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  SALLY BLANCHARD'S BLOG 2006
 

The photographs and graphics have been removed from the Blog

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2006

The view from the front door of the Laughing Parrot Gallery. Wow - a real blizzard!

I moved to Colorado a year ago September so this is my second winter here. Last winter was easy with very little snow and certainly not enough to complain about ... maybe there was an inch or so on my back porch - just enough to make a nice sized snowball to show my then bedridden mother who didn't believe it was actually snowing. She had lived in California for 41 years.

I am now  experiencing (as many others are) a real snow storm - a blizzard. It has snowed all day and at least a few times when I looked out the window, the wind was blowing the snow horizontally. The is a 2 foot drift at my back door, which means that when the dogs go out again, I will have to find the snow shovel which is probably under a foot of snow on the patio. I know that many people reading this will say, "so...?" because they are used to this kind of weather. After living in the San Francisco Bay Area for over 20 years, I doubt if I saw more than a few snow flakes for at least that long.

Luckily there was no reason I had to go outside today! All of the businesses here in downtown Loveland were closed except for the bar next door. I watched four people struggle and slip through the snow and ice from their car to get to the bar's entrance. Sometimes it amazes me what people will do for a drink.

My parrots are all quite cozy upstairs in what could have been the dining room. Melissa is due here tomorrow but if she even makes it, I am sure she will not bring Lucy. Lucy is her Red-lored Amazon. Lucy usually comes on Thursday. Melissa brings Dory on Tuesdays - she is a DYH chatterbox who wiggles almost constantly and loves to play on the atom. Dory is a bell ringer and can fight the bell for hours. Phoenix, Melissa's Green-wing comes in on Fridays. He really impresses the people who come into the store!
 

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2006

Does anyone out there have a  Grey-cheek parakeet or know someone who does?  In the 1980's, they were one of the most popular parrots on the market. Of course most, if not all, of the birds were imports. They were often called Pocket Parrots and they were definitely a personality packed little parrot. Grey-cheeks were very bonded and loyal to their primary caregiver but a drawback was that they were often quite territorial and could be aggressive to other people. They could also be noisy little guys but the people who loved them really loved them. They were always little busy-bodies and had to be supervised since they would get into almost anything and they loved to wander around on the floor if they could get away with it. Over the time I worked with them, I knew of at least 3-4 who were underfoot and died when they were stepped on. As I remember, there was a serious problem with many of them having Avian TB. The bird shop that I worked in one Christmas sold quite a few of them but they also had a room upstairs where they put sick birds and birds deemed unsaleable. There were more than a few grey-cheeks up there who had plucked all of their chest, belly, and back feathers. I have often wondered if this was a symptom of the Avian TB that just wasn't understood back then.

What is interesting to me is that such a popular parrot would almost completely disappear from the market in such a short time.  When imports were banned, with most popular parrots, people started breeding them so the species went from being commonly imported to being raised in captivity with a minimal impact in their numbers as human companions. I have heard that the grey-cheek is difficult to breed but I personally don't know anyone who breeds them now. I have seen them advertised on the Internet but other than that, I hear very little about them and the other Brotogeris species.

I remember I told one woman to make sure that her grey-cheek got a variety of veggies and fruits. A week or so later, she brought the bird to be groomed. There was a whole orange, a whole apple and a half a pineapple in the bottom of the cage. (This was probably not as strange as the woman that I told to give her African Grey well-cooked fresh chicken a few times a week. She called me about 6 months later and told me her grey was plucking. I went over to see what was going on and she told me that her grey was in the kitchen eating her chicken. When I went into the kitchen, the grey was chest deep in the carcass of a greasy rotisserie chicken ... no wonder the bird was plucking.)

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 27, 2006

I have been working on clay Christmas ornaments of parrots. So far I have done a caique, a cockatoo, and an African Grey, but I am working on others which I will put up for sale on my art pages.

I just finished a funky 3 piece Amazon parrot Sculpture with a Yellow-nape, a Blue-front, and a Double-yellow Head. The theme is "Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil, See No Evil."  I think that Amazon Parrots lend themselves very well to this theme - even more so than monkeys.

 I also did an "Umbrella" Cockatoo that sold very quickly on Ebay. I have some other ideas for interesting parrot sculptures and wild bird sculptures that I can do, So I will be working on more of them from time to time.

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 2006

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 2006

There a few people within the world of parrots who have really made a big difference.  Many of them started out as people who had companion parrots and have gone several extra miles. My friend, Barbara Bailey, is one of them. She started Tucson Avian Rescue and Adoption (TARA), which has an excellent record for finding new homes for parrots, some who need a great deal of rehabilitation. Even though the photo shows Barbara with her macaw Kitty, Barbara specializes in Cockatoos and has written several articles for the Pet Bird Report/Companion Parrot Quarterly about these intelligent and sometimes difficult companions. It was on a visit to her home full of Cockatoos, that I watched my Caique screaming his head off. The profound question is, "Does a Caique really scream in a household of Cockatoos if no one can hear him?"

Barbara became involved in Project Bird Watch (Indonesian Parrot Project) and with Dr. Stewart Metz, and now with the organizational skills of Bonnie Zimmerman, has turned it into a highly respected conservation organization. Recently Project Bird Watch started introducing smuggled Moluccan (Seram) Cockatoos back into the wild. Barbara and her husband Bruce have also been strong supporters of my parrot education endeavors.

Barbara has been ill for some time and is now in Seattle in the Fred Hutchinson Bone Marrow Transplantation Program. For the last few weeks, she has been undergoing tests. On December 2, she will start chemotherapy and on the 8th, she will have a bone marrow transplant. Her brother is the donor. This is a serious procedure but the odds for success are higher than they would be without treatment. Once she survives the transplant, the odds are in her favor that health will be restored.

I look forward to seeing Barbara with her energy and dedication restored.  More than anything, I know that she wants to visit Indonesia again and see first hand the progress of the organization that is so important to her.

