Posted in Events, Midwest Bird Expo, People in Aviculture, Reviews, tagged american federation of aviculture, Bird Blogs, blogging about parrots, Dr. Karen Becker, Irena Schulz, Jason Crean, Midwest Bird Expo, Parrot Blog, Parrot Blogs, Parrot Nation, Patricia Sund, Snowball the dancing cockatoo, The Chop Revolution, ZuPreem on May 13, 2013 |
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Billy, Jason Crean’s Aracari.
I attended the 2013 Midwest Bird Expo this past weekend. I was lucky enough to be a speaker and did my presentation, “The Chop Revolution.” Su Gould, who is an absolute whiz with graphics, designed this really cool sign for me to promote the presentation:
Graphic by Su Gould. Isn’t it wonderful?
I have no idea how many people attended, but there were tons of them walking around and visiting the booths to snatch up the steals and deals on bird products. There were plenty of informational booths as well including the AFA table:
Photo courtesy of Concetta DellaRocco Ferragamo
It was held at the Kane County Fairgrounds in St. Charles, Illinois which is a really nice venue for it. Hotel rooms are reasonable and downtown St. Charles, known as “Rush Street West,” has a huge offering of dining options. It simply works. Here is half of the event:
Photo courtesy of TASC.
One of my favorite spots is “Wok on Fire,” a Thai and Japanese restaurant. After the Expo, Jason Crean took the speakers out for dinner and that’s where we went. Naturally we had to have a little fun:
Photo courtesy of Concetta DellaRocco Ferragamo
I find this Expo a well-balanced and fun event that evenly combines shopping, education and fun into the mix. This “Mix” makes it a very enjoyable experience. There are great deals on toys, food and other supplies as well as jewelry, books, magazines and clothing. Here is Concetta modeling a gorgeous bracelet:
Irena Schulz and Su Gould were there to promote Sy Montgomery’s book about Snowball the Dancing cockatoo.
Irena autographs books while Su sweats the details.
Su Gould does graphics for Bird Lovers Only and I’ll say it again. Su is one amazingly talented graphic artist. Here are some buttons she made for the event:
Su even did some buttons for me. Here is one that made me laugh!
Paula Rossow and Linnea Nicholson Faris came in for the event to help Irena and Su out, although Linnea got roped into giving me a hand. I was a bit scattered and Linnea calmly looked after some of the details that escaped me.
Linnea and Paula
I had a little corner of the Bird Lovers only booth where I could settle in for a bit and work on some details of my presentation. Su made up a poster board for me:
There was one thing I had to look after and it all worked out. When I fly, I have to wear my ID in plain sight in the airport. At many events, ZuPreem Bird Food Company supplies the lanyard you wear to the event. Years ago, I began using the ZuPreem Lanyard to wear while flying because they just work for me. There’s a little zippered pocket wear I can stash my FAA ID, a pen, my business cards and a lipstick. It’s very convenient and I love it. However, getting dragged around from flight to flight, they wear out after a few months. I was on my last one and it was literally taped together:
So I swung by the ZuPreem booth showed them my pathetic lanyard held together by tape and a wire bread bag tie and offered to purchase a few to wear while flying. They gave me two, admonished me for waiting so long and told me to call anytime I needed a new one and they would send some to me. ZuPreem rocks!
New lanyard on the left. Worn-out piece of crap lanyard on the right…
Sandy Lender was there to promote her magazine “In Your Flock” which is a terrific magazine. I’m happy she got quite a few new people signed up for new subscriptions:
Sandy at her Booth.
Jason did an amazing job putting the event together and the Midwest Bird Expo just seems to get better every year. Here’s Jason with Avian Vet Dr. Karen Becker, one of the speakers. By the way, Karen is hilarious!
Jason and Karen.
If you do not attend this event every year you’re missing out on so much. You can learn, shop, socialize and experience an absolutely terrific event. I highly recommend the Midwest Bird Expo as something you simply don’t want to miss.
All of us who participate have the Monday Morning Quarterback thoughts going on in our heads. We could have done this, I should have said that… But Su Gould summed it up perfectly in this charming Snowball cartoon about the aftermath:
I couldn’t have said it better. In the end, it is what it is. And the Midwest Bird Expo really is a must-do avicultural event.
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Posted in Events, People in Aviculture, Stuff Bird People Like, tagged "Chop" Concept, Bird Blogs, Bird Events, blogging about parrots, information about parrots, Irena Schulz, Jason Crean, Midwest Bird Expo, Parrot Blog, Parrot Blogs, Parrot Nation, Patricia Sund, Su Gould, TASC on May 5, 2013 |
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Su Gould’s nod to the Midwest Bird Expo!
And here we go yet again! I love this event because it’s not far from where I grew up. And I run into some really wonderful people. Irena Schulz, Su Gould, Paula Rossow, Nancy Walker and Linnea Nichoson Faris will be there and I always look forward to seeing them.
A reunion with one of my scarves and her new owner!
