot, native to Haiti and the Dominican Republic, is being given an assist by BirdLife via their efforts to educate the local people about the parrot trade, restoring some of their dry subtropical habitat, monitoring and patrolling nests. – From – -

HOT DATES: 2/7: NH HB 688 hearing  on a bill requiring anyone who transfers birds (and/or other pet animals) within or into NH to be licensed (for a fee) and subject to unannounced inspections of their facility including homes. 1 p.m. Room 301, NH Legislative Office Building. — 2/10: SOUTHEAST EXOTIC BIRD FAIR. $4. FREE/16 and under. National Guard Armory, 9900 Normandy Blvd. Jacksonville, FL. —2/12: DRS. FOSTER & SMITH bird care products final day. Line was bought by Petco and will be discontinued.  — 2/16-18: TROPICAL NEW ENGLAND A fun respite from winter focusing on tropical animals and plants. Weather permitting, members of Connecticut’s The Parrot Club will be on hand  with their birds, including Rosie the rose breasted cockatoo. It is advised that birds in attendance be flight free, or restrained with a harness. Bird bearing participants will get a free pass to one of the Museum’s spring OC Marsh lectures and receptions. The event runs Sat. 2/16 from 10-4, Sun, 2/17 from 12-4 and Mon. 2/18 (Presidents’ Day) 10-4.

FOUND: Blue fronted Amazon. Brockton, MA. Contact Animal Protection Center of Southeastern Massachusetts  (508) 586-2053 — FOUND: Goffin’s cockatoo. Contact:  Fairfax County Animal Shelter, 4500 West Ox Road, Fairfax, VA (703) 830-1100


From the parrot’s beak: 1/27/19


PHOTO: The president- but not Trump. Fred the ‘too- but not “Baretta”‘s bird. Gronk – but not the Patriots’ tight end. Poe passes on a parrot. What’s going on? Look inside. – Photo by George Sommers

PRESIDENT RE-ELECTED; ‘TOO IS # THREE: Relax, Democrats; this is not a projected scenario for ’20. John Herlihy beat out a cockatoo, a sheep, a teddy bear and some other human candidates by five votes to win re-election of the presidency of Whangamomona, New Zealand’s only “republic”; population 12. Sherman the cockatoo, the second runner up; promised to work on the Forgotten World Highway. “His beak can do anything,” his mum Savvy Oldershaw said. First runner up Mrs. Brown pledged to build a wall “so Donald Trump can’t get in”, adding, “I plan to eat the sheep, eat the cockatoo and throw John off the bridge.” But Sherman the ‘too struck a conciliatory tone, making alliances and sitting on the other candidates’ shoulders, including Mrs. Brown’s. The campaign was not without its irregularities. Eunice the sheep vanished shortly before the election.  “John Herlihy hinted to me that she might go missing,” Eunice’s campaign manager Ceri Hutchinson said, and a ransom note that was ‘handed’ to the president looked suspiciously like his handwriting. She is confident that Eunice will be returned to her paddock soon, and not as lamb chops. The main job of the presidency is judging the local school’s pets. While the upcoming 2020 election in the USA has similarly attracted a large variety of candidates, thus far no cockatoo has risen to the challenge, although Stormy Daniels has compared Donald Trump’s hair to that of “a drunken cockatoo.” – From

“NEVER MORE,” QUOTH THE PARROT(?): Believe it or not, a parrot was the first talking bird that came to Edgar Allen Poe’s mind as he pondered the poem about the lost Lenore. But he ultimately decided a flamboyant parrot didn’t quite fit. “Very naturally, a parrot, in the first instance, suggested itself, but was superseded forthwith by a Raven, as equally capable of speech, and infinitely more in keeping with the intended tone,” Poe explained in his piece in Graham’s. “I had now gone so far as the conception of a Raven — the bird of ill omen — monotonously repeating the one word, ‘Nevermore,’ at the conclusion of each stanza, in a poem of melancholy tone…” – From

