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  SALLY BLANCHARD'S BLOG 2008

 

The photographs and graphics have been removed from the Blog

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 19, 2008
I have been meaning to place these photos on the blog for some time but kept forgetting to.  I met this remarkable Amazon parrot when I did the South American Parrot Conference for the Long Island Parrot Society in July. His name is Cancoon and he is 7 years old. His caregiver, Louis Feig, has never seen another bird like him and neither have I. I have worked with Amazon parrots for over 3 decades and I have seen some unusual colorations but I have never seen a parrot like Cancoon. This gorgeous boy is not like any other Amazona auropalliata that I have ever seen. Has anyone reading this seen a Yellow-nape with coloration like this? Let me know.

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2008

A Book "Review" with an Ulterior Motive
I recently discovered this “review” of the Companion Parrot Handbook on Amazon.com
(A friendly reminder - Please buy the book from this website rather than Amazon.com - it will be the updated second edition (new not used!) and I autograph all of the books sold through the companion parrot site!)

 

Supports Breeding Mills, October 9, 2008

By 

M. Bessey "Elephant advocate"

I think Sally knows a lot about parrots as pets, but she supports a bird store with one of the biggest bird breeding mills around - Bird Paradise. [...] Sally speaks every year at the Bird Paradise "parrot palooza." Why is she supporting a store like this one?

This “review” is written by Marianne Bessey, the animal rights activist who spends a lot of time and energy trying to discredit Bird Paradise, a bird store in New Jersey that I have spoken at for the last 2 years. (see October 11 & 24) Their educational "Parrot Palooza" is an extremely successful event and it is a lot of fun to be a speaker. To me, her "review" reeked of personal vendetta and had absolutely nothing to do with the Companion Parrot Handbook or its quality as a source of bird information. I asked Amazon.com to remove this "review" and they agreed that it was inappropriate and removed it. The Companion Parrot Handbook has received 31 reviews – all but 2 have been the highest rating (5 stars), one was a 4 star rating because the man thought I didn’t provide enough health information in a behavior book, and one that had little to do with the information in the book was a 3 star rating by a woman who stated the obvious by saying that I am not the only authority. She hates the word “bappy” and doesn’t think the cartoons in the book are funny ... she said I wasted space with them. Actually many readers have told me how much they love the humor in the CPH. Oh well ... you can't make everyone happy or even make them laugh? Above all, I think parrots should be fun and they will be much happier in our lives together if we all have fun together.

SPEAKING OF THE WORD "BAPPY"
A lot of people have no idea of why I "invented" this word if they haven't read the Companion Parrot Handbook so I thought I would reprint my reasoning from the book on my blog. Here it is ...

I have found after years of working with parrots that far too many novice caregivers think that a fully feathered and weaned bird is no longer a baby. This is mostly because, to the untrained eye, he or she looks much like an adult bird. This is the main reason that I developed the word bappy a few years ago.

Puppies, Kitties and ... Bappies? There is nothing cuter than a frisky little puppy, except maybe a furry ball of a kitten. I’ve often heard folks lament, “the trouble with puppies (kittens) is that they grow up to be dogs (cats).” The same reality is absolutely true with human babies that are oh so cuddly, but eventually grow up to be either well-adjusted or juvenile delinquent teenagers (or something in between) on their way to adulthood. Mammal babies are quite different in appearance and behavior than their adult counterparts. It is very obvious when they are babies and quite evident that they will not continue to look or act the same as they mature. There are even words for the babies of dogs and cats that we humans often keep as companions.

I believe there needs to be a word like ‘puppy’ and ‘kitty’ to distinguish young companion parrots. I think the fact that there is no special term for a baby parrot creates some serious and even dangerous misconceptions, especially for the novice bird owner. We obviously know that a silly-putty blob of a parrot before he has his feathers is a baby. But too many people presume that once a bappy is feathered out and eating on his own, he is no longer a baby. Novices may not realize that a baby parrot is soft and cuddly with velvety shiny feathers, clumsy little rubbery feet, and innocent inquisitive eyes that can melt the heart of all but the most production-oriented breeders. The new caregiver may expect too much too soon and not treat his or her new parrot like the bappy he is. Over the years I have talked to several people who inadvertently mistreated their baby parrots because they thought of them as adults.

I gave a word a lot of thought and even asked readers to make suggestions. I chose bappy because it rhymes with happy. Some people love the word bappy, some are ambivalent, and others despise the word and have let me know in no uncertain terms — some critics have actually been quite insulting. My purpose was to change the way people think about the young, developing parrots who come into their lives — that is what really matters.
 

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 2008

Did anyone watch the Headlines portion of the Jay Leno show last night? In the middle of it, he showed a copy of Bird Talk magazine and pointed to an article mentioned on the cover. The article was called, "Think Your Bird Hates You?"  His comment was that you really had to be a loser for your bird to hate you. My claim to fame is that I wrote the article. Of course, when a parrot seems to turn on his owner, it isn't funny to the person.

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2008

I’m back from Burlington, New Jersey where I spoke at the annual Parrot Palooza at Bird Paradise.  This is my second year and this year there were more people attending than last year. It is always nice to see so many people that I have met over the years. The Long Island Parrot Society brings a bus load of people down to attend the event. Close to 2500 people came through the store on the weekend. Saturday I could barely move around the store because of the crowds. The free educational lectures were full each day with people who wanted to soak up as much information as possible. The animal right’s email barrage obviously had no effect on the success of the event. These mistaken people must think that they are very powerful with the anonymity of the Internet.

I really enjoyed watching the birds in the store. I had previously met a pair of Red-tail Black Cockatoos but I had never had the opportunity to play with a young bird and really enjoyed it. I think I may be biased but groups of Caiques always fascinate me because of their interactions with each other and the other birds. This time, I took a series of photos of 2 White-bellies playing. They started out eating together but then started a long playful wrestling match that was really a delight to watch.     