Angela’s infectious smile made ME smile!
The Avicultural Society of Chicagoland is once again hosting the Midwest Bird Expo next Saturday, May 11th.
Amy Bergman? Are you coming too?
The event runs all day and there is a great lineup of speakers. I’ll be speaking too. My presentation, “The Chop Revolution” is on the program.
Here’s the link for all of the information you’ll be needing in order to attend. Click on the image for the link:
Jason Crean is one of the principles behind planning it and I simply love how he manages to integrate education, information and fun into the program. There is so much to see with dozens and dozens of vendors, demonstrations and local groups showing off their expertise.
It really is a wonderful time! So, I’ll be winging my way to Chicago next week for this amazing annual event. I always look forward to attending because I get together with old friends and always make new ones. Please make plans to attend! I’m looking forward to seeing you there!
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Posted in Contests, Parrot Adoption and Rescue Sites, People in Aviculture, tagged Bird Blogs, blogging about parrots, Bonnie's Birds, essays and articles, Florida Parrot Rescue, Intuit, Parrot Blog, Parrot Blogs, Parrot Nation, Patricia Sund, Rebecca Stockslager, rehoming parrots on April 29, 2013 |
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Rebecca needs to do a little upgrading!
I’m not normally one to run around for this cause and that cause on Facebook. From what I have read, signing some bizarre petition to save the hissing cockroach doesn’t do much. But apparently this particular organization is helping small businesses, and that’s something I believe in and can get behind.
Here’s the deal: Rebecca Stockslager is a very cool lady. Very Cool. It’s hard to explain. She looks like one of those ladies in the movies that wears an apron and says “Land Sakes Alive!”
See what I mean? Rebecca as “Julia Bird,” her take on Julie Child.
But do not let appearances fool you. Rebecca is one twisted sister…but in a good way. She is outspoken, firm in her beliefs and does one flying hell of a job helping parrots find new homes. She’s also funny as hell. She’s a good business woman and she has one of the most beautiful parrot supply stores I’ve ever seen. She knows her stuff. And she really is a lovely, lovely person.
If you don’t know precisely who she is, Rebecca Stockslager is the proprietor of Bonnie’s Birds in Port Charlotte, Florida. It’s a gorgeous parrot supply store and she has lots of birds. But they’re not for sale. Rebecca fosters these birds and helps place them in suitable homes for Florida Parrot Rescue.
Rebecca, along with Bonnie Grafton helped Janet Hilton and I raise over ten thousand dollars for Florida Parrot Rescue with the first Chopalooza. She helps FPR in so many ways as well as parrots and adoption and rescue in general. She and Bonnie were instrumental in helping get Scout, the Blue and Gold Macaw into a home after years of camping out on a perch in someone’s back yard. I wrote about it in the story, “The Good Scout.” It could have been a tragedy but Bonnie and Rebecca were able to make the save and get Scout into a good home where she is happy and thriving.
Scout after her relinquishment from a really rough situation.
Now, with all that good work, good intentions and tireless contribution, I think it’s time we give a little back to Rebecca. Here is what you can do:
Here is a link to a contest sponsored by a little company called Intuit. Intuit has some pretty cool products like Turbotax, Quicken and Quick Books. They are no slouches. What they are doing is sponsoring a contest for small businesses like Bonnie’s Birds and giving them a hand up. I like small businesses and I like supporting them. I think they should be the backbone of this country.
Bonnie’s Birds needs a new Point-Of-Sale System. In other words, it needs a cash register that simultaneously keeps track of the sale and the inventory simultaneously, which is not only a time saver, it’s pretty cool.
This would leave Rebecca with more time to spend working with the birds she is trying to place for Florida Parrot Rescue. I would like you to go and enter the link, and then click to vote for Bonnie’s Birds so she can get this point-of-sale system for her shop. You don’t have to register, or fill out a form. It’s a simple click. Two seconds. That’s all we’re asking.
She’s not asking for a truck, or a new building. She simply needs a new cash register.
This is the link:
I really want this to happen for Rebecca and Bonnie’s Birds. I believe in reinforcing something good. And what Rebecca at Bonne’s Birds does is absolutely outstanding. I can’t do it by myself. But with your help, your two seconds of effort, maybe we can get Rebecca her cash register. Won’t you please take a moment and vote for this? For the link to vote for Rebecca at Bonnie’s Birds, just click on the image of Noah playing ball:
Thank you so much for your vote. And please share this link with your friends so that we can make this wish come true. I thank you so much!
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Posted in essays and articles, Events, People in Aviculture, Writing, tagged Ann Brooks, Bird Blogs, Bird Talk Writer, blogging about parrots, essays and articles, Judith Archer, Lisa Bono, Liz Wilson, Parrot Blog, Parrot Blogs, Parrot Nation, Patricia Sund on April 15, 2013 |
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We’ve lost Liz Wilson.
I found out when I landed last night on a flight from Antigua. From what I understand, Liz passed away Saturday afternoon of complications from emphysema.
I am upset about it. I cut my teeth on Liz Wilson’s written work about parrot care. And I am proud to say I was able to tell her so. I admired her dedication and her decades in the field.
The ironic part about it is that I never met her. Never talked over the phone with her. But we emailed. Messaged. We had a relationship of sorts. She helped me and was so supportive of my work.
Ironically, her death comes right on the heels of the death of someone I’ve known for a while.
A neighbor I’ve known for about 7 years just died last week. I knew him fairly well. He used to be a friend and then things sort of went south after he and his girlfriend did some rather shady stuff. They just sort of went off the rails.
After that, he and his girlfriend was off my list of friends. I wished him no ill will. I just wanted nothing to do with him because he couldn’t be trusted.
Well, he had an aneurism about a week ago. Apparently the aneurism destroyed his brain and while his body was surviving on life support, essentially “Elvis had left the building.”
They removed life support last Thursday. And I feel nothing. His death doesn’t bother me. But the fact that it doesn’t bother me, well, bothers me. Here is someone I know. He dies and I really don’t have much emotion about it.
Yet, I am upset about Liz. I never met her, but I am grieving over Liz. I find that telling. And what that tells me is that sometimes people can effect your life positively even if you never met them. And sometimes people you know fairly well have no effect whatsoever.
I feel bad that I never got to meet Liz. I got to know her in a way, but I never even talked to her over the phone. But to her, somehow that didn’t matter. We were writers so we wrote to each other.
She was kind to me. She helped me clarify stuff some of my ideas and thoughts.
Bird Clubs of Virgina put together a video tribute to Liz on You Tube. Here is the video. Fast forward it to 3.00 minutes to see the tribute to Liz:
Judith Archer got to know Liz when Liz and her husband and moved to Saint Simons Island, Georgia from Philadelphia. Judith told me about first meeting Liz:
“When I first met her, after she moved south, I came screeching into a gas station in Southern Georgia. I came to a semi-stop, she jumped in, we zoomed off, and she was like meeting my best friend from high school. She was one of those friends where you can pick up your conversation thirty years later without msising a beat, even though we’d never met before.”
Judith continued with more thoughts about Liz:
“Liz was another Yankee who simply grew up speaking plainly with no frills or flourishes. She was blunt and to the point, but she was also witty, snarky, and under it all, constantly looking to help people and birds. And over the years, as we learned more about parrot behaviour, her advice also changed.”
Longtime friend and Phoenix Landing Founder Ann Brooks has this to say about Liz:
Photo: Courtesy of Ann Brooks
“When I think of Liz, the words “Loyal” and “True” first come to mind. Liz was fiercely loyal to the truth, speaking it always with direct and often humorous honesty. She was deeply loyal to improving life for parrots in captivity, and she had little patience for the more selfish-hearted. She was as loyal a personal friend as one could ever have. This meant we could talk about anything, no matter how uncomfortable, knowing that our relationship was never at stake. And she was a true friend to the mission of Phoenix Landing, I cannot yet imagine not having her solid wisdom at my side day-by-day.”
Lisa Bono of the Platinum Parrot got to know Liz over the years as well.
Photo: Courtesy of Lisa Bono
Lisa was devastated by the news. But she was kind enough to give me her thoughts about Liz:
“I met Liz nearly 20 years ago. I lovingly say I grew up learning from her writings, lectures and friendship. I found her to be an enthusiastic and entertaining speaker full of knowledge and and compassion for companion parrots. She was an excellent teacher willing to share her knowledge with anyone who would ask. She refused to tolerate fools and spoke her mind. Liz was honest and to the point. She was always willing to help with questions, bounce ideas off of and she was my editor for several of the articles that have been published.
Liz was a trusted confidant and staunch supporter who pushed me to excel. She was never too busy to lend a hand, offer advice or keep me grounded. I appreciated her pep talks, wise cracks and cards she would send when I had a bad day. She always let me know she was there. Liz believed in me, even when I did not believe in myself.
When I found out I was accepted to speak at this year’s Long Island Parrot Societies annual show, the place I met her all those years ago, I contacted her to say I wanted to make her proud. She told me I already had.
I will always be greatful to the woman who took me under her wing, helped shape who I am, and taught me to fly. I will miss her and hopefully continue to make her proud.”
I was always happy to hear from Liz. And even though I didn’t know her, I feel grief. I’ll miss her articles, her interesting posts on Facebook and her occasional emails to me. She was a well-known authority in the field and her work will go on teaching many that come after her.
Unlike the experience with my my neighbor, I never experienced anything but good things from Liz. She was kind to me, gave me solid advice and made me laugh! Here is a portion of one of the last emails I got from Liz.
Always enjoy your columns, Patricia – great humor plus you write well so I don’t
find myself editing you in my head as I read! SO much more enjoyable that way, yes?!
Oh, you edit in your head too? Thank
God! I thought I was the only one!