PSITTACINE CINEMA: My Bird is More Trained Than Your Dog! – YouTube

FRED TURNS 100: Fred the sulfur crested cockatoo is celebrating his 100 birthday. Fred currently resides at the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary just outside Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. In fact, Fred – not to be confused with Fred of the “Baretta” TV series – may actually be older than 100. He is estimated to have been born around the time World War I broke out.. The milestone was recognized in a letter sent to Fred by the Queen direct from Buckingham Palace and his party included face painting for children and a sausage sizzle.  Fred lived as a family pet for several decades until his owner died, then went to live at Bonorong. Fred prefers women and does not like coming out of his enclosure. His likes include passing sticks to visitors. His favorite humanese sayings are “Hello, Fred” and “Polly wanna cracker”. Wild cockatoos generally live up to 40 years of age, and 70 is not unusual for cockatoos in captivity. with some even reaching 100 and the record is 125.  –From

PARROTRIVIA: The MeTV network has been getting a lot of mileage promoting the “courtroom jungle” of its “Perry Mason” reruns featuring a clip of a parrot appearing in one episode and even ending the ad with animated feathers floating down the screen.

“NOT THAT” GRONK: After a hailstorm in 2012 killed his mitred conure family, the lone mitred of 10th Street in McAllen, TX paired up with a red-throated parakeet, another escapee. Their rowdy hybrid offspring were very large, prompting an observer to name the mixed-species family the Gronks. But  the name is apparently not after the also very large player for the Super Bowl bound New England Patriots. Rather, it’s an acronym for “great big honking”, a name that also referred to the mitred’s harsher, deeper voice. The red-throated mother bird  vanished after a cold, wet norther blew into the Valley. An observer last saw the mitred male in the Best Buy parking lot, feeding on crepe myrtle seeds with a flock of greens, in November 2015. – From a Facebook post

HOW MANY BIRDS ARE TOO MANY? CONT’D.:  More than 80 birds, mostly cockatiels; were allowed free flight in a man’s apartment allegedly covered in feather dust and feces. Although neighbors complained about the “very loud” birds, it was the owner himself who called out for help after the few birds he started out with began breeding uncontrollably.  San Diego’s Human Society removed the birds from the Rancho Bernardo home. The man, described as “verbally aggressive” by neighbors, was taken by the San Diego Police Department’s psychiatric team to get him mental health resources, according to NBC. This type of scenario is the reason this editor deplores the “How many birds do you own?”  recurring question on many bird oriented Facebook pages,  which inevitably turn into a “top this” contest – From

SPIX IN THE MIX: In 2009 there were only 68 Spix’s macaws left in captivity, none in the wild. Now there are 158 individuals and great strides are being taken toward  a third of them returning to their natural habitat in Brazil , as reported by the Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots. In addition to several successful captive breeding seasons, a fence was put up in the Caatinga, the original home range of the Spix’s, now targeted for reintroduction. The fence is intended to keep out goats which gobble up the natural vegetation the macaws require for food and cover. The former desolate landscape has turned into a green oasis and is ready to see Spix’s macaws again. – From an ACTP post.

HOT DATES: 1/25-27: WORLD OF PETS EXPO. Demonstrations, workshops, seminars.The World of Pets Expo is the Maryland Tour Stop for the Equus Film Festival (separate event from the main Expo). Binge watch the horse & pet films in and meet the film makers. Maryland State Fairgrounds, Timonium, MD —NATIONAL PARROT RESCUE & PRESERVATION FESTIVAL. Workshops and speakers including Jason Crean, Susan FrIedman, Patricia Anderson and more. 15747 JFK Boulevard Houston, TX.

From the parrot’s beak: 1/20/19


PHOTO: Seeking Clarence Clemons wannabe and cute kakapo chick- Photo (taken from Internet) by George Sommers

THE JOY OF SAX: They’re not even sure it will work, but some wildlife conservationists hope to enlist a saxophonist to put the remaining 147 kakapos “in the mood” and keep the species from going extinct. The advertisement calls for  audition videos and states, “We’re aware that the effect of saxophones on kākāpō might not yet be scientifically proven, but with only 147 birds left, we reckon it’s worth a punt.”  The successful job applicant will professionally record a piece of music for the cause, along with a $1,000 NZD voucher. Unfortunately, Clarence Clemons is no longer available, but maybe Kenny G.? Others can do their part on twitter with the hashtag #SaveTheKākāpō. The program is also using state-of-the-art Smart Eggs that help the incubation process, but this is only useful once the breeding has begun. – From

DIDJA KNOW: The cherry headed conure is aka red masked parakeet or red headed conure. They are considered to be the best talkers of the conure family and are the “stars” of the documentary film, “The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill”.

