Yup! That’s a Black Palm Cockatoo

I just returned from the Rocky Mountain Society of Aviculture Parrot Expo last weekend and man I had fun. Organized by Lisa McManus, I discovered that Lisa is an old hand at organizing events far bigger than the Expo, so naturally it went off without a hitch. But the work involved for all of the vendors simply setting up and maintaining their birds and products is tremendous. they have to set up their booth, move all of their products in, and if they have any birds with them, they have to keep the birds clean and fed the entire weekend. It’s a huge challenge.

I wasn’t too thrilled about having to get up at three in the morning to make the flight, but I’m just so used to slinging  my feet out of bed when the alarm goes off, I don’t even think about it much any more. But three a.m.? That was kind of pushing it. Nevertheless, I was excited about making the trip.

Once I was up and moving around it was no big deal. I had dropped Mattie the dog off at my neighbor Jean’s place the night before with her bowl, raw diet and treats. Taking her out that early wasn’t an issue. She sleeps with me so I missed her, but I was leaving super- early and didn’t want to have to wake Jean up at five in the morning to drop off Mattie.

Mattie with the bane of her existence: A feather on her nose.

I got on the flight with no issues and I even ran into an old roomate from when we were based in New York 22 years ago. So I essentially spent the entire flight perched on the front jumpseat yakking with Amy and catching up. Same with the connection to Denver; I ran into yet another Flight Attendant who flew out of Miami but commuted from Denver. So he was quite helpful with getting my bony rear end on the shuttle train within the airport and out to where I need to be for the hotel van pickup.

At the point where I got to the Hotel Front Desk, I was starving to death and beat. I had made two flights and gone through two time zone changes. Add the desination altitude of about 5300 feet and I was one whipped kid. All of this by 11:30 a.m. Mountain time.

 I’ve been to Ecuador, and even La Paz, Bolivia which boasts the highest altitude commercial airport in the world: 13,3330 feet. However, it had been a while since I’d done that and you have to remember: I live in a state where the highest elevation is about 65 feet above sea level. I live at sea level about a mile from the ocean, so the altitude nailed me. I’m now used to high humidity and all the O2 I can use. A headache from hell, and a neck ache left me a tad rundown.

After an amazing lunch of carne fajitas, I huffed and puffed my way back to my room to lick my wounds and recover from the thirteen hours I’d already been vertical. Yet I still had to figure out how to build a giant Q-Tip for my presentation, which I managed to do with the help of some tape,  a stapler and the amusement and assistance of the Front Desk staff.

Sally Blanchard, Publisher of Companion Parrot Quarterly was supposed to come.  I was really looking forward to hearing her speak, but she was sick; the flu I think, so I was disppointed she couldn’t make it.

I ran into a few people I had met before and some I knew from Facebook. I met up with Allen Brelig, a distributor who just so happened to be carrying the toy I designed for Star Bird Toys called “Ring Around the Rainbow.”  I must say it was really fun to see that toy fly out of the booth.  People just love the toy because it’s just so logical. Not many people who have birds have any aglets on their shoelaces. Birds go after those little plastic things on the ends of shoelaces like they were caviar.

Jason Crean was there from Beaks Birdhouse with his line of teas for birds as well as two of the most adorable birds I’d ever seen. One was an Aracari; a small, delighfully colored bird from the toucan family.

Jason also had a Mousebird:

Both were hand trained and just beautiful! In his presentation, Jason talked about making tea for your birds,and again, this product makes sense.  In the wild, tree and bush leaves fall into water puddles creating a steeped tea of sorts. Apparently they are doing studies on tea and it’s effects on both birds and rhinos. Don’t you just love things that make sense that you hadn’t thought of before?

I saw many Vendors with neat stuff for their birds including this really cool toy that was set into a pizza box. Your bird has to tear though the box to get to the toy. Deb White at Super Birds thought that one up. And I noticed that more and more people are carrying “reloadable toys;” toys that come loaded onto a stainless steel snap ring that you can replace with new stuff after your little destructive hoodlum has rippped the snot out of it. Deb also has a fabulous website called “AvianEnrichment.”

On saturday afternoon, it got a little gloomy and there was a prediction that snow was coming. They weren’t kidding! Denver got a foot of it. I know because I had to slog through the stuff, and when I was periodically waking up Saturday night to blow my dried-up nose, and drink about a quart of water due to the lack of humidity, (which made me get up yet again to go to the bathroom) I saw it coming down like popcorn out of my window. I haven’t seen snow for about five years but it’s not a new concept to me because I grew up in Chicago, moved to Minneapolis and started my flying career in New York.

Consequently, attendance was a bit thin on Sunday. That worked out for me because I got to spend time with people and get to know them. The Bird People in Denver are just so genuinely nice! And even though it was kind of slow on Sunday due to the weather, it was still a ton of fun.

The R.M.S.A has Expos twice a year and if you get the opportunity to attend, I highly recommend it. Good information, great vendors and an easy, relaxed mood made attending this event pure pleasure!