Ha! Far from it, Patricia. Mental editing other people’s writing is a sad off-shoot of being a writer, I’m afraid. Can ruin the enjoyment of a good story when you suddenly think, “Why the hell did he say it THAT way?!”
I got an email from someone who had written for
BIRD TALK a few times. She said that when they printed her work, they had edited it
so much she couldn’t even recognize her own work and “…did they do that to me?”
I had to be honest and say “Umm, no.” They really don’t touch my stuff very much.
But I try to be fast and accurate. My crap is in at least a month early.
Thanks so much. With Respect and a hell of a lot of gratitude,
You honor me, thank you. And the feeling is mutual, Patricia.
I was proud to be on the masthead with her:
Photo: Courtesy of Lisa Bono
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Posted in Best Friends Animal Society, essays and articles, Parrot Adoption and Rescue Sites, Patricia Sund, People in Aviculture, Writing, tagged Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, Bird Blogs, Black Hills Parrot Welfare and Education, blogging about parrots, Miss Vicky's Parrot Village, Parrot Blog, Parrot Blogs, Parrot Nation, Parrot Rescue Sites, Patricia Sund, Phoenix Landing, taking care of parrots, Visiting Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, Wendy Hatchel on April 11, 2013 |
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I love volunteering at Best Friends Animal Society. It is an amazing place with incredible people. I worked hard while I was there. I washed windows, cleaned baseboards, scrubbed floors and bathrooms. I left it cleaner and better than I found it. So I consider my experience and visit a successful one because I feel good about what I accomplished and the Parrot Garden benefited from my time there. Win-Win.
The work I saw as necessary will stick for a while and I chose to do that as a way of giving to the Parrot Garden. Most volunteers have no interest in doing that sort of thing. They want to work with the birds. But I saw deep-cleaning as the best way to help out. I don’t have the money to give them a huge donation. But I can clean a bathroom. And I will go back. Probably again and again.
I think a clean and bright bathroom makes it a nice place to work. They let me choose what I wanted to do and they let me do it. I liked that. I like making things better for the volunteers and staff as well as for the birds.
The Parrot Garden has changed since the two years I’d been there initially. They’ve added more flights and more plants. They’ve put in a dog run for the Vicktory dogs that stay at the Parrot Garden learning social skills. The Parrot Garden has expanded and improved. It was a gratifying thing to see.
But a visit to Best Friends changes your view of the world. Things simply appear differently to you when you return home. The effect and change within yourself is profound.
When I returned home, I thought, “I was there yesterday and I made a difference. But they are there today making a difference and I’m not. Their work goes on. Without me.”
Their work is important. And unfortunately, it’s very necessary. I did find out a couple things about the Parrot Garden. It exists not because Best Friends wanted to have an adoption program for parrots, it was because a few parrots ended up in the “Feathered Friends” area. They didn’t know where else to put them, so that’s where they ended up: with the doves and hawks, geese and owls.
Eventually, they created a separate area for the parrots, renamed the two areas “Wild Friends” and the “Parrot Garden” about five or six years ago and the Parrot Garden simply grew from those first initial few parrots.
They now care for about a hundred birds with a long waiting list. They do good work. The Staff loves what they do and they are very good at it.
That’s all well and good but I feel the homeless parrot problem is growing all over the nation. Some people in the field don’t see it that way. I have not seen the statistics so I can only go by what I read and what people discuss. Obviously there are people out there who don’t see it as a problem, but then again, they aren’t the ones doing intake at the Parrot Garden, Phoenix Landing, Florida Parrot Rescue and a myriad of other rescues across the country.
Paco, a 68 year-old Amazon
Echo at Miss Vicky’s Parrot Village
Despite the growing need for it in the world of animal adoption and rescue, I feel that the plight of homeless parrots still remains one of the “Red Headed Step-Children” of the National Adoption and Rescue scene. I believe we are indeed a distant third behind dogs and cats both in regard and perception of importance.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I find it ironic that HSUS puts out an article about homeless parrots that makes a lot of noise (The No Fly Zone) and yet they do no work in the field. I’m also unaware of any parrot rescues and adoption organizations affiliated with the HSUS.
Sweetie at Black Hills Parrot Rescue
When I was at Best Friends last September, I talked with John Garcia, one of the first response team leaders on the ground at Bad Newz Kennels when the Vicktory Dogs were first being assessed. He is now in charge of the Emergency Response Team Program. In setting up this team and their protocol, John had to train with Wendy Hatchel and others at the Parrot Garden, learning how to safely restrain a parrot, toweling and other skills many of us already know. But John was primarily a “Dog Guy.”
John Garcia at Best Freiends: Dedicated and a really nice guy.
John wasn’t well versed in the area of caring for parrots but he had to learn it as part of the Emergency Response protocol. John told me he really enjoyed being at the Parrot Garden learning about parrots and how to help them should the need arise in the field. Unfortunately, I think those skills John learned will serve him sooner than later.