CALL ME MELLOW YELLOW:  Mutations are rare but natural differences that show up in parrots and other species (see last week’s “beak” article on the difference between mutants and hybrids). Sure enough, a nearly all yellow blue headed pionus has been spotted in the wild in Peru. The bird retains the purplish/blue head and can be seen in the following video happily feeding with its normal colored flockmates.  yellow mutation of a Blue-Headed Parrot in Peru on Vimeo

‘TOO DOWN ‘TO TO GO: A devastating thunderstorm swept through Queensland, Australia, in October 2018. This cell produced strong winds, large hail, and even a tornado that caused extensive damage to the town it touched down in. The owner of the dairy farm that had been hit especially hard, Damien Tessman, had gone out to look over the property. Sustained damages included the loss of the roof on his dairy barn, broken windows, and dents to the building. He also  came across what he assumed was a dead cockatoo lying among hail with its head on a concrete structure. However, after a nudge with his foot, the bird leapt up and left no uncertainly that it was indeed alive. After a few attempts to fly, Tessman determined that the bird may have a broken wing. Tessman covered the bird with a towel and placed it in a metal bin with corn to feed it. Despite the fact that the powerful storm killed many birds at the farm, this cockatoo was not only a survivor, but also a surprisingly active and noisy one. As each new day arrived, Tessman would open the door of the bird’s newfound safe haven to see what the bird would do. He would take the cockatoo out onto the lawn and give it time to make a decision. Five days later, the bird took flight and flew away. The name of Lazarus was bestowed upon the cockatoo by fans after Tessman posted his find and the plight of the bird on social media. The post went viral and was soon followed by people all over the world prompting many to inquire after the bird on a frequent basis. – From

JANUARY IS NATIONAL ADOPT A RESCUED BIRD MONTH: Dogs and cats get the lion’s share of attention, but surrendered birds are a huge and growing problem. Bird rescue outfits are often overcrowded and underfunded. One problem is that birds are often purchased on impulse by people who are under or uninformed of their capability for noise, messiness, feather plucking and other undesirable habits. Moreover, many parrots can live for several decades – often outliving their original owners.

PSITTACINE CINEMA: Confessions: Animal Hoarding- Too Many Birds – YouTube

GOOD NEWS for the western ground parrot of Australia. There are only about 140 left in the wild, but a nest has been discovered for the first time in more than 100 years in Cape Arid National Park. The main threats to the bird are introduced predators and brush fires.  – From

PSITTACINE CINEMA: Confessions: Animal Hoarding- Too Many Birds – YouTube

RAMBO UPDATE: Rambo the freeflying blue & gold macaw was shot and killed by a hunter in the Netherlands a few weeks ago. In response to inquiries from concerned parties, the Koninklijke Nederlandse Jagersvereniging (Royal Dutch Hunters Association) explains that hunters in that country may only shoot exotics for which a provincial waiver or designation has been issues, and that can change by province. If a hunter shoots a species for which no such waiver or designation applies, penalties can be issued. – From mfbclid=IwAR1UtBwhQKh6zFTDqmVFtYz7MvZ71iA0XwirThjhM9qMtFoOl7qH2nrcpCo  There has been a petition written in Dutch circulating to objedct to this hunter’s actions, but now there is one in English:

TOY JOY: Many of those expensive toys you gave your parrot for Christmas may have been demolished by now. To save some dough, one great way to reuse items before recycling is to turn them into fun toys. Cardboard egg cartons, cardboard drink holders, tubing from inside paper towels, and plain cardboard boxes work well. These items can be cut and strung together to make fun toys to chew. Egg carton cups are also a great place to hide nuts, seeds, or other treats to encourage foraging behavior! – As recommended by the Association of Avian Veterinarians