I ask that you keep Barbara in your thoughts and prayers. We need her renewed energy back in the world of parrots!

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 2006

Without Comment II ... On October 5th I wrote about seeing 4 macaws sitting in front of the city theater across the street. There was no one watching them but the birds were quite nonchalant about just sitting there. They attracted a great number of people and most of the people left them alone and just wondered why they were there with no one watching them. When I finally did find out who owned them, it was a woman and her male friend who were eating in a nearby restaurant. When she came out, she told me that she did this all of the time and the birds loved the attention. I personally wasn't as concerned about the birds taking off as I was about the people they might attract. I told the woman this and she said she had never had any problem ... I wanted to add the word "yet." She went into great detail about how important the birds were to her and how they went everywhere with her. Friday the woman's male friend came in and asked us if we would be interested in buying any used cages. The woman was moving in with him and he didn't like the macaws so she was giving them to a rescue organization.

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2006

Having the Gallery can be interesting. We don't get a lot of visitors yet who are really bird people. We've certainly had more parrot people than wild bird people. I think that if you love one, it is natural to be interested in the other but it isn't always so. What is interesting to me is the number of people who wander in that used to have a parrot or have a friend or relative that used to have a parrot. I hear the term "used to have" a lot. Of those who have come in that do have a parrot, many of them have never read a parrot magazine or book. I have also heard the words "got rid of" a lot. These are my least favorite words. There is a vast difference in attitude between saying, "I found my parrot a good home." and "I got rid of my parrot." 

Parrot Allergies or Seed Allergies?? A couple came in and told me that they inherited a very talented Amazon from a friend but had to find him a home because of allergies. The bird was fed a predominantly seed diet, which makes me wonder. I love to wonder about parrot related stuff ... in fact my brain rarely shuts down. When I first got parrots, I had some rather intense allergic reactions. As time went by I realized the the major allergy I had was to the peppers in seed mixes. When I made a point to buy seed without peppers, I found out that I was still somewhat allergic to the seed mixes. This became really obvious to me when I worked for a short time at a bird shop. They kept seed mixes in large bins and I often poured bags of seed into the bins. This caused me some serious allergies reactions. I still use seed but I buy really clean seed in small packages and have little or no problems with it.  Once I stopped using seed in large amounts a lot of my allergy problems went away. In talking with the people who really wanted a parrot again, I wondered if their allergies were actually to the seed and not to the parrot?

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 2006

Last weekend I was in Guelph, Canada to speak at the Canadian Parrot Conference. The first time I spoke in Canada was in 1990 or 1991 at the Canadian Parrot Symposium and I spoke in Toronto almost every other years since. Now the conference is sponsored by a different group but it continues the tradition. I talked to several of the same people I have seen for years but also spent time with others that I hadn't gotten to know as well before. Suzan Berezuk from Tikibird Aviary in Burlington, Canada let me visit her room to see two adorable baby Meyer's parrots she brought because she was feeding them. There were several parrots at the conference so I didn't handle the babies but they sure are cute with their little yellow shoulders.  Poicephalus are a family of parrots I haven't spent a lot of time with so I am always delighted to visit with knowledgeable breeders and people who have them as pets. Suzan only breeds Poicephalus and I got to talk with her about their unique personalities. Meyers are such beautiful little birds. Suzan really loves the little Brown-headed parrots. I guess people think they are not that colorful but they certainly have a subtle beauty. With good care, their feathers can be iridescent and the color on the inside of their wings is intense. It is their personality that wins people over. The ones I have known are incredibly sweet and they tend to stay that way to everyone in their lives.

Is this a face that only a mother could love? Actually no. I can't remember his name for sure bit he was one of three birds at the WEEP booth and he is a very popular bird. Once you spend some time with him, he grows on you. He is actually pretty cute! Because of the bad press, in my ignorance, I was surprised at how clean and shiny he was. He is a Their educational birds are Socrates, Einstein, and Whistler but I can't remember who was who. My guess is that the Turkey Vulture is Whistler. The other two birds were a majestic Great Horned Owl and a stunning Broad-winged Hawk. WEEP stands for  Wildlife Education and Environmental Programs and is a program sponsored by the Ontario Veterinary College of the University of Guelph. 

Its fun to be traveling again and the best part of it is the people I get to spend time with and sometimes, the birds I get to meet.

SATURDAY OCTOBER 28, 2006
Downtown Loveland had its big Halloween celebration today. Hundreds of kids come downtown to Trick or Treat and many stores pass out candy. This was our first year and we were surprised at how many goblins, power ranges, spider men, princesses, mummies, ghouls, and various animals came into the shop for candy. We started with 10 bags of various kinds of candy and I had to make 3 more candy trips because we kept running out. Of course we had lines to come in the Laughing Parrot because we had live parrots for everyone to see. Melissa, my assistant, brought Phoenix, her Green-wing to work and he was very popular. When she wasn't holding him, Paco, my 31 year old Double-yellow head Amazon was on her shoulder. The gallery was actually named after Paco because she laughs so much. I called my consultation business "The Laughing Parrot" almost 30 years ago because of her laughter. Paco laughed all day for just about everyone and often told them Goodbye after they got their candy. I would guess we had around 600 to 800 people come into the galley. Very few of them were very interested in all of the bird stuff we have but a few said they would come back when there was less of a crowd downtown. Melissa's year old nephew Tyler came in dressed as "his cousin" Phoenix. He also won Fourth prize in the city costume contest. He borrowed some old tail feathers from Phoenix and Melissa's sister made the rest of his costume. He is very cute! 