He did mention that he’d rather take a bite from a pit bull than a parrot. I was surprised at that, but then again, I’ve never taken a bite from a pit bull. A Pig? Yes. Penguin? Yes. Pit bull? Well, not yet.
BooBoo at Phoenix Landing
Apparently John has taken bites from both parrots and pit bulls so I’m not going to question his assessment of the situation. My point is, John is well-versed in rescue work, but he had to be specially trained to work with birds. Face it, this particular arena takes a group of people with specialized skills.
Not everyone knows how to handle a parrot. So I must applaud all of the people out there who do parrot adoption work as well as care for those birds needing help: As you might realize, there is a growing need for Foster Families.
Jaws at Black Hills Parrot Welfare & Education Center,
So in the meantime, what should we do about this “Third Place” situation? I don’t know. But I think if we continue with education, publicity about the need for adoption, fostering of parrots, and keep making noise about their specific needs, we might get somewhere.
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Posted in essays and articles, People in Aviculture, Reviews, Writing, tagged Bird Blogs, Cockatoos, information about parrots, Parrot Blog, Parrot Blogs, Parrot Nation, Patricia Sund, Snowball the dancing cockatoo, Su Gould, Sy Montgomery on April 8, 2013 |
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Graphic Artist Su Gould created this Snowball cartoon and I simply had to post it here. How often does one become associated with Snowball and Oprah in a cartoon due to a snarky, potty-mouth quote? Well, once as far as I know. This cartoon had to do with the release of Sy Montgomery’s latest book about my friend Irena Schulz’s bird, Snowball the Dancing Cockatoo. It’s a children’s book and you can find it here: Snowball the Dancing Cockatoo
The quote came from a recent post about my feelings about people who have cockatoos. I think they are saints. I think cockatoo people are the most patient, tolerant and incredible people in the world. I could not have a cockatoo. Couldn’t do it. Why? I simply know better. I would be a withered pile of raw nerves piled into a weeping mess within a week. I wish more people knew themselves as well as I do when it comes to cockatoos. Greys? I’m good. Finches? No problem. But I am simply not cut out of cockatoos or quakers. Well, at least I won’t ever be giving one up.
Read the cartoon. Then read this post so you understand how I explained my inadequacies regarding cockatoos: The No Fly Zone. Don’t get me wrong. I love cockatoos. They are gorgeous, fun, smart and charming. However, just a like a Grandmother, I prefer to play with them, spoil them, give them treats and then hand them back to Mom.
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Posted in essays and articles, People in Aviculture, Writing, tagged Advice for Future Aviculturists, Bird Blogs, blogging about parrots, information about parrots, Parrot Blog, Parrot Blogs, Parrot Nation, Patricia Sund, rehoming parrots, Speaking to the Future, taking care of parrots on April 5, 2013 |
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A while back, I asked some of my friends a question: “If they could speak to the aviculturists of the future, what piece of advice would they give them?”
I got some interesting answers which I published here: Speaking to the Future- Part I. I did get so many answers I had to split them into more than one post. The photos are of the people who responded followed by their answers:
“Enjoy them while you have them because you never know when circumstances will change and you will no longer have that feathered kid you loved so much..and love them for them not for what you expect them to be….they maybe nippy they maybe moody but they do need unconditional love no matter what.”
Barbara J Helferich:
“I would say to all the rescuers that they need to pull together for the good of the birds and quit the back stabbing and vicious remarks because that does nothing to promote their abilities to take care of these precious creatures.”
“I did not know anything about abused, neglected parrots until I went online looking for Parrot Toys of all things. I then found out about ‘rescues’ so I volunteered at one. Read and read some more, everything and anything. Talk with people, experiences people. Spend time with birds, learning them and their behaviors.
”Volunteer in a bird rescue before deciding which bird would be right for you. I learned a lot doing this, and my dream bird is not one that I would want after learning more about myself, and what type of Parrots would do good in my home.”
“Having a parrot is a long life commitments with lots of love. Don’t buy a parrot just because you said “Aww how cute!” Do your research & understand what you’re getting into. I love my babies 11 & 8yrs old and I’ve had them since they were babies.”
“If you can, set up a trust fund for your birds. Don’t plan on “giving” your birds to family. If they were interested, they would have already told you. Make sure you have a folder on each bird – their likes, fears, words, favorite foods, who they get along with, who their buddies are. Do your homework as far as rescues you trust. Have a network of bird friends. They understand how you live, what you would want for your birds. I hate to be this morbid, but our oldest is 30, youngest is 6 years old. Being 56, I would have to live until 100 to take care of them. I’d also like to set up a retirement for birds & their people, but I don’t have the money.”
“Learn to say “No.” Once you have a parrot (even if it’s “just” a budgie) you will become a magnet for those who are looking to re-home.”
It’s an interesting question. I got interesting answers. As I get more opinions, I’ll publish them in upcoming posts.