PARROT LEGAL: On January 14, The Organization of Professional Aviculturists (OPA) filed the first in what will likely be a series of lawsuits under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). This filing is regarding information needed to challenge U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) actions, or lack thereof, under provisions in the Wild Bird Conservation Act (WBCA). Specifically, OPA needs to know 1) information regarding the agency’s failure to include additional species on the WBCA approved list, 2) information relating to the approval of permits for consortium and cooperative breeding agreements especially for CITES Appendix I species, 3) information relating to approval of permits for importing personal pets, 4) all agency documents relating to approval of permits for import/export of avian species, 5) all documents relating to interpretation of the agency’s obligations under CITES and how that affects its obligations under the WBCA, and more broadly 6) all documents relating to the agency’s interpretations of its obligations under the WBCA. An actual copy of the filing in pdf format can be reviewed at:…/001%20-%20complaint.pdf…

BIRD DISEASE SPREADS: The third case of virulent Newcastle disease has reached a commercial facility in southern California. USDA/APHIS and CDFA employees have been working seven days a week in Southern California to eradicate virulent Newcastle disease in backyard birds, and to protect commercial facilities. Virulent Newcastle disease is a fatal respiratory virus in poultry. It is highly contagious, and birds die within days of being infected. There is no cure. Euthanasia is the only way to stop the spread of the virus and eradicate the disease. VND is primarily transmitted by the movement of infected birds, but also by people who have the virus on their clothes or shoes, and by equipment or vehicles that can carry and transport the disease from place to place. It is critical that all bird owners follow good biosecurity practices to protect their birds and to stop the spread of the disease.  Simple steps: • Washing hands and scrubbing and disinfecting boots before and after entering a poultry area• Keeping birds and property clean and disease-free• Not moving birds on or off your property if you’re in an infected area• Cleaning and disinfecting equipment and tires, before moving them off the property.  In very rare instances, people working directly with sick birds can develop mild symptoms that are like conjunctivitis or the flu. This link below provides the full article and details. #poultry#virulentNewcastleDisease

One long time bird hobbyist warns: “The last outbreak in Southern CA was brought in by infected fighting cocks. DOA [Department of Aviculture] killed everything. They showed up at your door with the sheriff and said you would be taken to jail if you did not relinquish your birds. Then, without testing they gassed them. Put them in trash bins and flooded them with gas. Screaming, scratching, unable to breathe they poked eye out and fought till they were dead. One little girl had a duck and an emu. They killed the duck, the emu ran down the street and as the guy chased it … he said to the little girl, ‘you’re next’. One of the juvenile delinquents (that’s who they used to murder the birds} accidentally turned his phone on dialing the number to the lead official and was heard telling the others about a rape he perpetrated during one of the killing sites. And they all laughed. A friend of mine videoed interviews with people whose swans and ducks and geese and parrots were gassed. He is a film maker but has not ever released them. A local vet knew parrots had been gassed and at a conference/meeting about this he did not raise his hand when I spoke up and told the DOA guy that yes, parrots had been gassed.”

MY MISTAKE: Early editions of last week’s “beak” mistakenly implied that the general public is invited to bring their pet parrots to a special museum event next month.  The invitation to bring parrots was actually made exclusively to members of Connecticut’s The Parrot Club. However, the general public IS invited to interact with the parrots and enjoy the “Tropical Vacation at the Peabody” Yale Museum of Natural History event to be held on Presidents’ Day weekend in New Haven, CT.

HOT DATES: 1/19: COLLABORATIVE LIVE STREAM: @Parrotsrus & Dr. Jason Crean All Species Consulting Jason Crean are teaming up this year to help solve your hunger for more Avian Nutrition information & application. 6 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. CT, @parrotsrus Instagram page. Here’s the link to IG: After the announcement they will hold a brief avian nutrition Q&A on avian nutrition questions submitted in advance which u can submit via @Parrotsrus IG stories, Jason‘s fb groups or via @Parrotsrus Direct Message.  the link to where the livestream will occur:  1/25-27: WORLD OF PETS EXPO. Demonstrations, workshops, seminars.The World of Pets Expo is the Maryland Tour Stop for the Equus Film Festival (separate event from the main Expo). Binge watch the horse & pet films in and meet the film makers. Maryland State Fairgrounds, Timonium, MD —NATIONAL PARROT RESCUE & PRESERVATION FESTIVAL. Workshops and speakers including Jason Crean, Susan Fredman, Patricia Anderson and more. 15747 JFK Boulevard Houston, TX.