SATURDAY OCTOBER 5, 2006

Without Comment ... There is a restaurant across the street. For over an hour, 4 macaws have sat outside on some nearby sculptures on the sidewalk. There is no one watching them. They are happily preening and hanging out. I went over to investigate who they belonged to and finally found that the owners were having dinner in the restaurant. The woman finally came out to check on them. The birds were exceptionally well behaved as dozens of people walked by and talked with them. Obviously the macaws are used to being in public places with lots of people around. A very loud motorcycle stopped for traffic and revved up but the macaws showed little reaction. I wasn't that concerned about the birds getting down or taking off. I took dozens of pictures of them with my digital camera for drawing references. I talked with the birds for some time and many people thought they were mine because I had on a parrot shirt. Like me, the people were surprised that the birds were outside unsupervised. My major concern was people who were trying to handle the birds. Among the crowd of observers were 3 adolescent boys who have actually come into the Laughing Parrot Gallery and have tried to tease our birds. Even though the boys were being jerks around the birds, the macaws stayed put. The people came out of the restaurant and came over to the gallery for a short time. Then they gathered up their macaws and left.

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 18

Today John Brasaemle and his wife, Carol, came up to get his watercolor paintings from our gallery show.  We sold 3 of his paintings, which is probably not bad for our first gallery show. He had to get them for a Artist in Residency show next weekend. The walls look very empty so I will have to get to work on the next display.

I took the afternoon off. I hadn't had a chance to get up into the Mountains so I took Dewey, my Hovawart, for a ride up to Rocky Mountain National Park. (There is a picture of Dewey on my "flock and family" pages if you don't know what a Hovawart looks like. It was beautiful since the trees are changing color. There were elk everywhere and I could hear their high-pitched bugling all over. At one point a herd with a huge bull was crossing the road. Of course when this happens, cars stop everywhere and wait for the elk to saunter across the road. There were quite a few calves of varying sizes. A mother stopped to let her calf suckle right next to my car. I grabbed my digital camera, turned it on, and framed my shot only to have the words "battery low" flashed on the screen. No photo but it was a fantastic sight to see. Last weekend when I drove up to Wyoming, we saw a small group of Pronghorn Antelope and a fox. I need to look it up to know what kind it is for sure but it was very handsome. Since Dewey was with me on my drive today, I didn't get much bird watching in but did see some Mountain Chickadees and a Clark's Nutcracker (haven't seen one of those for years!). 

I did go and play with the babies at a local aviary yesterday. This time I concentrated on three very adorable Timneh Greys, a wonderful Lesser Jardine's hen and two baby Greatbills that exuded intelligence. I fell in love with the little Jardine's. I worked with quite a few Senegals, and a few of the others but  Poicephalus became more popular after I did most of my consultations with parrots so I do not have nearly as much experience with them. A local aviary raises Red-bellies, Brown-heads, Senegals, and Jardine's. Playing with the babies and the young birds at the aviary is giving me a lot more hands-on experience with Poicephalus and I am very impressed with them. I also played with a young and very colorful Blue-front. He went to live with a woman after he was weaned a year or so ago but his new caregiver was killed in a car accident so the little Blue-front is in need of a good home. He is a bit shy but he is very tame and well-behaved.  The baby Greatbills are dolls. While I have read many times that they do not like to be touched, they certainly welcome it when they are babies. Great-bills are one of those parrots who observe and evaluate everything and they start this at a young age. When they look at you, it is as if they are looking into your soul. A Great-bill would be a perfect parrot for someone like me. According to reports, they tend to be crepuscular (active at twilight) and/or nocturnal. Since I am also crepuscular and semi nocturnal, a Great-bill would be fun to have to keep me company well into the night as I work. My grey, Whodee, keeps me company many evenings but he starts yawning long before I actually go to bed

Watching the baby Poicephalus play together on the Atom toy was a delight. Most of the birds get along well but there is always an exception. The two baby Eclectus were sitting on the arm of the couch when one of the hand-feeders came in with a basket of Blue-headed Pionus, Yellow-shoulder Amazons, and a single Black-headed Caique to hand feed. The Caique has been raised in the same playpen with the Pionus and YS Amazons so he considers them his family. However he is intent on removing the other birds from the face of the earth. He propelled himself across the room and flew right at the male Eclectus, knocking him to the floor and not letting go until we jumped in to rescue the Eclectus. This is a normally sweet baby Caique who isn't weaned yet ... what is it with these caiques? I'd say it was TMT except I have heard about hens who are also this full of themselves.

I was going through some paperwork from many years ago when Spike first came to live with me. He is at least 17 years old. He was about a year old when he came to live with me. It is hard to imagine that I have had him in my life this long. He has shown his share of aggression to various people in my life but still remains very devoted to me.

SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 16, 9 pm

This week I am finally getting my "artist's studio" arranged in the loft above the back of the gallery. I am excited by this because it will give me a place to create various projects without it being a mess in the rest of the store. I am working on several projects: colored pencil parrot drawings, Polymer clay sculptures of parrots, a cockatoo painting, and two life-size sculptures - one of a baby Umbrella cockatoo and one of a Rockhopper penguin.

I am also working on the next issue of the CPQ - I can still use a few more Friends of the Hyacinth Macaw stories. Anyone have a Hyacinth???

We had a very nice couple from England come into the Laughing Parrot Gallery today. I really enjoyed talking with them about English birds. When I lived in London as a teenager, I liked to watch birds but not enough to really identify too many of them. When I went back to speak at a parrot conference in England, I got a chance to do some bird watching. There were 4 birds that I definitely wanted to see: the European Robin, the European Blackbird, the Blue Tit and the Long-tailed Tit - the last two are related to our chickadees and are really delightful little birds. I spent two days in London and then took the train to Stratford for the Conference. That afternoon, I found a canal near the hotel and went for a walk. All 4 of the birds that I was so anxious to see were all on the same tree.   I thanked the birds for their show and went and took a nap since I had flown to England on a night flight and was still tired. I did get in some more bird watching before I left England and saw many wonderful birds.

