I just got back from the Houston Parrot Festival put on by the NPRPF, which is the “National Parrot Rescue and Preservation Foundation”; a mouthful in and of itself. I got back on Monday and I’m still beat. It’s a high-energy, fun get-together for Parrot Freaks all over the Country and this is how the NPRPF raises funds for their operation. Very cool and knowledgeable people speak at the Festival which is why I’ll probably never speak…but they get these wonderful people to give presentations and I always learn a ton of stuff. This year, it seems that the over-riding theme was Positive Reinforcement Training.
I’ve been trained by the best in the business: Dr. Susan Friedman and Steve Martin and the experience was invaluable. Steve was there, gave a presentation and it was wonderful as usual. Dr. Brian Speer, an Avian Vet talked about using positive reinforcement training in Vet Exams with your birds, and it just seemed to be the “new, sexy thing”. Well, to a lot of us, it’s been “the new sexy thing” for 5 or 6 years, so it was old news to a lot of us. Barbara Heidenreich has had a video available on the subject for over a year now. But I was so glad to see that the parrot owners who don’t work in the field of birds are starting to get the message.
Let me explain about the photo with Jill and the big-ass scarf: the first year I attended I knew I was to dress up in “Parrot Gear” of some sort; a shirt with parrots on it, dress up as a parrot, whatever. I don’t wear parrot gear. I look like a geek in parrot gear. So I decided to make a scarf from Parker and Pepper’s molted feathers as a “costume piece” instead of some “parrot-y thing”. That way I could wear normal clothes, still look fairly presentable and retain what was left of my dignity.
Well, people went crazy when I walked into the ballroom wearing that first scarf. The next night was the live auction and Jill asked me if I would donate the scarf for the auction, so I did. A bidding war broke out and it went for 165 bucks. I quietly left the ballroom for a moment to calm down because “OH MY GOD, those were Parker’s Feathers!”
Trust me, at this point I’m over it. I am now so thrilled when I scrape up those feathers from his cage and toss them into a zip-lock. I am a hideously awful “Parrot Mommy” to say this, but if his cast-off feathers can get cash for finding homes for homeless parrots then that boy has another job! Besides, the first scarf went to Bonnie Zimmerman of the Indonesian Parrot Project so the hell with feeling bad about that! Eat up little guy…I want some quality feathers when they fall off of you.
I made another one last year and people were asking me if I brought a scarf the minute I walked into the Hotel. Auction time came around and whammo: 175 bucks for NPRPF.
This year I made 2: one for the auction and one for the raffle. My scarf was 4th in the line up and Mark Hagen of Hagen Food Company and Steve Martin were waving their auction paddles like they were swatting flies. Steve won the scarf after bidding it up to 300 dollars which he promptly gave away to another attendee. The little green Amazon scarf probably fetched about 100 bucks, and of course the NPRPF people were asking if I would come back with more scarves to auction off. Of course I will.
I also made a scarf for Phoenix Landing. It came out okay I guess, and they like it. Although the quality if the feathers was top-notch, I probably could have done a better job designing it. This is my neighbor Nan wearing it for the photo I sent to Phoenix Landing: