From the parrot’s beak: true crimes edition


PHOTO: Keeping an eye out for the latest “parrot’s beak” column. – Photo by George Sommers

GRUESOME PARAKEET DEATHS PART OF TEEN CRIME SPREE: Two parakeets (budgies) were killed and their blood smeared on the furniture of a North Carolina house that two teenage girls allegedly broke into. In what may be a bullying scenario spinning way out of control, on Feb. 4 Hallie Pate, 17 and Jordan Ruiz, 18,  reportedly broke into the home of a girl they went to school with. Items including an Xbox One gaming system and medical inhalers were stolen. Homeowner Mack Price said the teens poured lighter fluid throughout the house.  After finding a vehicle parked outside, they set the car ablaze and left, officials said.  They were caught after allegedly trying to sell the stolen items. The pair were arrested Thursday on a dozen charges, including breaking and entering, larceny and cruelty to animals. Both teens were booked at Lenoir County Sheriff’s Detention center, where they each are being held on a $50,000 bond. – From

MISSING CONURE UPDATE: New twists to the strange story of Doc, the Patagonian conure who went missing from a Milford, CT pet center as reported in this column last week. The Snowflake Pet Center has set up a Facebook page disparaging owner Sue Maraczi’s claims; complete with a quote by Mark Twain, while still providing scant details about how and why the bird vanished. A letter from Snowflake’s lawyer, in addition to claiming Maraczi  “made fun” of their use of psychics and “a sniffer dog” to find the missing conure claims Maraczi had a falling out with her contact at a charity which was going to distribute missing veterinary medicines to hurricane ravaged St. Martin. A woman using a pseudonym popped up on Facebook showing off her Patagonian conure which she says she obtained from a pet center – apparently just an odd coincidence as Maraczi has ruled out the possibility that bird is Doc. More on this story will appear in the March “Pet Gazette” which will be linked on an upcoming “parrot’s beak” column.

PARROTRIVIA: “I’m gonna open a parakeet shop,”  replies a newly released felon to undercover reporter Lois Lane when she asks about his future plans in a classic “Superman” episode.

CHICKEN COOP SOUP: An avian vet was recently asked if parrots and chickens could be safely housed together.  His reply:  “The idea of mixing poultry with psittacines is not a good one. There are many diseases that can pass between species and specifically, diseases that can pass between parrots and chickens. Some of those include Psittacosis, Newcastle disease, Avian Influenza and pasteurella, salmonella and bordatella bacterial diseases. Internal parasites can also be transmitted between birds and the most common route of transmission is a fecal/oral route. From a nutritional stand point, if the chicken is intended only to eat the fallen bird food, then it is not getting a balanced diet. If the chicken is being supplemented with any sort of poultry pellets, you can guarantee a curious parrot will go down and try some. Perhaps most significantly; if an outbreak of Newcastle disease, Avian Influenza or even severe a severe outbreak of Salmonella occurs in the area, governmental disease control agents will destroy all poultry within a certain radius of the disease center. Any parrots housed with poultry would be considered potential infectious reservoirs and would also be destroyed. And finally – view it from the chickens’ perspectives. Would you want to be living under a parrot’s backside?”

ICH BIN EIN LORIKEET: Rainbow lorikeets perched all around – and on –  German Chancellor Angela Merkel as she posed for a photo while feeding the flock.

PSITTACINE CINEMA: A 1935 German film, set to the music of Mozart, features a man alternately  capturing birds and putting them in cages; but he gets rescued from a snake by his three macaws. It is a silhouette fim, similar to animation.

DEATH SENTENCE FOR CORELLAS: The corella cockatoos of  Playford, Australia  are lucky – they’re just being scared off with loud, obnoxious noises. Corellas in Moyne Shire, not so much – they’re facing a massive cull.  At the city council meeting, Port Fairy Cricket Club’s Paul Sheehan complained about damage being done by up to 3000 birds and called for a solution that was “good for all of us and death for the corellas”.  Crs Colin Ryan and Jim Doukas said a permit should be applied for straight away. “The cricket club have had a gut-full. It’s year after year after year and it’s not just the cricket club… it gets to the stage where the trees end up dying. Let’s have some courage… go to the government, see what they say, get whatever permit is going to work,” said Councillor  Jim Doukas. “If it’s gassing or poisoning or shooting then so be it… Let’s take the lead here and show other councils that we’re not scared to do something in the best interest of the community,” Doukas continued. The ‘toos did have some defenders.  Cr  Jordan Lockett said the motion was a “knee-jerk reaction” to a single presentation. “I think council should be ashamed that this is even being considered,” he said. “I know the corellas well. A lot of people love them. I’m sure a lot of people don’t, but they are a native species.”  Cr Ian Smith said while he agreed the corellas were causing damage, more discussion was needed. “I think it’s going to be a PR disaster for the Moyne Shire to be quite honest, we’re doing it right next to our childcare facility… I’m just amazed people are wanting to do this,” he said. A report on the situation is due later this month, but sadly for the corellas, the council has left the door open to pursue an eradication program against the native birds.

 – From


YOU READ IT HERE FIRST, OR MAYBE YOUR PARROT DID: Can parrots learn to read? Jennifer Cunha says her Goffin’s cockatoo, Ellie can, having been taught with the aid of a set of foam letters and flashcards. Color this writer “not fully convinced” but you can judge for yourself here:


CAUTIONARY TALE:  The worst thing ever happened to me tonight ? I heard my sun conure but he wasn’t in the house ? I could hear him outside ? Then I saw him through kitchen window flying around outside ??? MY HEART STOPPED. I went out and called him but he landed in the macadamia tree high up looking down at me ? I ran inside grabbed cashews tried get him down with that ? No he just flew to a window on second story ?? So I prayed and begged god to pls pls get him back to me safely ?? If magpie came past he would have been gone ? After 20 mins of me begging blaze and god ? He flew down to me ? I am still freaked out – he chewed through kitchen fly screen and happened so fast ? Don’t take eyes off your babies ever? They just so quick – From a Facebook post

DIDJA KNOW: Keas, aka “larrikins” New Zealand slang for cheeky teenagers, manage to invent such trouble as moving around traffic cones; causing mass confusion among motorists and one juvenile kea was even spotted rolling a snowball across a snow-covered road  — an amusing but potentially tragic situation. – From

QUOTE O’THE WEEK:  Has anyone noticed no one has 3 birds? They have a bird or two and then it jumps to 17.

HELP WANTED: Avian Behavior International  in Escondido, CA has an Animal Trainer Position Opening. The ideal candidate has at least 3 years of animal training experience, a bachelor’s or associate’s degree in biology, psychology, related field or equivalent experience. Position includes free flying birds, animal rearing/husbandry and presentations for education and conservation programs. Some travel may be required. Applicants must be at least 18 years old and able to pass a background check. Additional responsibilities and qualities include: work outside in various weather conditions on uneven terrain, able to lift 50 lbs. willing to engage with guests and a wide variety of audience and clientele, comfortable speaking to an audience, valid driver’s license. Pay is DOE. Send cover letter, references and resume to Hillary Hankey at hillary@avian-behavior

HOT DATES: 2/17: Solutions for Biting and Aggressive Behavior in  Companion Parerots. Live Webinar with Barbara Heidenreich.  12 Noon Central 90 minutes plus Q & A — 2/23: ANIMAL NIGHT with Jason Crean 5:15 Student Lounge Bldg. Rm. L105, St. Xavier University, 3700 W. 103rd St. chicago, IL

FOUND: parakeet (budge) Lowell, MA For info (978) 808-4421

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