This last Tuesday night I went to a meeting. The speaker was a 62 year old woman who wanted to do something different after her children grew up and moved away. She applied for a job working at McMurdo Station in Antarctica. She started working in the galley washing mounds of pots and pans but now she drives the big transport buses on the ice for 2-4 months during the Antarctica summer.  Sometimes they see Emperor and Adelie Penguins and sometimes they don't. One of the rules is that no one messes with the wildlife but when a plane comes in if there are penguins on or near the ice runway, the have to be pushed off with cardboard. When people fly down there to work, they gather in Christchurch, New Zealand and then fly in a C130 cargo plane cramped into bucket seats. The plane is fitted with skies and offloads supplies while it is still moving and only stops long enough for the people to rush off. If it stayed on the ground too long, it wouldn't be able to take off because of the temperature, which I think she mentioned was -55 during the summer but I can't remember if that is Fahrenheit or Celsius ... but it is very cold . Then they are driven to the buildings on one of these huge bus like vehicles. This is certainly a unique way to deal with empty-nest syndrome?

Last weekend, I went for a ride up to Cheyenne and Laramie Wyoming just to get away. There is a beautiful rock area between Cheyenne and Laramie - I believe it is called Vedauwoo Glen. It is a very beautiful area for picnics but it was pouring rain so we ate in a restaurant. We found a fun gallery in Laramie that was featuring a show of Wyoming women artists.

Sunday afternoon I went over to a local aviary and became a playgym for 3 delightful Green-cheek Conure babies. I also got to socialize some very cute Timneh Greys, a wonderful Red-fronted Macaw, and a 6 week old brother and sister Eclectus. They also had baby Blue-headed Pionus and Yellow-shouldered Amazons, which are one of my very favorite birds. There are also dumpling Green-winged Macaws. I may go over again tomorrow just to play with the babies.

 FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 8, 10:00 pm

I have not been able to do my blog for weeks because the people who have my web site server were changing equipment and I have not been able to add anything to this page for weeks. Finally tonight I tried again and it works!

I have been really busy since my last post.  I went to Minnesota for a week to give a program at Parrot Island and goof off for a few days. I haven't been able to goof off for such a long time. I always enjoy doing seminars at Parrot Island. They are well attended but most of all the people who come are the most highly educated bird people in the area. I wish there was a bird shop of that quality in every state that I could visit once every few years. One of the highlights of my trip to visit the Minneapolis area was going to their new Trader Joe's. I really miss this store chain that I frequented in the SF Bay Area and there are none in Colorado. My mother loved their Shrimp Tempura and so do I. One time when Shari was visiting me my mother ate almost a whole package ... 20 shrimp. So we got the TJ Shrimp Tempura and ate way too much of it in honor of my mother.

I got to spend time visiting my Double Yellow-head Rascal who went to live with Troy Beaudoin last year. Rascal is really happy with Troy and he certainly takes exceptional care of the 29 year old Amazon. I am really happy that Rascal found such a great home. Terry and Shari Beaudoin have an created a wonderful yard with all sorts of bird feeders and a wonderful Koi pond with a waterfall. It was very relaxing to just sit out there and watch the fish. Makes me wish I had a pond but I don't even have a yard anymore.

I had a wonderful deck that was nice to sit out on a nice evening but that has been ruined by a new smoking law in Colorado. My store and home are next to a bar. It was rarely a problem but when the law passed that no one could smoke in bars, it meant that the bar next door opened a smoking patio right below my deck and my bedroom window. I stopped smoking years ago and I develop asthma when I am around cigarette smoke. There are up to 25 or 30 people smoking within a dozen feet of my living space from 11 am to 2 am every night. Luckily I am a night person but some nights I would like to go to bed before 2 am. Even with earplugs the noise is horrendous. It is amazing how loud people who are drinking can get. Now they are setting up a TV out on the patio so they can have sports programming on from 11 am to 2 pm  Because I live in a business zoned area, I have no rights and no legal ground to complain according to the local police department. Of course it also means that my parrots can't spend time in their outdoor cages on the patio, which is a real bummer.

We accomplished a lot with the store. There is a small basement below the store but most of it contained an old boiler heater that was installed in 1919. It almost as big as a VW bug. I hired two young men to disassemble it. At first they tried to do it gently and then they went at it with a sledge hammer. It took a few days and a few trips to recycling and now I have storage space in the basement so we moved the stuff from the loft in the store to the basement and now I have a sculpture studio in the loft. Now the trick will be finding the time to do more artwork!

Tonight was the Loveland Art Walk. People come downtown and usually have dinner at one of the many fine restaurants - then they visit the galleries and stores that stay open for the event. We had a few dozen people come in but only a few were people who really enjoyed all of the good bird stuff.  We finally got a bunch of press releases sent out to Bird clubs, Audubon societies, colleges, magazines, and newspapers. Hopefully more people will hear or read about the Laughing Parrot Gallery and Avian Education Center.

An added note: I finished a new Booklet, which is now available at our Ebay store - companion parrot - It is called "My Experiences with Cockatoos" and is 54 pages. Click on the cover for more information.

SATURDAY AUGUST 5, 1am

Today was one of those days that wears me out and when I am this worn out I find it difficult to sleep. So I gave up for awhile and finished a color pencil drawing I had been working on for some time. It is on 4 Black-headed Caiques foraging and is the largest color pencil drawing I have done. I like the way it came out and may even make a print of it some day. I am hoping to have a few more art pieces available for the Grand Opening on next Friday evening.

We are really working to get the gallery ready for out Grand Opening, which includes the opening of a showing of John Brasaemle's watercolors on Friday evening August 11 from 7-9. This is the same weekend as Loveland's famous sculpture show so there will be a lot of people here for it. Since so many people will be in Loveland for that show, I figured this would either be the best or the worst weekend to have the show. John painted the Scarlet Macaws on the cover of the current issue of the CPQ and the first page of the Friends of the Scarlet Macaws color section. I have always loved his work and have had a better chance to get to know him and his wife, Carol, here in Colorado.