The people at Bird Paradise make education an important priority and the seminars are free to customers. It was good to see Dr. Pepperberg again. Dr. Irene Pepperberg spoke about the last year without Alex and how they have been working with Griffon to get him “up to speed.”  In the last few years of Alex’s life, he seemed to think that he should have input in Griffon’s training. He often chastised Griffon to “say better.” There are two amazing stories that Dr. Pepperberg tells about Alex and his ability to surprise with his cognitive abilities – hopefully my memory will not distort them too much. One of the tests he had to do consistently was to identify groups of objects on a tray by how many there were of each. For example, there might have been 3 orange 4-cornered wood, 6 blue colored wool balls, and 2 green 3-cornered leather. Alex would be asked, “what matter (color, shape) 6 (3?, 4?)? He had answered these types of questions correctly over and over but a certain number or trials are necessary for the statistics to be scientifically valid. Alex would get bored after awhile. One time during the test, Alex was asked something like “what color 6?” Instead of providing the proper answer, Alex said “5.” This was not the right answer for anything on the tray. The question was repeated. He said “5” again. In sharing her life with such an intelligent parrot, Dr. Pepperberg knew he needed to be cajoled from time to time, so she said something like, “OK Alex, what matter is 5?” He replied, “none” Think about how smart he had to be to come up with that one! The other story is about some CEOs from companies that provide funding for research who were visiting the lab to meet Alex. They were only to be there for a few minutes. Alex was learning phonetics with colored refrigeration magnet letters. He was doing well in his studies and had learned the sounds of several letters. Dr. Pepperberg would hold up a letter and Alex would say the right sound for it. Usually, he would be rewarded but she was trying to get him to give several right answers in the short time the VIPs would be there. Alex asked, “want a nut” each time but she kept showing him letters. He would reply correctly and then ask for a nut again but he didn’t get his nut. After a few letters, he impatiently said, “Want a nut” and added phonetically, “Nuh-uh-ta.” He had learned the consonants N and T but had not yet learned the “uh” sound so it was pretty incredible that he phonetically spelled the word correctly. I know this is not a scientific observation but I lived with an intelligent African grey parrot for 25 years whom I believe exhibited occasional sarcasm and I wonder if Alex should be given credit for that too.

Lara Joseph gave a very interesting and also delightfully amusing presentation about her rescued Moluccan cockatoo, Rocky. The ‘too went from serious aggression to teddy bear with nurturing, enrichment, and positive reinforcement. The video clip I enjoyed the most was one of Lara’s husband having a silly and very enthusiastic conversation with Rocky. She also showed a hysterical clip of her Umbrella Cockatoo playing a peek-a-boo game with a camera through the tube of a roll of paper towels. Madeleine Franco from Las Vegas spoke about re-feathering. She lives with quite an assortment of large parrots; some of them are quite unusual as companions. We had a lot of fun together and I always enjoy getting a good case of the giggles!    

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2008

A response to the harassment and spam email campaign against Bird Paradise and the Parrot Palooza 

Anyone who is associated with the Parrot Palooza educational event at Bird Paradise in New Jersey (October 18th-19th) is being harassed with spam from a group of people with an animal rights agenda. These messages are supposedly from a few dozen people but many are not from legitimate email addresses. Almost all of the messages say the EXACT SAME THING so obviously one person wrote it and it is being copied and resent by people who haven't even taken the time to express themselves. I doubt if many, if any, of them have actually been to Bird Paradise. Do any of these naive people have an original thought of their own? I wonder how many of the people from other countries really even know what these messages say. A good number of these messages are not even signed.  It is amazing to me that there are people who really think that this kind of harassment would change anyone's mind about anything.

I think most halfway intelligent people realize that any being in the care of the human race can suffer (including children, women, elderly people, the disabled, parrots, dogs, cats, reptiles, horses, rabbits, hamsters, etc., any domesticated farm animal, and any living creature in the wild that mankind chooses to obliterate from existence in the name of progress or sport.) In a perfect world, all people and animals would be treated with care and concern. However, these same halfway intelligent people must also realize that many of these animals, especially companion animals, DO NOT suffer. For over 30 years I have been working with people who love their companion animals and do provide a good home for their parrots. People, sometimes even those with good intentions, refuse to acknowledge that there are many parrots who do have good lives as human companions.

As with dogs and cats, I am totally aware that there is a problem with people not keeping their birds and there is definitely a need for legitimate rescues and sanctuaries. I do recommend that people take in a previously owned bird but the reality is that there are still many people who want a baby parrot. I am not here to condemn these people; I am here to educate them. Parrots have been kept as pets for hundreds of years, and this is not likely to change. It certainly won't change with the harassing approach many of the AR people are taking. I would rather have these people be able to buy babies who have been socialized and cared for in a positive manner. I would also hope that the seller provides the buyer with information and referrals to help them keep their babies healthy and tame. So when a store meets these criteria, I applaud them because there are many stores and breeders that don't. It is a fact that parrots are much more likely to stay in a home with educated caregivers. I have made my position on companion parrots clear in many articles over several years.

I am hoping to cast some reality into what has been said about Bird Paradise, especially for the person who is sending these messages without really knowing the situation. The bottom line here  for many Animal Rights people is whether parrots should be kept as human companions in cages. I will admit to mixed emotions about this from time to time. However, I absolutely believe that there are beloved parrots who are content as human companions. As with everything, there is a flip side and it is a serious problem to which there are no easy solutions. I find it amazing how many of Animal Rights people condemn anyone who breeds or sells parrots, yet blindly support "rescues" even if the people are essentially "hoarders" and the parrots receive terrible care. In thirty years of working in the world of parrots, I have seen an absolute improvement in the knowledge, understanding, and care of parrots in this country.

