This is my friend Shari. Shari is an extraordinary individual in the field of birds. She has a plethora of Greys, (I guess a plethora in this case would be seven.) that she takes exquisite care of and is truly a “Grey Person.” She has taught me more about Greys and birds in general from her vast experience in the field and in her own research work than I even can explain.

She thinks nothing of curling up with a copy of Forshaw’s, Parrots of the World for an evening of “light reading” and can research like nobody’s business because she knows where to look.

Shari has tried several times over the years to get into something other than birds and animals. But she always finds herself returning to the field. For one thing, she’s damned good at it. She knows a ton about companion parrots, she is a Vet Tech for Dr. Sam Backos and she is a whiz with a nail file and scissors: She is a also a top notch groomer. She is very laid back and relaxed and doesn’t mind a few of my bonehead questions here and there.

Shari and Parker

Shari explains: “I’ve tried to find something else, but I always found myself coming back to the Bird Business. About two years ago I had like an epiphany and I realized, you know what, I guess this is what I do. This is it. It’s who I am. I don’t know why. You know, I was looking at my dog, and I consider myself a dog person. And I was thinking, how come I don’t want to rescue dogs with crooked necks? It is bizarre; my Father thinks I’m an absolute nut.”

As it is with a lot of people who live with them, Shari can’t explain the relationship she has with her birds. She feels that it is a distinctive relationship that goes beyond the sort you have with a dog, and most people can’t comprehend it until they begin living with one.

Shari is of the opinion that some people who have birds still didn’t quite understand what their birds are capable of. But if you understood the abilities of companion parrots and take the time to train them and teach them, it opens up a whole new relationship. I agreed with her on this as one of the things that I came to understand in my training classes with Susan Friedman and Steve Martin is that training is a form of communication, a language of its own.

“You are a teacher, and it means that you are in this growing relationship with something. Take dogs for instance; We’ve sort of “dumbed them down” so that they can mold better with us. But parrots are always learning, so you have to have a different sort of respect for them.”

Shari believes that the innate wildness of parrots tends to lend itself to their intelligence in that they haven’t had years of breeding for abilities other than survival.

“I agree that parrots are, at best third generation away from the wild.  They are so sensitive, so intuitive and so intelligent, that they deserve all the respect that we can give them. A long time ago people wanted to decide what made humans different than animals: tool use. But animals use tools; Jane Goodall blew that out of the water. But we also know that they have complex societies, they remember things, they learn about strategy. And now there’s this thing about being self-aware. Do I know I exist? So now sentience is now the criteria for what makes us different from the animal world.”

Shari Mirojnick always had an interest in animals and reads books on birds in the wild as well as books on companion birds. And like many in the business of birds, she worries over many things including the impending extinction crisis looming on the horizon for many of the parrot species.

Sheri recognizes the need for breeders, yet she is frustrated by the necessity of it in view of the growing number of birds that are in parrot rescues without permanent homes.

“Everybody wants a baby, and if people didn’t buy babies, breeders would be out of business.”

Shari has been in and out of the bird business for years, but she has had birds for over 25 years, a huge amount of time compared to my paltry 8 years or so and her experience and confidence shows in the way she handles any bird.

As it is with a lot of people who live with them, Shari can’t explain the relationship she has with her birds. She feels that it is a distinctive relationship that goes beyond the sort you have with a dog, and most people can’t comprehend it until they begin living with one.

Shari Mirojnick is one of the people I’ve always gone to when I need a fact checked, a clarification on an issue or simply need some information I can’t find. Her knowledge is almost encyclopedic and her love for the field is evident.

When she was at UCLA she studied Musicology, which is, as one of her Professors put it, ‘the scholarly study of Western Art Music’.

Shari once said to me, “I used to lean over to one of my friends in class and say, ‘I am going to be so boring at parties.’ And you know what, now I really am. My Mother sometimes says, ’Okay, okay enough about birds.’”

Boring? Ummm, no. This is Shari with her band she had a few years ago. They were called, “The Maneaters.”

Shari may be many things: experienced, fearless when rehabbing a relinquishment, student of aviculture, a certified teacher and experienced avian vet tech. But boring? Not a chance!

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