We also hope to have our CPQ/Laughing Parrot Gallery brochure available for the weekend.

If you live within a drivable distance, please come to visit us at our Grand Opening on Friday night or during anytime - The Laughing Parrot Gallery hours are 1-5 Tuesday through Saturday or by appointment.

We've already had quite a few subscribers who have been in Colorado and have come to visit the gallery. So far we have had visitors from New Hampshire, Oregon, Sacramento, San Diego, Los Angeles, Texas, Maryland, Florida, Louisiana, Utah, Arizona, and even a man from Beijing.  I have enjoyed visiting with these out of state visitors.

SATURDAY July 29, 2006 4 pm

We had a call today from a woman who really wanted to know what has happened with the Amazon book. There is a rather complex reason that it has not been finished since it was so close to being done and nothing has happened for a long time. I started the book several years ago with the idea of including information and quotes from many people who had knowledge about Amazons either through working with them or living with them. I was relatively sure that once I got settled here in Colorado, I would be able to take the time to actually work on the pages that needed finishing. Unfortunately I was contacted not too long ago by a lawyer representing a small group of people who previously wrote for the Pet Bird Report and the statement was basically made that I was not to use any of their information in anything I published ever again. This was true even if I had previously had permission to use some of their information and quotes. In the words of the lawyer, I was to act as if these people never existed. Consequently, I will have to rewrite a great deal of the Amazon book to comply with this request. With everything else I have to do, I am not sure how long this will be. However, I do have a booklet that I sell on Ebay. It contains the color portrait section that I did for the Amazon book and an in-depth article I wrote called, "What Amazon Parrots Have Taught Me."

SATURDAY July 29, 2006 2am

I often lose track of time when I am working on projects. Tonight I decided to work with some Sculpty clay. I have previously made a caique, a Grey, and an Umbrella Cockatoo out of this material. They are all "bappies" in a sitting position. I showed a couple of them in an issue - maybe it was #67 or #68.  Tonight I did a little Hyacinth Macaw. Perhaps I will put a photo of him on the web site after I fire him. He turned out pretty cute.

FRIDAY July 28, 2006 10:15 pm

Sometimes I don't have the time to write much here but I'm going to try to write something tonight. I actually received the first email I have had from a reader letting me know that someone is actually reading what I write here ...

The Email

Sally,
Morning from CBS in Tyler, TX!
I've been following you and your work for many years.  Our family has a
9-yr-old Mealy Amazon.. Merlin.. hatched on 7.1.97.
Congrats on your new store!  I've enjoyed reading your Blog -- please
keep it up!
Thanks for all you do for the avian community.  I appreciate your
enthusiasm and desire to "give back."  Keep up the great work!
Scott

Scott Fossey
Morning Weather
CBS-19/KYKX-TV
Tyler, TX

My Response:

Hi Scott,
    Thanks for the encouragement ... it helps keep me going. I'd love to hear more about your Mealy Amazon - I think they are one of the really under rated Amazon parrots. I have met some wonderful Mealy Amazons through the years. One of the first taming sessions I ever did was with a wild-caught Mealy. When I did it, I had never even heard of a Mealy Amazon.  I didn't know the bird's gender but he or she was very responsive to gentle handling.  I think I have always had a special feeling for Mealy Amazons because of that bird. 

Scott has encouraged me to keep writing the blog so I will ...

More on the Cockatoo Conference

If the Cockatoo Conference reinforced one thing for me, it was that we can't make too many generalizations about these birds. I asked the attendees some questions about their cockatoos. One was about the large male cockatoos - Moluccans, Umbrellas, and Tritons - the really smart ones. I asked how many people had them and then I asked how many of those people had serious problems with them. The percentage was not nearly as high as "popular wisdom" would have us believe.  I did a consultation today with a woman who just adopted a previously owned 20 year old male Moluccan Cockatoo. She had been told by several people in the bird world that she should not even give it a chance ... that the bird should go into rescue.

Since I was in grade school and the who class had to stay in at recess because one boy misbehaved, I have desperately tried to avoid judging everyone of anything by one of everything. Before I would possibly agree that this male Moluccan should go to a resce I had to have more information. I couldn't just condemn the 'too to a rescue if he had any pet potential at all. First of all, there are not that many good rescues and there are absolutely some cockatoos that need to go to a rescue. A bird with pet potential would be taking a place that another more difficult bird might need. After talking with the CPQ reader, it was my opinion that she was dedicated enough to work with the bird and that the bird did not appear to have a history of aggression. At this point, he was quite tame. The best time to work with a parrot is at the time it changes homes. At this time, he can't rely on the routines that he or his previous owners have established. If these were negative routines, it is easier to change them and with nurturing guidance, positive routines can be established. We talked at great length about what I call "instructional interaction" and how to work with him ahead of time to teach him distraction behaviors. We also talked about recognizing what aggressive behaviors look like when they start and how to stay focused on him so that she and her husband could see any behavioral changes that could precede aggression. We talked about how to keep him from forming a strong sexual behavior with either of them that would create aggression towards the other. This was the kind of consultation I love to do ... one in which I think I was really able to make a difference in the lives of the bird and the people he lives with. 

Over the years one of my major frustrations has been how easily certain parrot family birds get a bad reputation ... which birds seems to depend on the year.  It makes me wonder if people think there is any parrot that makes a good companion. I hear the stereotypes all of the time. A week or so ago a woman called to ask what bird would make the best companion for her household. I immediately thought of a grey but she had quickly dismissed an African Grey because she had read on the Internet that they were "all neurotic."  So let's see, all Amazons are aggressive, all conures scream, all macaws don't stay good companions past breeding maturity, all greys are neurotic, all cockatoos feather pluck, all male cockatoos are aggressive, all ... blah blah blah blah ad nauseum. If all of this nonsense was true, I wouldn't have talked to hundreds of grey, Amazon, macaw, conure, cockatoo, etc caregivers who love life with their birds.