I have read quite a few messages on the forum of the animal rights club from New York and it is obvious to me that for many of the people involved in this campaign against Bird Paradise, it won't matter what anyone says or writes.  They have their often obsessive agenda and will mold anything to fit it. This is why I will not engage any of them in a dialog about parrots. Their forum messages are full of vitriolic arguments, name calling, absolute black and white thinking, and massive generalizations. One message I read was so full of such hostile hatred for Kathy Lance (the Bird Paradise owner) that, in my opinion, it bordered on psychotic ... I would guess that the writer needs to be back on her meds. (Note on December 20: I received a sarcastic email from a man who was upset with me regarding my preceding statement about the woman "needing to be back on her meds." My statement was quite specific and was not a generalization to put down anyone who takes medication for their physical or emotional health. He interpreted this as regarding anyone who disagrees with me. I believe it is quite clear that I am referring to the writer of a specific message on a public forum. The unnamed person wrote a message that was full of rage and presented extremely violent imagery in regards to what the writer believed should happen to another human being. I seriously believe anyone with that kind of anger who presents such intense malevolence towards another person does have problems that could be helped by psychiatric care that probably would include medication. No, as the man who wrote the email sarcastically inferred, I am not a doctor but I am intelligent enough to form an opinion that someone may need the help of one when she or he is consumed by that kind of rage. ) 

As for Kathy's anger towards the pickets; I believe it would be very difficult for any sane person to remain calm when there are people outside of their place of business provoking and taunting them with a sign that says "Bird Hell" which is certainly an absurd slur and accusation. Now that the people at Bird Paradise realize that the harassment has had no effect on their business, it is no longer of concern to them. Interestingly, the "New York Bird Club" literature gives the impression that there are many people who come to picket Bird Paradise. However, witnesses and photographs show that when they do show up, there are usually no more than 3 or 4 people. One of the most active people is a lawyer from Philadelphia (Marianne Bessey, staff attorney at Dechert LLP) who uses the pseudonym Rowan Morrison in much of her animal rights activities. She also is known for her protests involving elephants at the Philadelphia Zoo. Rowan Morrison is the name of a character from the movie The Wicker Man; she is a young girl who has been kidnapped by a pagan cult who are preparing her for sacrifice. I don't know whether Ms. Bessey identifies with the character herself or relates it to the animals as being sacrificial.

I always use my real name in everything I write or say because I want people to know that the opinions and information come from me.

Over the years, I have also quietly put at least 3 horrible bird shops out of business. I KNOW the difference between a horrible bird shop, a decent one and a good one! It is interesting that working to close horrible bird shops has given me a reputation as an animal rights fanatic among many people in aviculture.
Why were the shops I closed down horrible?

-The bad stores were filthy.
Bird Paradise is clean.

-The cages and food and water dishes in the bad stores were always filthy.
The environments for parrots and food and water are kept clean at Bird Paradise.

-The bad stores had very sick birds who were not receiving treatment and were around other birds.
As far as I know, birds receive medical care for health problems at Bird Paradise and any problems are dealt with immediately.


-The bad stores sold unweaned babies who were sold with no care information at all. Many of these birds were sick.
Bird Paradise does not let a purchased bird go home until it is weaned and I am sure that they don't sell sick birds with the knowledge that they are sick. They also provide education for the people who buy birds from them.

-They bad stores had owners who smoked and allowed smoking around the birds.
There is no smoking allowed in Bird Paradise.

-One of the most horrible stores had multiple dead birds in the trash and had never considered vet care for them. 
I can't even imagine anything like this being true at Bird Paradise.

There are many aspects of the bird industry that I have a great deal of trouble with and I have spoken out against them for many years. For example, I took an active part in getting Petco and Petsmart to stop selling large parrots.

I have been in many bird shops throughout the country and I believe that Bird Paradise is one of the better bird shops that I have ever been in and that is why I have spoken there. I don't agree with everything they do, but I agree with a great deal of their philosophies about parrots. Why? After seeing so many horrible bird shops throughout the country, Bird Paradise is a breath of fresh air. They care about their birds in their shop and take good care of them. They feed a varied diet. The store is kept clean. They have enough knowledgeable employees to provide socialization and proper care. Most of all, they provide quality education and care information to the buyers of their birds and even have an area where people can read, watch videos, and learn to handle their new parrots.

There are some bird shops in the NY, NJ, PA, MD, DE area and all around the country that ARE indeed “bird hell” and I would applaud someone picketing them. I have been told that there is someone who sells unweaned baby birds in milk cartons at a flea market in central Jersey. It seems that putting someone as sleazy as this out of business would be a far greater ambition for people who say that they care care – but perhaps it would not give the animal rights people harassing Bird Paradise as much publicity?

It seems that a few radical people have whipped up the reactive emotions of other people who are pretty much sending the same message. Some of these people are in other countries and many seem to have accepted what the message says without any actual experience with Bird Paradise. Therefore, it is difficult to take any of these messages seriously … only a few of these people have expressed an original thought. Most of the messages have obviously been copied, pasted, and forwarded. This type of onslaught rarely changes anyone’s mind because people just get tired of getting the SAME canned message over and over. I know that there are a number of people who are very fanatical in their thinking about parrots and they devoutly believe that EVERYONE should think exactly the same way that they do. Anyone who differs from their thinking becomes an object of their anger and derision. They are from both sides of the issue – animal rights and the rights of the breeder/collector to do anything they want with their parrots whether it is ethical or not.  One side calls me a shill for the pet industry; the other calls me an animal rights fanatic. I have dealt with many animal rights people over the years, and I actually tend to agree with some of their ideas as long as they are rational and not "pie in the sky." When I wrote in the Companion Parrot Quarterly (http://www.companionparrot.com/AFA.htm) that parrots had given me a great deal of pleasure in my life, one rude fanatic absurdly exclaimed in writing, "Sally, parrots are NOT vibrators." Duh! I am sure that the othert AR people will love that story!

As to the video of the Bird Paradise aviary in Florida that is providing the animal rights people such impetus, there are some things that I think that could be improved and I will definitely talk to Jack Lance about that since I find that he and Kathy are very reasonable people. Changes are rarely made in the way people perceive things when they are being harassed. I certainly don’t see what I consider to be abuse or animal cruelty in the video. One of the more original writers referred to the aviary as a "puppy mill - bird mill." I wonder if this person has actually ever seen a puppy mill, or the bird equivalent of it. I have and it made me sick to my stomach. This person must be truly naive about what a real puppy mill is like or the conditions at some of the aviaries/bird shops I have visited over the years. I have been educating people about parrots for over 30 years and in that time I have visited many aviaries and, again, the animal rights people sending these messages have not seen what I have seen as a comparison. The parrots in the Bird Paradise aviary video were healthy, fed well, and kept clean. The fact that they keep and care for their retired birds who no longer breed is not the norm. Many birds are sold to other people as proven breeders (yes, they were at one time) and too often these birds end up going from place to place. That is a problem; providing housing and care for retired birds is not.

For the most part, I think this bombardment of emails has made the rational people receiving them angry. However, the anger is NOT directed at Bird Paradise but at the people who are sending their canned spam about Bird Paradise. Since I set up an automatic response to all of these emails with the words, "Please remove me from your spam list" I have not been surprised about how many of my responses have not gone through because the original message didn't come from a legitimate email address. It makes me wonder how many of these emails are being sent by just a few people. I also wonder if this whole thing got started because of some personal or professional vendetta. A disgruntled employee filed a cruelty complaint filed against me in regards to my animals and my elderly mother. When the police investigated, they found no problem and, therefore, gave me the name of the person who had maliciously filed the report.  

One woman responded to my automatic message by saying, "Shame on you, Sally." At least I know what my opinions are and don't act like a sheep by sending off a message that someone else wrote. Another woman responded to my automatic reply by saying, "You deem a warning of possible animal cruelty 'spam'? Interesting." Notice the word "possible."  I think that makes it clear that at least this person didn't know enough to really be sure that there actually was "animal cruelty." As a pioneer in the proper treatment of parrots, several years ago I worked with humane societies in the San Francisco Bay Area to help them understand what was actually abuse/cruelty when it came to parrots. I, at least, have given the reality of animal abuse is a great deal of thought from both a rational and an emotional perspective.  

TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 16, 2008

Not the Way it was Planned in Sarasota

I am back from Florida but the trip to do the Florida West Coast Avian Society was certainly not what was planned by me or the people organizing the event. The Parrot and Exotic Bird Rescue and adoption organization is part of FWCAS. A few days before I flew to Sarasota, I felt like I was coming down with the flu. I do have fibromyalgia and tend to dismiss these flu-like symptoms as being another “bout” of this. I felt much better the next day and felt fine to fly the day after that. I arrived in Sarasota and Karen Bastis took me to a wonderful Chinese Buffet on the way from the airport. I was unusually tired after the flight but there was nothing that concerned me. Friday morning I woke up with my toe throbbing and it looked like I had a minor infection. I had been stung by a bee on that toe a few days before I left Colorado, but again I was not too concerned. Friday evening we had a wonderful gourmet dinner at the Ritz Hotel as a fundraiser for the rescue. It was one of those dinners where the plates contain not only food but works of art. The food was so good and the event gave me the opportunity to talk with several bird lovers from the club. Some time during the evening I began to feel a bit “foggy headed” but it wasn’t too much of a problem.  

I was staying at Karen’s house and we got up very early Saturday morning to get to the hotel and get things set up. I was pretty tired and my foot had started to hurt along with my shin and a lymph node at the top of my leg. After I set up my table, I fought staying awake and it got worse and worse. At some point I wandered off to try and find a coke in the hopes that it would wake me up. It seemed that I just wandered around but I finally got a coke.  Robin Shewokis was speaking about enrichments and although I was trying to pay attention, I can’t tell you a thing she said. I began to feel feverish and the morning passed in a blur. I had made some basic notes for my program – anyone who has heard me speak knows that if I have notes at all, I use them as a “springboard” for my thought process. I remember reading one of the reminders and then having no idea at all what to say about it. I remember wondering if people thought I had been drinking. I would say without a doubt, it was the worst program I have ever given. I felt worse by the minute and barely remember anything from the afternoon. At one point I did take a nap in someone’s hotel room. Shortly after I woke up, Lynda Lewis (the other seminar planner) took me to the emergency room at the Doctor’s Hospital in Sarasota. I don’t even remember that, nor do I remember being admitted or going to a room. Sunday in the hospital was also a blur that I don’t remember. The other speakers, Dr Theresa Lightfoot and Robin filled in my speaking time at the Symposium.  

It was Monday before I remember anything and I became aware that I was on heavy IV antibiotics and pain killers. My little bee sting on my middle toe turned into a raging and very painful infection that ran up my foot almost to my knee. I had a MRSA cellulitis infection. Honestly before this I didn’t know the difference between cellulite and cellulites – I sure do now!  (Web site description of cellulitis: The word "cellulitis" actually means "inflammation of the cells." Specifically, cellulitis refers to an infection of the tissue just below the skin surface. In humans, the skin and the tissues under the skin are the most common locations for microbial infection. Skin is the first defense against invading bacteria and other microbes. An infection can occur when this normally strong barrier is damaged due to surgery, injury, or a burn. Even something as small as a scratch or an insect bite allows bacteria to enter the skin, which may lead to an infection. Usually, the immune system kills any invading bacteria, but sometimes the bacteria are able to grow and cause an infection. Once past the skin surface, the warmth, moisture, and nutrients allow bacteria to grow rapidly. Disease-causing bacteria release proteins called enzymes which cause tissue damage. The body's reaction to damage is inflammation which is characterized by pain, redness, heat, and swelling. This red, painful region grows bigger as the infection and resulting tissue damage spread. An untreated infection may spread to the lymphatic system (acute lymphangitis), the lymph nodes (lymphadenitis), the bloodstream (bacteremia), or into deeper tissues.

For a couple of days, my temperature ranged from 102o to 104o and it had to be consistently below 100o before I could leave the hospital. I was on both IV and oral antibiotics. The doctor thought I might be throwing a clot and also told me that I would probably lose my toe. Luckily neither was true.

I was lucky though because several people from the Sarasota area came to visit; Karen Bastis, Lynda Lewis and her husband Herb and daughter Cassandra, and Diana and Steve Barbash. I was pleased that no one seemed angry with the fact that I was too sick to speak. I left the hospital on Wednesday afternoon and spent the next few days lying around with my leg up. The bird club’s meeting was Thursday evening so I sat with my leg up and did Q&A.  

Of course, the next trick was getting back to Colorado. My flight was originally scheduled for the Monday after the symposium and luckily I could get a flight on Saturday. It was interesting for me to be pushed around the airports in a wheelchair and I was lucky that during the flight from Atlanta to Denver I had a whole row to myself so I good keep my leg up the whole flight. My friend Jennifer’s husband came and picked me up at the airport. I have been sitting around with my leg up ever since. My leg is still very red, swollen and painful but I see my doctor tomorrow for a progress report. I am still on heavy duty antibiotics.

So hopefully they will ask me back to Sarasota next year and I can really give a program. I plan to fly to Chicago on the 25th for the NIPS convention even if I have to give my program sitting down with my leg up.

I really doubt that I will ever dismiss so many symptoms of a possible health problem again. I am just grateful that I was taken to the hospital when I was because the whole ordeal could have been worse.

The Friday before I left Sarasota, Karen set up her SUV so I could travel with my leg up and we did a little bit of tourist stuff. We drove through Myakka River State Park, which was beautiful. The weather was perfect for bird watching and I got to see a whole bunch of wading birds (herons, egrets, etc.), several raptors and a bunch of alligators.  I was delighted to get a little relaxation into the time in Florida after being in the hospital. Maybe the next time I end up in Florida I can do a little more intense bird watching. Karen says that if they have me come back next year, they are going to demand a health certificate!

 

FRIDAY AUGUST 30, 2008

When I moved into my house, I saw a great deal of promise for a yard full of birds and flowers. There was a small Aspen grove rock garden but the area was totally weeded over. Virginia creeper had gone wild and covered almost everything. Before and after photos are to the right. My first job was to weed it all and of course that is job that I will have to repeat from time to time. The second job was to add top soil and plant new perennials. I traveled around the area looking for unusual flowering perennials and decided that my favorite nursery is a place called Duran's Hobby Acres just north of Longmont on Hwy 287. I wanted flowers that would attract birds - particularly hummingbirds and Kim has been very helpful. I found a water feature that is perfect to attract birds. It doesn't look very impressive until it is set up. Water comes up about 6 inches above a basin and then it runs down the side. The birds - especially Goldfinches - love to bathe in the shallow moving water. I was going to dig down to create a depression for it but there were too many tree roots so I had to place the tub to hold the water on the ground and then build a rock garden around it. Then since I was give a smaller tub, I placed a pump in it that just shoots water about a foot into the air and then it comes back into the rocks in the tub. It makes a lot more noise than the bird bath and I like the water noise.

Buying the rocks was interesting. There is a huge rock and landscape materials place nearby called Crystal Landscape Supply.  I drive my 1989 Mitsubishi Montero, which is kind of a junkie car not but I have never had any trouble with it. When I get there, I drive onto a scale and then I go and pick out my rocks and then I weigh the car again. The first time I thought that I had bought enough rocks to do the job and it was only $11.00 worth. Wow rocks are cheap! I ended up going back several times until the job was finished. Lifting all of the rocks and moving them around reminded me that I have muscles I had forgotten about.

It only took a few days to get hummingbirds once I put the feeders out and once I planted some Bee Balm, Salvia, and other colorful flowers, the hummers can choose between the flowers and the feeders. A friend told me I should buy several Mr. Canary Goldfinch feeders and hang them all together and Goldfinches would come. I heard them fly over and occasionally saw one at my thistle socks. I finished the water feature and hung five of the feeders nearby. The next morning I looked out the living room  window and there were goldfinches on 4 of the feeders and 3 of them taking a bath. I think that the reason these feeders work so well is that only 1 or 2 birds can feed at a time and there are always dozens of House finches on the other feeders. They tend to be aggressive and chase the smaller finches away.

WEDNESDAY AUGUST 13, 2008

Although I don't have the space I used to I am still occasionally watching parrots for people. Normally I only watch parrots who have been in a home for several years and have been vet checked. August was a busy month with 2 greys, a Quaker, an Umbrella Cockatoo, a Cherry-headed Conure and a Hyacinth Macaw ...  luckily not all at the same time! The two greys, Gheorge and Topper and my grey, Whodee, all talked back and forth, but the best part was all 3 of them whistling together. I wish I had taped it all. The Hyacinth, Happy, was here for about 10 days and was a very enjoyable visitor. If you read my blog on a regular basis, you may remember that Topper is the grey that witnessed my first fall down the stairs and asked me if I was OK, then as I was getting up I told him that I though I was Ok, he said, "Scarey stuff!" As Chris who is Happy and Gheorge's "dad" was driving out of the driveway, I asked Topper what he thought of spending time with Happy and Gheorge and he replied, "Scarey Stuff!"  I wasn't sure whether he was talking about the Hyacinth or the other grey who was talking competition. After Happy and Gheroge went home, my friend Ginger, the delightful hen Umbrella, came for a visit and we are having fun together. I am keeping Zuess, a Cherry-head Conure, for my friend Sally while she recovers from a bad case of shingles on her face. That really is "scarey stuff."  Over 25 years ago, I woke up with the left side of my face paralyzed. I had Bell's Palsy and my doctors said is was the same virus that caused shingles that caused it. I am going to check into a shingles vaccination because I don't want to have shingles or Bell's Palsy again. I was lucky to regain most of the muscle tone in my face after about 2 months. I still have to sins that I had it. One is that I can't sneer with the left side and that is fine. The other is that when I chew gum, I sometimes drool a little bit out of the corner of the left side of my mouth. Zuess was a "male" for 15 years until she started laying eggs.

FRIDAY AUGUST 8, 2008

I am really enjoying the wild birds that are starting to come to my bird feeders. I think the whole time I lived in downtown Loveland I only saw pigeons, crows, chimney swifts, and a great horned owl in the trees in front of the museum. I really missed having a yard and bird feeders so I am really enjoying the yard. My favorite wild bird is the chickadee and I have seen up to 5 coming to my feeders at the same time. I am also starting to see quite a few goldfinches, but there are so many house finches that the gorgeous little yellow birds don't stop that often. I guess you have to feed a lot of birds to get the good ones. I also have Flickers, Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers stopping at the feeders. Two days after I put the feeders up,  I had my first hummingbirds come to them. I have seen 3 at a time and they have all been fighting over the feeders. I've enjoyed hummers in my yard just about every place I've lived so it was nice to see them in my yard here. I was outside at dusk taking photos of a flower when I saw a perfect photo opportunity. My tuxedo Manx cat Lito was also bird watching as a Broad-tailed hummingbird fed from the feeder on the living room window. I moved closer to the window to get a better picture but both the hummer and my cat left the scene, so I just got a photo of the feeder. I guess I was lucky to get them both in the photo.    

WEDNESDAY JULY 30, 2008

My trip to Long Island was great … as usual! It was really nice to be so appreciated after the last few months. I spoke at the Long Island Parrot Society South America Parrot Conference but Susan Chamberlain had me fly in early as a “surprise” speaker at the LIPS meeting. She gave clues to the identity of the speaker and I would imagine most people who had heard me speak before figured out who the speaker was especially because I was coming to speak at the conference a few days later. Various clues included sculptor, PT Cruiser, and the date of one of my LIPS seminars.  

I stay with Susan and I usually give her two ultimatums before I agree to speak. The first is that I get to go to Carvel. I lived on Long Island when I went to high school and I don’t think that there is better soft serve custard ice cream. The second is that I get at least one slice of real New York pizza. It has a thin crispy crust, the tomato sauce is a bit sweeter, and the somewhat greasy cheese can give you heart burn that is totally worth it. I was lucky enough to have really good NY pizza two times.  

I enjoyed my visits with Susan's parrots. Her 38 year old Double-yellow head Cracker is almost always on Susan's shoulder as she does her chores. It is amazing to watch the Amazon as she repositions and balances herself as Susan moves about and leans over. Obviously Cracker has enjoyed this shoulder throne for many years. Burt, the African Grey gets to spend a lot of time in the kitchen on a play gym. He offers his opinions and battles with his toys. Sometimes the toy wins and knocks Burt over on his side or back but the acrobatic bird quickly recovers the advantage.

It is wonderful to see several people that I have known for years.  I have a long history with Long Island bird people – starting way back to the early 1990s when Joan Napolitano and a friend drove down to pick me up from a speaking engagement in the Philadelphia area. Susan had a party on Friday night before the conference so that gave me an opportunity to meet new people and spend time with people I hadn’t seen in two years or more.

I enjoyed speaking at the LIPS meeting because I could just have a good time telling parrot stories and answering questions. Telling stories is my favorite part of speaking. I could tell stories about my late great grey Bongo Marie all night and I have some good stories about other parrots as well!

On the night before I flew home, I attended an outdoor concert with Susan, her husband and a few other friends. We took along a picnic dinner that included Susan's Blue Mojitos. One of Susan’s friends is Roberta Fabiano who is the lead vocalist with the Peter Duchin Band. They have played at presidential inaugurations and many high society events. Of course, the reason Roberta is famous with the people I know is because she has conures. Her Mitred conure, Ratchet, is also quite an entertainer but seems to have no official capacity in the band. Roberta wrote a wonderful song about the Parrots of Telegraph Hill. I think you can find part of it on Youtube.

The weather was actually pretty nice for the week I was in New York. Living in Colorado where it so dry can make me pretty uncomfortable when I go someplace where it is "sticky." I was surprised to see the word "sticky" used as a meteorological term in the weather reports as in, "Tomorrow will be less sticky then it was today." This term would be a word never associated with Colorado weather.


SATURDAY JULY 26, 2008

Time is a strange "thing." I don't particularly care for flying anymore. It has become such an ordeal. On the way to New York, I kept thinking, "will this flight ever be over?" Not only did it end but then my time on Long Island zoomed past and there I was on the way home wondering again if the flight would ever end. As far as my flying experiences are concerned, the trip there and back were pretty routine. I've had some that weren't; including an emergency landing in Albany, a near miss where the plane was landing and, instead of stopping suddenly sped up and went up very fast, a canceled flight where I spent the night in Jackson, Mississippi, and 8 hour delay in Chicago while a tornado hopped across the runways, and then there was sitting in the Newport News airport for 6 hours after the Amazona Convention because my flight was canceled and I was the only one who didn't make it on another flight - it took me 18 hours to get home. On one flight a woman went practically insane when she found out there was a bird on board - I think she might have seen Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds a few too many times. Probably my most memorable flight was my first one when I was about 14. My parents and I flew from Paris to London in a scary but spectacular thunder storm. As far as fellow passengers being a problem, on a flight with Spike, there was a bratty boy who was about 10 years old in the seat in front of me; of course Spike was under his seat in his carrier. When the plane takes off Spike either whistles Yankee Doodle Dandy or he beeps, which sounds like a smoke alarm battery failing. We were up in the air and Spike was beeping. The kid was getting agitated and all of a sudden he shouted that there was a bomb under his seat. I have never seen flight attendants move so fast and, of course, the people nearby were very alarmed. I said that it was my parrot beeping and his mother exclaimed, you don't have to lie. I pulled Spike from under the seat and everything seemed resolved except the brat loudly exclaimed that he still thought there was a bomb under his seat.

Speaking of Spike, in conversations with several people with multiple birds including caiques, we have agreed that gram for gram caiques are the messiest companion parrots. The photo is of Spike grinding his pellets on his cage bars right after he took a bath in his water that was full of soaked pellets. At some point after most of his pellets are destroyed (not eaten) and spread across the room, he will climb down to the bottom of his cage where he has made a mess and dance around in the puddles.

More on my trip to New York in the next entry!
 

MONDAY JULY 14, 2008

On the 30th of June, I left the Laughing Parrot store front and home that I had lived in for almost 3 years. I had to be out by July 1st. I got just about everything out of it but it was an incredible chore. My friend Jenifer Cline and her husband Gary continued to provide incredible help. Without them I would never had gotten most everything out. For example, my couch was too big to fit down the stairs and Gary and their son Tim and a friend lowered it down from the deck with ropes. The movers refused to do it and didn’t really tell me why but I think that it was too complicated for them to figure out or perhaps they were too lazy.  

I was physically exhausted and spent the first few days in July doing nothing. Going up and down 2 flights of stairs a few dozen times a day and lugging heavy items day after day left me feeling a bit like every bone in my body was broken, especially my feet. I now have part of the house organized. The office is arranged but none of the boxes are unpacked. I wanted to get at least a bit organized before I leave for Long Island to do the South American Parrot Conference for LIPS. Why is it that the very boxes that are the most important are impossible to find? Of course, I had to fit everything from the store and house into a 3 bedroom house - a bedroom, an office and an art room. I am so grateful that I found a rental house with both a 2 car garage and a 1 car garage. Both are full and everything I seem to be desperate to find must be in the back corner. For example, the color cartridges I need to print flyers for my trip to Long Island are no where to be found.

No move goes smoothly but this one .... I hired a local moving company called Billy Goat Moving. I have moved 26 times in my life (Air Force father and ex-husband) and have never even heard of a situation like this one. I had already moved a great deal of smaller items to my new house and the birds and their cages. Four young men came out to move what was left. They started grumbling and complaining almost immediately. One proclaimed as he walked into the house that he didn’t want to lift anything heavy. If this was true, why did he work for a moving company? No one spoke to me directly about what the problem was, which would have been the professional thing to do. There were a great number of boxes in the basement. I had intended to clean the basement out before they came but most of the boxes were too heavy for me to carry up the stairs and the injury to my finger set me back at least a week. I also had not realized that my 16 year old cat Toc had been using this area of the basement as a cat box. If I had been told this by the moving crew, I would have cleaned it up immediately.

When I moved into the dwelling area of the store, the previous owner had a dog and an older cat and although he shampooed the carpets, the stains and odor remained. My animals, especially the elderly ones, added considerably to the problem and even though I tried to keep the carpets cleaned and sprayed, there were definitely odor problems. This was particularly evident on warm days and if the living room was not aired out. The situation greatly improved when I opened the patio door and turned on a huge fan. When I was trying to sell the place I made it clear that the carpets would need replacing – they actually needed replacing when I moved in. The four movers continued to grumble. One of them rudely commented that I should vacuum. Actually the upstairs had been thoroughly vacuumed and I was living in the store area, which was a mess because I had spent weeks trying to get things packed. Jenifer helped pack and three other women I know, Morgan Love, Judith Caderette and Nancy Phillips came over for a few hours each to help. Other than that, I spent hours and hours packing everything. When I get back from New York, I will start unpacking with great gusto but the trick will be where to put everything.

Once the truck was filled, we drove to my new place where they unloaded the truck. There were still a significant number of items left at the old place but the movers informed me that they weren't going back for them. So I had a bed without a frame, no desks for my office, bookcases without shelves, a dresser without its marble top, couch cushions without a couch, and many more things that I needed. I talked to the owner of the moving company who seemed somewhat sympathetic and we arranged for the job to be finished a few days later. I cleaned up the basement, organized items better, and re-sprayed the carpets in that time. Of many unprofessional aspects to this move, the most frustrating was the fact that I was not called until 5 pm the night before the second part of the move was planned. At that time, I was informed that they were not coming back to finish the move. I was planning my move very carefully because I had a deadline to be out of the building. It was then impossible for me to find another company to finish the move for the next 2 days. These rude men were very judgmental and made many remarks that I didn’t appreciate. I understood their frustration to some degree but they were rude and did a lousy job. They had absolutely no concern for me or for the fact that I was paying them to do their job. I hope that no one else has to put up with the lack of professionalism and concern for the customer that I experienced.

I am looking forward to my travels this summer and fall; Long Island, Sarasota Florida, Chicago, and New Jersey. For a list of the particulars, go to my speaking schedule. I hope to meet a whole bunch of great bird people!

THURSDAY JUNE 19, 2008

Well I am sort of in my new home ... not settled but here and not completely out of there ... the ex Laughing Parrot Gallery. I have reached the point of wanting to be gone from that building so badly that I can hardly stand being there. Tonight I brought two more loads of misc. stuff to my new home. As usual on Thursday nights, the bar next door was loud and aggravating. I have until June 30th to get everything out. I know that many people would be willing to help me with this move but none of them live in this area. I do have one good friend who has been wonderful and has been a tremendous help. I can't even imagine how I can repay Jenifer Cline for the time and energy she has spent helping me both with the physical and emotional aspects of this move. It is always reassuring to know that there is someone who you can count on when you really need help.

On Sunday, June 8th one of those moments occurred.  I was going from the dwelling area into the store. There is a weird set of stairs there that goes forward and to the side at the same time (bad description - I know). I slipped and fell and in trying to catch my balance, I did a number on my left pinky finger. It really hurt and when I looked down the finger was bent the wrong way and the bone of the second phalange was sticking through the skin. It is amazing how such a small part of the body can hurt so much. I called Jenifer and she and her husband came over right away to take me to the emergency room. Once I was in the car, we discovered why I had slipped and it made the event even more yucky. My older cat, Toc (16), had had an accident at the top of the stairs and sure enough it was all over my shoes and my pants. I couldn't imagine going into the emergency room like that so Jenifer cleaned my pants while her husband, Gary took my shoes off for me. He was even nice enough to clean them for me. I am not sure what they thought in the emergency area but a nurse brought out a wheel chair. I was a bit "shockey" so it seemed OK to be wheeled in even if it was for a broken little finger. I thought it was broken but the x-ray showed that it was actually a dislocation. I dreaded having the bone popped back back in place. It was painless only because they gave me pain medication and pumped the little finger full of xylocaine until it looked like a balloon. The needle hurt but adjusting the bone and the stitches didn't hurt at all. The finger was in a splint for about a week and of course, I bumped it, banged it and smashed it a bit several times a day as I packed and carried boxes. Although it still hurts some, a dislocation heals much faster than a break. It was only the next day that I realized that I had also twisted my ankle and bruised my hip. Neither was serious but made it much more difficult to go up and down two flights of stairs (32 steps each way) a dozen or more times each day. I have never had an easy move! I got to thinking that I have actually moved 27 times in my life. Of course this was mostly because my father and ex-husband were in the Air Force. During one move fell off of the ramp into the truck and was in cast for 6 weeks.