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Posted in People in Aviculture, Writing, tagged Bird Blogs, blogging about parrots, essays and articles, HSUS, information about parrots, Parrot Blog, Parrot Blogs, Parrot Nation, Parrots in the Wild, Patricia Sund, Phoebe Greene Linden, taking care of parrots on March 29, 2013 |
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Photo courtesy of Janet Holt Hilton
When I was writing the post here at the blog titled, “The No Fly Zone,” I did a little fact checking. I got in touch with Phoebe Greene Linden who was quoted in the article. I simply asked her if she was quoted accurately and were any of the quotes printed out of context.
Phoebe. Photo courtesy of Phoebe Greene Linden
We had a short email volley back and forth regarding the quotes and then, she sent me this. It’s a powerful piece and Phoebe has a perspective I never pondered before because, well, I’ve never bred birds. I was moved by her email response to my questions and asked Phoebe if I could reprint it here. She agreed when I told her that what she sent to me was not just an email, but a very powerful essay. This is Phoebe’s point of view from her perspective in her own words. As a reminder, Parrot Nation is about points of view from all aspects of aviculture. The opinions expressed here are Phoebe Greene Linden’s and do not necessarily reflect that of this blog.
I have interjected quotes from the article I was asking her about so you can follow what she is explaining. Those quotes will be in italics. These are Phoebe’s thoughts regarding the Humane Society piece, No Fly Zone written by Charles Bergman:
“Yes, it’s a bleak article. And maybe it needs to be overwhelmingly bleak. Because in my experience, if you put that little ray of hope in — “but some parrots can be happy in captivity, given xyz, plus abc,” – if you include any exceptions to the “parrots deserve better than captivity” rule, people will grab on to that exception and think, ah yes, that’s me — I’ll be the exception, my parrots will be happy.
Animal people are notorious for this wistful thinking — if they’ve had lots of dogs and/or cats, horses, whatever, for their whole lives, they think parrots will be like those companions, give or take a few considerations. They already know it all — their dog was really smart, not like other dogs; their cat was a Teacher, their experience is higher caliber, they’ll have grateful, contented parrots who will adore everyone and be life-long happy beings, or so they think. Then it becomes the parrot’s job to re-educate the person and the parrot pays for the person’s education, big time.
Nikki, Phoebe’s 31 year-old Rosie. Photo courtesy of Phoebe Greene Linden
Plus, we know that if we responsible parrot caregivers — those who’ve seen the world as a captive parrot does, from inside the cage — if we say, “Well, I’m not against all captive parrots, I’m just against people having a lot of them, or just against them going to people who aren’t educated, or smokers or abusers or workaholics,” then we get into all these cultural distinctions that are impossible to control, rule out, screen for or define. If we advocate “no captive parrots, period,” we still know that lots and lots of people will keep them because they are the self-perceived exceptions to the rule, because people have kept parrots since the beginning of recorded history, because people will not be denied their desires, people will not be bossed around about animals. Due to that — due to the numbers of people who will continue to demand parrots no matter what — we (those of us who know and care for them) need to de-prettify parrot keeping. We need to show it for the train wreck that it usually becomes, a train wreck wherein humans remain unscathed but parrots turn into rubble.
We have to say: No New Baby Parrots. None. It doesn’t work. It’s not good for the birds. If you love parrots, protect them in the wild, adopt a homeless one, or volunteer at a shelter, or do all three! Give your time, talent and money to parrots who already exist and see how far your efforts take you. Really measure yourself, and ask yourself honestly, what did I do today that made a lasting positive impact on parrots’ lives? Make a difference for a parrot who’s alive today. Never buy a parrot, and don’t support those who raise or sell them.
Image by Nato Tuke, of baby yellow-shouldered Amazon in Bonaire who was rescued from smugglers.
That way, if we’re really firm and really repetitive, we might make a difference in 20 years. A small difference, yes, because there will always be those who see dollar signs in an animal’s eyes and those will have their influence. Therefore, it’s all the more imperative that those of us who know and advocate for parrots help shut down parrot breeding. Even though it will be a long, arduous and contentious venture, we simply must add our voices to the “reduce demand” chorus and be loud and clear and endlessly repetitive and say our truth as we know it — that parrot breeding is exploitive, traumatic to the birds, dangerous to conservation (because wild parrots will continue to be poached to supply illicit trade) and wrong.
People (previously me included) do not understand, simply cannot understand until they’ve been in it 25, 30, 35 years exactly what goes in to keeping parrots in a truly compassionate way, in ways commensurate with who the parrots really are. At the beginning, Harry and I were young, endlessly energetic in high-paying jobs with money, energy and time in abundance. Fast forward thirty years and shifts in employment — limited energy now, limited funds, parrots getting older — would we do it again, knowing what we know now? No. No way. But, would we ever give them up, our flock, our retired breeding birds? Never. They are our beloved flock, our family, our reason.
I wish I’d never sold one baby. I wish I knew where every single one of them is today, and how they’re doing and whether they remember all the love we poured into them. Do they remember their parents? Siblings? Are they lonely? Appreciated? How many homes have they been in? Do they still fly?
The clarion call, now, knowing what we all know about human nature and psittacine nature, must be for an end to captive parrot breeding. Except for conservation re-release programs, vetted and run by real behavioral biologists. There are simply too many variables with people. That’s why I say it’s not a parrot problem, it’s a people problem because to me, people are the problem. Parrots are wonderful, amazing creatures — the way they can embody and express life, with zest, is a gift like none other, but it’s a gift people can live without or can experience in the wild. Too many parrots in captivity have that gift sucked out of them.
The owners of Santa Barbara Bird Farm in California, Phoebe Linden and her husband have not bred parrots in 11 years, out of concern for what breeding does to the birds’ mental health.
“There are so many crazy, whacked-out parrots,” she says, emotion filling her voice. “Every domestically raised bird is traumatized. To some extent all are. Some birds respond to trauma, like some people, and have no effects. Some drag their trauma around with them all their lives.”
Patricia, I do believe that every parrot raised in captivity is, to some extent, traumatized. Considering trauma as a set of unnatural experiences that are foisted upon one by another, yes, captive raised parrots are all traumatized. But, as I said, some respond well to the trauma and show virtually no long-lasting negative effects. While others never recover.
She adds, “We don’t have a parrot problem in the country. The parrots are not the problem. The problem is people. Too often, they want the parrots to be decorations. Or they don’t focus enough on the parrots’ needs.”
I don’t remember saying that people want parrots as decorations. Those days are over, I think, speaking generally – most people know that parrots are more complicated that interior design elements and don’t buy them as decoration, but still, they underestimate the amount of time, work, contemplation, understanding and resources required to keep them in a manner deserving of the parrots. I also think this matter of focusing on the parrots’ needs and fulfilling those needs, in whatever variety they occur, is very under-examined by many parrot caregivers. Some parrots like playmates, some want to breed, others want to remain celibate; others want tons of exercise and adventure, others want endless days of the same routine. Most females like a box, at least during certain times of the year, wherein they can brood and be quiet — and denied that box, they pick, get anxious, bite, scream and/or live life of misery.
The vast majority of caregivers still are afraid to give their hens a box, afraid of this or that, cannot manage the whole ovulating thing, or the parrots don’t exercise during non-brooding seasons and get egg-bound, or aren’t comfortable when brooding due to normal household disturbances (like the noises of T. V., telephone conversations, the endless humming of electronic devises) and get pissed off, fed up, aggressive, — and all of these deviations from normal behavior are captivity-caused. In short, people cannot know what is going to make their parrots happy until they live with those parrots for a while and then only if they carefully observe how the reality of happiness continues to change as weeks, months and years go by.”
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Posted in essays and articles, People in Aviculture, Reviews, Writing, tagged Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, Best Friends animal Society, Bird Blogs, blogging about parrots, Charity Navigator, Charles Bergman, essays and articles, HSUS, Humane Society, Mira Tweti, Parrot Blog, Parrot Blogs, Parrot Nation, Parrot Rescue Sites, Patricia Sund, rehabilitation, rehoming parrots on March 27, 2013 |
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I read an article sent to me by Sher Buckner from the Humane Society Website by writer Charles Bergman. Who is Charles Bergman? I had no idea so I Googled him. According to Charles Bergman, Charles Bergman is:
….a writer, photographer and speaker who lives today in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. He’s twice been a Fulbright Scholar in Latin America–Mexico and Ecuador–and traveled extensively in Latin America from Mexico to Tierra del Fuego. He has recently had cover stories in Smithsonian magazine (wildlife trafficking), Audubon magazine (roses), Defenders magazine (parrot trafficking in Mexico). His photographs accompany his articles. He has written three books, and has won the Washington State Book Award, Southwest Book Award, and the Benjamin Franklin Book Award. He was a finalist for the PEN USA Literary Award.
Author Mira Tweti was quoted as saying: “For an animal as emotionally complex as a chimpanzee or dolphin, it amounts to an unimaginably bleak existence.” Berman goes on to write, ” In fact, parrot advocate Mira Tweti estimates that some 75 percent of birds “live a life of abuse or neglect.’”
Perhaps they do. I don’t know where these numbers and estimates come from that says all of these parrots lead bleak, lonely lives.
But not in my home. Not in Shari Mirojnick’s home. Or Irena Schulz’s, Kelly Moore and Anthony Parsley’s, Bonnie Grafton’s, Rebecca Stockslager’s, Elle Michelle’s, Janet Holt Hilton’s, Lynn’s, Silvia’s, Noelle’s, or hundreds and thousands of other homes around the world. Yes, I realize we are the exception rather than the rule.
And yes, we have a problem. I believe there are more birds than we have homes for.
And it is my opinion that cockatoos are one hell of a challenge for your average person. Even your above average person. Hell, I think that they would be a challenge for St. Francis of Assisi. “Saint and Lover of All Animals.” Perhaps. But I’d make book that he’d run in the other direction the minute he got a cockatoo.