As more and more people hear about the Laughing Parrot Gallery, we have had more visitors. Several subscribers have visited this part of the country and made a point to come and visit us. We have had visitors from New Hampshire, Oregon, California, Washington DC, Arizona, Michigan, New Jersey, China and lots of people from Colorado.

We are going to have our first show here at the Laughing Parrot on the evening of August 11th. We will be featuring the parrot watercolors of Colorado artist John Brasaemle.  One of his Scarlet Macaw paintings is on the cover of CPQ #70, which should be mailed out next week.

TUESDAY JULY 11, 2006 9:50 pm

I just returned from my trip to Long Island for the LIPS (Long Island Parrot Society) Cockatoo Conference. I always enjoy going back to Long Island. I graduated from high school in Baldwin and went to Hofstra University for my freshman year in college. I hated to leave but my father was reassigned to southern California.

I arrived at 6:35 on Thursday morning after leaving Colorado at 1am. Terri Pakula picked me up and delivered me to a breakfast location half way to Susan Chamberlain's home. A wonderful woman named Lynnette (I have forgotten her last name?) took me the rest of the way to Susan's. After some conversation, I took a long nap. That evening Susan and her husband Billy hosted a LIPS party where I got to see some of my old acquaintances from the bird club and got to meet some new people. Friday was a day of preparation and setting up for the conference.

More information coming on Cockatoos.

SUNDAY JULY 2, 2006 5:26 pm

Issue #70 is at the printer but has been somewhat delayed because I decided to go with a new printer and that always makes everything take longer. The printer I used last time just caused all sorts of problems and it was amazing that the issue even got out.

In my never ending unpacking frenzy, I continue to find things that I forgot I had. Yesterday I came across the most wonderful item. It both delights me and makes me sad. I found a tape that I had made one afternoon about twenty five years ago. My late great African Grey, Bongo Marie, was an incredible talker - in fact she rarely stopped talking if anything was going on around her. A lot of what she said was just a nonsensical combination of her favorite expressions but often she was right on in the things that she said. The tape contains about an hour of her nonsense. There were many words and expressions on the tape that I had forgotten that she said. I certainly was reminded of the time I broke my toe near her cage. Greys - aren't they great! They don't always remember what you say the most but seem always to remind you of what you said with the most enthusiasm. I was also a lot younger then so I guess I was a lot more enthusiastic especially when it came to calling my dogs and informing them of their misbehaviors. I am certainly glad to remember that after awhile, the dogs started to ignore all of Bongo's tirades towards them about their behavior. Sometimes she could be really sweet in what she said to them but other times she ranted and raved about how bad they were.

More later about the tape - I am going to dinner with a friend ...

Dinner was good and afterwards I painted some more of the Library floor. Painting floors is not a lot of fun. Anyway I took a break to come in and watch the 4400 and the Dead Zone so I thought I would finish writing about this tape with Bongo's musings.

Most of Bongo Marie's favorite sayings are on the tape ... over and over. These include:

"Who do you think you are!" or the shorter version "Who do you are?"
"You're in a LOT of trouble!"
"Good to see ya!"
"See ya later - you be good!
"What are you doin?"
"How nice for you!"
"What's the Matter?

Then there are many diatribes against my poor dogs at the time. Chester was my elderly poodle and Kiwi was my Scotty puppy. They are yelled for and at almost continually.  One of the funniest things that Bongo did was to call the dogs and then whistle for them - but the funniest part is that she called me when she called the dogs. She never said my name properly and always called me "Sawee" I was always the last "dog" she would call before she whistled. Bongo also laughed a lot - sometimes normally and sometimes with a maniacal aound. She also called the cat but then insulted her, "KC, you damn cat!"

She did over twenty animal imitations but the tape only includes barking dogs, kookaburras, meows, and one gobble gobble.

My favorite thing on this tape is something I forgot that she said and that is, "I love you Mommy Dearest" in a sweet voice. Sometimes instead she said, "I love you mommy parrot"

The tape is a real blast from the past that I haven't heard for a long time. Bongo was one incredible parrot who shared her life with me for close to 25 years. I will always miss her clever and raucous personality. Read more about Bongo - A Tribute to Bongo Marie

SATURDAY JUNE 17, 2006 12:00

WOW - I have been putting books away ... hundreds of them. All of the boxes are here from storage. When I started packing them over a year ago, I had to pack them according to size and not according to subject.

One wall is all of the parrot and caged bird books and books on endangered/extinct species. I still am not sure where the non-bird wildlife books are going.

The other wall is about 20 feet long with 6 shelves running the whole length except for the bottom two shelves. The bottom shelf is has books about wildlife artists. The second shelf is the birds of various areas of North America. The third shelf has guides and books about birds from different areas and countries of the world. The fourth shelf is bird family and species books sorted according to their classification. The fifth shelf contains scientific and general books on birds.

I am not sure what will go on the top shelf yet because it has to be reached with a ladder. It will probably contain the older books on birds or maybe books on plants?

The library will be open in July or August. It will be available for anyone who wants to do research on birds, artists looking for resource material, people who are traveling and want to research the birds and wildlife of an area before they get there, and for people who just are interested in studying birds and looking at bird books.

Books are heavy when you have to lift a bunch of them and climb up and down ladders with them. This is a time when I really wish I had some help moving them around.  I guess I am about halfway done organizing them.

FRIDAY JUNE 9, 2006 9:30 am

The last two weeks have been very hectic. We removed the garage door from the back room/library and put up a real wall with a window. We painted the library, put up all of the book shelves, put up lighting fixtures and a ceiling fan. In the last few days we have brought about half of the books over and I have placed them on the shelves unsorted. Sorting will come later. It is wonderful to be able to go through my books again! 

MONDAY MAY 21, 2006 10:30 am

Lucy, a 14 year old Red-lored Amazon, has lived with Melissa for 8 years. She had lived in a business in downtown Loveland. She was on a seed only diet and spent much of her time with her cage covered because she was too noisy. They advertised her for sale in the newspaper and she came home with Melissa. It took a few months to get her on a better diet but she is still somewhat food rigid for an Amazon. She doesn't like most women and Melissa thinks this has a lot to do with the fact that the women at the business were always yelling at her and kept her cage covered most of the time. While Melissa was still living with her family, Lucy did not form a strong bond with her. Melissa thinks this is because she preferred her father and, most of all, one of her twin brothers. Once Melissa moved into her own home, a stronger relationship formed between them.

On Saturday, May 13th, Melissa noticed that Lucy had a slight swelling in her lower abdomen that she recognized this as an egg. As the week progressed the swelling increased and Melissa watched Lucy carefully to make sure that she would not become egg-bound. Melissa became a bit alarmed as the week progressed and was planning to take Lucy to her avian veterinarian, Dr. Combs. Melissa relaxed when she found Lucy's egg in the bottom of the cage on Friday morning.

Why would a companion Amazon lay an egg after 8 years of living with someone? At least part of the explanation is obvious. Dory, a 3 year old hen Double-yellow headed Amazon, came to live with Melissa this Spring. At first Lucy treated Dory as if she was a pest but Dory persevered and kept trying to play with Lucy. In the last few weeks, Melissa noticed that Lucy began to respond sexually to the attention of the younger Amazon. She started to hunker down with her body horizontal, flutter her wings and made grunting and cackling sounds.  She also noticed that Lucy had begun to spend more time in a place on the floor next to the couch ... a dark, cozy spot where one of Melissa's sweaters had fallen off of the couch.

Over the years, I have known of many hen companion parrots who have laid eggs for their caregivers. Years ago, a friend of mine had a Yellow-nape Amazon who laid an egg in her lap when they were watching television together. This does not mean they want to breed. It is simply a biological response to stimulation that they perceive as sexual. Is it a health problem for hen companion parrots to lay eggs? Not as long as they are healthy, on a good diet that has adequate calcium, and get a good amount of exercise.  Some parrots on bad diets who get little or no exercise can become egg-bound. This can be a life-threatening problem if the bird does not receive proper medical care. 

This weekend, Tony (the Handyman) came and ripped out an old workbench in the "library to be" and painted that wall. We are pretty much ready to start putting up shelves now when he comes back. Then I can start bringing the books over from storage to put away. That is exciting!

I have to go buy some track lighting for above the slat wall in the storefront and another ceiling fan for the front of the store. The air conditioning and heating in this over 110 year old building was not installed for efficiency.

MONDAY MAY 15, 2006 10:30 pm

Some days go by so quickly and then you wonder what you accomplished. I worked on the CPQ and rearranged one of the display cases so that it would leave us more space in the gallery.

If anyone is reading this, I am beginning to search for bird related items to take on consignment or to resell. Anyone have anything that I could evaluate?

SUNDAY MAY 14, 2006 5:30 pm

This was a really busy week! We made a lot of progress in the shop. The walls had been pretty dirty and a yucky shade of pinky beige.  Now they are a light blue green. The ceiling is at least 15' high so some time ago I bought a 12' A-frame ladder. It really came in handy to do the painting. I'm thinking that if I get brave, I may climb the ladder and paint some flying parrots on the wall. But I will wait to do that since there is so much else to do.

I saw my first Eastern Kingbird here in Colorado today. I haven't seen one of them for a long time. I love the Kingbirds, but my favorite is the Scissortail Flycatcher.

I have also been working on the CPQ, editing articles and doing more illustrations. Not much more to report. I will continue when I have something else to say.

MONDAY MAY 8, 2006 11:00 pm

This weekend I didn't get a lot accomplished. I think I overworked last week moving furniture around in the library area so we could get part of it painted. I was exhausted so I actually took some time to relax and do nothing on Sunday.

Tonight, I finished my article on 'My Experiences with Cockatoos' for the next issue. In thinking back it amazes me how many cockatoos I have known and worked with. I had so many stories to share I ran out of room for this issue and will have to do a Part II for the next issue.  As I was writing I remembered more and more. When I first started doing consultations in the San Francisco Bay Area I put most of my consultations down in a notebook so this helps jog my memory. Some of the notes leave me clueless about the birds but other notes bring back a lot of detail. I think I ay have worked with more cockatoos than any other birds during this time. For example, I wrote in the notebook "Sulfur-crest - garlic on pizza." That one left me blank until I finally remembered writing about another cockatoo. The story of this consultation is in the article. It never occurred to me that I could write a book on Cockatoos but if I keep remembering many more situations with them, I probably could!

Issue #70 is going to be a good issue with lots on Cockatoos and on Scarlet Macaws. "Stuff Your Parrot Wants You To Know" will feature giving your parrot a basic physical exam.

We also got the inside front of the store painted. Tomorrow, Tony (our handyman) will paint the west wall and hopefully he will have the east wall painted by the end of the week. With that and a few more things to hang and clean up - the store part will actually be finished and ready to open. I am not sure exactly when we will open - My guess is that it will be the weekend of June 17th or the week after that. The next step will be to get the library in the back ready to go. One wall has been painted so we can start hanging shelves on that so hopefully I can start placing books in the next few weeks. I really miss my bird books!! There are so many things I want to look up and believe it or not, everything is not on the world wide web.

FRIDAY MAY 5, 2006 8:00

Yesterday and today we got a lot accomplished. Just a bunch of little things that took a long time. We started painting and got the long wall in the library painted. There is a hall between the store front and the library and we got it painted to. There is a plumbing pvc pipe that runs down from the ceiling to the floor about 5" from the all ... it's kind of ugly so I decided to turn it into a tree. I wrapped it in various shades of brown tissue and crepe paper and then used acrylic varnish to patch it and make it look like a tree instead of a pipe. I still need to do the leaves at the top but am not too sure how I am going to go about it yet.

We are going to paint the inside of the store a light blue-green (the library is a light green-blue). I am hoping that one day I will have the time to paint some flying birds up near the ceiling. The ceiling is wonderful. It is a very old decorative tin ceiling and is about 15' high so there is a lot of wall space up high. We have a 12' ladder but I am at this point a little hesitant to climb to beyond the halfway point. Actually it is the climbing down that bothers me. My kitten Lito climbs all the way to the top and then meows to have us come and rescue him. He doesn't do it when Melissa is not here because he knows I am not going to climb up and get him.

Melissa brought her little Double-head, Dory to work today. She is very playful and loves to chatter. Dory is a petite 3 year old hen. Melissa has only had her for a few months. Dory and another Amazon, Sophia (a Green-cheek or Mexican Redhead) lived with a woman who died. Sophia is one of the most exuberant parrots I have ever met. Her favorite expression said with great enthusiasm is, "Soph-ee-ah so beaut-eeee-ful!!"  Dory also has her version of the expression but when she says it the words don't sound nearly as narcissistic. Melissa fell in love with both of them but could only take one because she already has a Green-wing Macaw and a Red-lored Amazon. They are both sweethearts but Melissa chose Dory.

Lucy is Melissa's Red-lored Amazon. She is older and lived in a business location where she received substandard care. Melissa brought her in to visit yesterday. Melissa's mother and one of her sisters stopped by the shop. It was obvious the the sister's presence disturbed Lucy. So Melissa explained the situation to me. Melissa has several siblings and three of them are triplets - two identical men and a fraternal woman. (I didn't know that happened??) Lucy was mistreated by a woman and it took her over a year for Lucy to trust Melissa. Lucy absolutely loves one of Melissa's brothers, likes the identical one as a substitute because the favored twin (triplet) lives out of town. I can barely tell the difference between the brothers but it is obvious that Lucy can. For some reason, Lucy barely tolerates their sister, Melanie (the other triplet.)

Anyone reading this have stories regarding parrots and their recognition of  relationships with twins or triplets?

WEDNESDAY MAY 3, 2006  9:00 pm

Well the handyman got the slat wall finished and trimmed. Now he will start on some painting and putting shelves up.

I did drawings for the CPQ much of the day but also had to run errands for paint, trim nails, spackle, etc. I also had some printer problems that made me quite impatient. It turned out that a card got jammed in the back.

I have one of those Roomba robot vacuums to run over the carpet when we are doing other things. It works ok but it certainly goes in a lot of circles.  It took me a few times to figure out why it would turn on by "itself." I'd be working at the computer and suddenly it would start running around the floor. This happened several times before I realized that my cat, Lito (sometimes Diablito - sometimes Angelito) was turning it on. I'm sure the first time and maybe the second time it was an accident. But now it is one of his favorite forms of entertainment. The Rhomba is in its dock and he pushes on it and it starts vacuuming. When it chases after him, he becomes quite a little sissy but when it is going the other direction, he chases it. This is not the kind of cleaning help I was looking for ... at least I have some extra help!

My assistant, Melissa, mentioned that she saw that some idiot was doing a made for TV movie about the "Bird Flu." This is really scary to me because so many people really love to spread alarm without having all of the facts first and these types of movies always exaggerate everything.  Terry Beaudoin has a good article in CPQ #69 and we also put in on the web site.

I am going to start to set up the display case with the extinct birds tomorrow. I couldn't get that done before because it is next to where we had to set up the slat wall.

Tuesday, May 2, 2006  8:00 pm

I can't promise profound but I will be writing down my thoughts and the progress of what is happening here at the Companion Parrot Quarterly office and the Laughing Parrot Gallery.

My handyman and his son got the slat wall put up this weekend but the job needs some more work  I am hoping that I don't have to do any of it because that stuff is heavy. Slat wall is essentially thick paneling with slots in it that you can use to hang things. The wall with this slat wall will be the gallery part of the store where paintings and artwork that is for sale will be shown.

I am working with John Brasaemele to show his wonderful watercolors as the first actual show in the gallery. This will be convenient since he doesn't live that far away. He has done several covers for the Companion Parrot Quarterly and one of his beautiful Scarlet Macaws will be on the next issue with three more of his paintings on the first page of the article. We are planning on the showing of his work in mid to late June. I will certainly post more information as we make more decisions. If you don't remember John's work, he was the featured artist in the color centerfold of Issue #64.

Almost all of the bird figures I have are now in their proper places in the display cases. In the last two weeks I built a 3'x3' tabletop penguin encounter with icebergs and islands. I have dozens of rubber penguins of 15 penguin species (I am missing 2 species) and they now have a proper home. I will be putting a photo of this on the web site once I find the battery charger for my digital camera. The penguin encounter is on the top (about 45" high) of an old store display and there is another shelf which fits around the middle (about 26" high). One side is a Puffin encounter with cliffs and mountains and ocean. I have most of my puffin collection on this. The other three sides are duck habitat from a "mountain lake/pond" to lakes, a bay and the ocean. Again I have little figures of all of the North American ducks and several from other areas of the world. This display also has a few kingfishers, herons, flying hawks, grebes, swans, and geese. It is very involved with trees, a swamp, a waterfall, and water from the bay going into the ocean.

Of course, the water is not real ... I used Styrofoam and acrylics to get the look for all of the habitats from the icebergs to the mountains and water.

These were a tremendous amount of fun to do and I plan more ... perhaps one of the macaw clay licks but I really don't have enough or the right size little parrots so I will probably have to make them too.

Of course I have also been working on the next CPQ. Today I was formatting the Scarlet Macaw articles and doing some drawings of Scarlets. I have the layout of the magazine pretty much finished now I have to fill in the ads and get some more drawings ready. Hopefully it will be ready for the printer in two weeks. We had so many problems with the printer and the mailing service last time, I am not sure whether we will start over with someone else or hope that they can get it right this time??? 

 





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