I’m always up for a good party. I’m always up for learning something new. And if you know me I’m always up for seeing friends. The Houston Parrot Festival pretty much provides all of these.

If you haven’t hit the Houston Parrot Festival yet, I highly suggest you save up for next year. Starting now. I mean it. And you need to do this for quite a few reasons.

First of all, it’ll do you good to get out of the house. I know, I know, you hate to leave your birds, but you have an entire year to get someone trained to look after them while you’re gone. And you should have someone else trained to do it anyway. You know that.

You’re also going to learn something whether you like it or not. If you come to the Houston Parrot Festival, you can’t help but learn something about birds, conservation, foraging, etc.

They have vendors and products here at really amazing prices. You like Kaytee food for your birds? Well, come meet the product reps! Talk to them. Tell them what you’d like to see in their line. They don’t bite, I assure you. And I know they would love to meet you as well.

How about meeting Barbara Heidenreich? If you haven’t met her, she’s usually here and can expand on or explain anything you didn’t quite understand in one of her videos.

Robin Shewokis is usually here with her line of “Leather Elves” toys. They are fabulous toys and she is expert at explaining foraging and enrichment techniques. Yes, foraging and enrichment is the “New Black” in the Parrot World, just as positive reinforcement training was a few years back. She’s also very funny, with a wit that is as dry as the Sahara.


Robin Gets Set Up

The Festival also gives you the opportunity to bid in a live auction, a silent auction and they have raffles that give you the chance to win really great stuff. Tickets are a dollar each.

Some of the speakers are absolutely incredible. Dr. Susan Clubb was here this weekend. So was Dr. Natalie Antinoff. Just as an aside, Natalie was the recipient of the African Grey / Blue & Gold / Indian Ringneck feather scarf I made. Someone else won the scarf at the live auction and gave it to Natalie. Natalie is very tiny so it looked more like a shawl on her, but from her reaction, I could tell she was pretty happy about it.

Rick Jordan spoke on Sunday and let me tell you something; it was one of the most dynamic and powerful speeches about aviculture that I’ve ever heard. He essentially began by saying, “Somebody has to say this, so I might as well do it.”  His presentation title was “Is There a Future For Aviculture?” Suffice it to say, he thinks the future is a little bleak if we don’t change a few things. I’m glad he said what he said, because the subject matter is a little touchy and involves every aspect of the industry. But if anyone could have pulled it off, it’s Rick.

Now I’ve heard many of these people speak before. And I’ve come to know a lot of people who are Festival “Regulars.”  It’s always good to see them. I’m familiar with most of the toys, the products, the literature, the DVDs and information. However, I learned of a new product that absolutely knocked my socks off. It’s this:

It’s called Living World Clay-Cal. It’s made by Hagen and it’s HARI tested and HARI approved and believe me, that says a lot!

Let me explain what this stuff is: In a word, it’s clay. But it’s more than that. Clay-Cal contains a type of clay called montmorillonite clay, which is a type of bentonite clay. No, I had no idea what that was, so I took a trip to the dictionary and looked it up in order to save you the trip. Bentonite clay is a type of volcanic clay that has highly absorbent properties. It can even suck up microscopic crud. So what Living World did was mill this stuff for parrots and passerines and combine it with charcoal and calcium.

Now you might ask, “Well gee, thanks for the chemistry lesson, but what in the hell does it do for my birds?”

Here’s what it does: When you feed it to your birds by sprinkling it on your bird’s food a couple of times a week, it passes through their digestive system and absorbs toxic secondary compounds and impurities. Not everything we absorb and are exposed to is good for us. It’s the same with our birds. I don’t care how well you scrub the vegetables you feed your birds, you’re not going to get all of the fungus and bacteria off of them. If your birds chew on wood toys, branches or perches, they are going to pick up fungi, more bacteria, tannins in the wood and mostly likely a few other undesirables along the way. It’s called “Life” and that’s just the way it is. But Clay-Cal has the ability to pass through your bird, pick up and hold all of these impurities and crud and safely carry it out in their waste. This is not grit and will not impact in the crop.

Now you might notice I mentioned that it had charcoal and calcium in it. Yes it does. The calcium additive is a no-brainer, but the charcoal is interesting. Charcoal is given to people who have ingested a poison or an impurity in the emergency room. It also has the ability to absorb stuff, rendering it inert.

If you think about it, you can get a facial that includes a clay mask that “pulls impurities out of your skin.” Activated charcoal is also used in emergency rooms for counteracting the effects of ingested poisons. It absorbs irritants in the stomach and intestines and is useful for other conditions, as well, such as diarrhea, indigestion and intestinal gas. It just makes sense that this would be effective as a detox agent and routine maintenance item for our parrots.

I’ve always said that I love products and ideas that make sense. This is one of them.  So you see, you can always learn something new at the Festival. It’s finding out about stuff like this that makes going to the Festival worth your time.