I’m a Grey person. I know enough to stay out of the cockatoo arena because they would drive me bat-shit crazy in a day or two. And as far as I’m concerned, you Cockatoo people have the patience of a saint and nerves of steel. I don’t know how you do it, and I could never pretend to even begin thinking about adopting one. I nearly lost it with a Quaker in the house. I’ve got three Greys. I’m good.
Photo of Snooky by Shari Mirojnick
But I digress.
It goes on to state that “We’re experiencing a hidden crisis of parrot ownership.” I don’t quite know what that means. What part is hidden? Foster Parrots is pretty up front about the situation. Founder Marc Johnson has always been a very vocal advocate of parrots and quite up front about his opinion regarding the continuation of breeding. Anne Brooks of Phoenix Landing is very clear about the growing need for homes as is Florida Parrot Rescue. At this point, all FPR is asking for are foster homes. They need some homes, like, NOW! Where’s the “Hidden” part?
Illustration by Robert Seymour, courtesy FPR
Then, here come the numbers in the article: “For example, while a 2012 survey by the American Veterinary Medical Association found about 8.3 million birds in 3.7 million homes, a 2010 survey by the American Pet Products Association found nearly twice that number: 16.2 million birds in 5.7 million U.S. homes.”
Okay, I don’t know which is right but it doesn’t matter. Let’s just take it on face value that they are correct Pick a statistic, the powers that be can’t even agree on them.
Reading the article in question begs a question: Okay, so you don’t think we do very well by our birds. We get that. Now, what would you like us to do with them? Two of mine are relinquishments.
It makes a lot of statements. But this article was put out by the Humane Society!
Got any solutions there for us, HSUS? Little help here?
The HSUS is for the most part an advocacy group now, working on lobbying and getting laws passed. But as far as I know, they have stepped out of the “direct rescue” of animals. On their website, they state, “We are the nation’s most important advocate for local humane societies, providing shelter standards and evaluations, training programs, a national advertising campaign to promote pet adoption, direct support, and national conferences.”
According to Charity Navigator, the HSUS pays out zero dollars to their affiliates. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Nothing. Here are the numbers:
A bulk of this collected works here at the “Nation,” devotes itself to attempting to appeal to the humanity of people. I been trying to get people to work through the issues of having birds in their houses. I want the birds we have to remain where they are for as long as possible.
We get it. It’s not an ideal life. But then, none of life is, wild or captive.
Mark Bittner spoke a couple of years ago at the Midwest Bird Expo. When he told the audience that none of the original flock was still alive, you felt a freeze in the audience. People were upset. What? Why? Why are they all gone?
Well, because they were wild. Some died of disease, infection, predator attack, whatever. That’s what happens in the wild. Living wild has its issues. And these are just some of the reasons wild animals don’t live as long as we would like to think.
It’s not pretty out there. It’s wild!
Animals die. They get consumed by other animals. They get hit by cars, they die of disease, or God knows what else. That’s the beast of nature. So many people think its all these pretty parrots out there flitting about from branch to branch finding plenty to eat and playing in the trees like a scene from Snow White. That is a fairy tale.
Just watching the film, Anne of a Thousand Days about Anne Bolyn which took place during the Tudor period from 1485 to 1603 makes me cringe. Infection, venereal disease, pneumonia, death in childbirth. Life expectancy at that time was thirty-five years. Gaaaaahhh! Something as simple as a scratch on your knee and you might lose a leg. Or just die from the resulting infection, tetanus or lockjaw. And these were people who were the upper crust. Just five hundred years ago people were dying young and sometimes horribly with no antibiotics or simple medical knowledge.
So what makes people think its better out there in the wild for a flock of parrots?
Look, I’m not defending the asshats who fail to take care of their birds, just like I can’t stand the idea of kids having kids at 15 or 16.
I think we are overrun with people and I take off my scarf to couples who choose not to have kids. Or they just stick to one. I think the Dugger Family is not only crazy, they are irresponsible.
There’s far too many people in the world, let alone parrots.
Unfortunately there’s far too few people to take care of the far too many parrots. So what do we do? I don’t know. I know that what I’m trying to do is make people feel better about the birds they already have. I want people to keep them. To take better care of them. I’m trying to make it easier for the families who already have birds.
I can’t do a whole lot about the thousands of parrots that are displaced. I am one person. And making me feel bad about the situation almost makes me want to give up rather than work harder. And I really don’t think that’s what the intention of the article was, but that was the effect it had on me. Which really doesn’t help anything.
But if not us, who? If not here, where? Where are they going to go and who is going to take care of them?
While I agree with much of what was said, I found the overall tone of it discouraging and upsetting. And if writer Charles Bergman wanted to stir the pot, he did so effectively. But the tone and the bleak, take no prisoners approach was probably enough to make some people do what I do when I see the HSUS commercials on TV: I change the channel.
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