The dismantling of the gallery has been quite complicated. As you can see from the photo to the right, I have had some "help" from a puppy. She has been shredding paper towels for packing material. Shortly after my Hovawart (see April 17), Dewey, died I had a dentist appointment and I was talking about losing him. Besides being a really good dentist, Dr. Kim Danzer in Westminster, has parrots! It turned out that she had a new terrier puppy and her receptionist had the sister but couldn't keep her. I have mostly had terriers (Cairn, Silky, Scotty, Toy Fox (Kea, my 3-legged dog), and a wonderful huge Airedale) so I know what a stubborn challenge that they can often be. Actually I often think of Caiques as being the terriers of the bird world or terriers as being the caiques of the dog world. Anyway the puppy came home with me. One might think that it was bad timing but she cheered me up tremendously during this whole mess. She is supposedly a mix of a Yorky and a Westy but she looks more like a multi-colored Scotty to me and is about that size. Most of all, she is really cute and quite mischievous. I named her Tiwi after my Moluccan cockatoo friend in Tucson. Barbara Bailey's Tiwi matches the same description as really cute and very mischievous.

The house I am renting has a wonderful area in the front yard with a "grove" of Aspen trees. It has pretty much gone to weed but I have already cleaned out at least half of the area and am planting some flowering perennials. I have always love gardening and this yard has great potential. Once my move is completed I will really enjoy working in the yard. I had a beautiful front yard in Alameda but I can't find photos of it.

The amazing part of living in a house again is how compact it is. I don't have to go up a flight of stairs to go from my office to my living room and my office is right across the hall from what will be my art room. I won't miss all of those stairs!


TUESDAY May 27, 2008

Dear CPQ Readers and Subscribers, 

As many of you already know, the last few years have been extremely difficult for me and while I had hoped that everything would improve, this has not been the case.  

In 1999 when my mother came to live with me, she was able to take care of herself and had some financial reserves. As time passed, she required more and more care. For a variety of reasons, I wanted to leave the SF Bay area and had planned a move for some time. I was physically and emotionally exhausted and thought that living in a less stressful area would help. I started packing months before the move. After considering several destinations, I chose Loveland, Colorado. I found the most delightful historical storefront (pre-1886) with a place to live in the back. With its original tin ceiling and wood displays, the building enchanted me. I believed that I could open a gallery and museum with my extensive collection of bird and parrot art since Loveland has an internationally known sculpture show and a well-established artist’s community. I planned the move for August but in June, my mother had a series of strokes and I delayed the move by a month. My mother had been emotionally devastated when my only sibling, my brother died of a heart attack in 2004. They had always had a much stronger bond than my mother and I. My brother was a difficult person to relate to and it was not until I learned about Asperger’s syndrome that I had a handle on what he was all about. He had never been diagnosed but there is little doubt in my mind that this explains a great deal of his behavior. He functioned well on some levels and had a genius IQ with a photographic memory - especially for sports statistics. But he had some difficulties functioning on a social level. I think because of this he and my mother were very emotionally dependent on each other. Early in 2005, my mother’s brother died, which was another shock to both of us. This year my Aunt died. One of the saddest parts of getting older is losing relatives and friends.

The move here to Loveland was a nightmare that cost me far more than I expected. No matter how much I planned, there were so many variables that I could not foresee. I had a reasonable interest loan for the property here in Loveland, but virtually at the last minute, the local good ol’ boy bank decided not to make the loan because my property in California had not sold. They simply did not understand California real estate at the time. When I had to go shopping for another loan in a hurry, I found that the majority of banks and mortgage companies would not consider a loan for a combined business and residential property and since my house in California had not yet sold, I could only find a loan at over 14% if I put $100,000 down. California sales were beginning to slow but the house there sold a week after closing on the high interest loan. Because my mother required so much care and had become financially dependent on me, it took me a lot of time to set up the gallery and I was quickly running out of money.   

My mother passed away over two years ago. She had lived with me since 1999 but I had visited her in southern California on a regular basis after I moved back to California. In some ways we were not close but in other ways we were very close and it has been quite lonely without her. I don’t think people ever really get over the loss of someone so special in their lives. At least I don’t get really melancholy anymore when I go to the grocery store and see the foods that she especially liked. It is strange what reminds me of her. She loved Bush’s baked beans and had always thought it was one of the sons of the first president Bush that made them – no matter how many times I told her it wasn’t.

I had neglected the store because my mother needed so much attention but since she died; so much of my time has been spent trying to make the gallery work that I have not had the time to create many friendships or a good support group here.

I did what I could to promote the Laughing Parrot Gallery but despite the concept of “if you build it, they will come,” they didn’t. I passed out discount cards at an Audubon society meeting in Fort Collins and not one person came from that group. Two Loveland newspaper articles did little to get people to come in and both the wild bird and parrot communities showed little or no interest in what I was trying to do. No one ever asked to see the bird research library that I had set up. I was surprised at the lack of curiosity. I wanted to share my books, my art, and my knowledge but day after day I would work at my computer and no one came in. The building had been a jewelry store and many of the people who came in were looking for watch batteries. It seemed that I had more people that came from other states and/or countries than local people. Some visitors from other countries were delighted that I had art representing birds that they knew and loved. Several subscribers from other states came in. If someone just wandered in, they either wanted their watch repaired or seemed to think I was crazy devoting a whole store to birds. Occasionally someone came in who was enthralled but it was not enough to support the gallery and the very high mortgage payment was draining my finances.  

Last November I had a “duh” moment as I was looking over my financial predicament and realized that the times that I was most financially successful was when I put out my books. I sat down immediately and wrote and illustrated the Cockatoo Handbook and once it was finished, I wrote the Amazon Handbook. I also have a grey book, a conure/macaw book, and a caique book partly finished.  I actively sought funding for the printing of the cockatoo book. Knowing that each book would sell well when they were publicized, I was sure that I could find someone who would work with me financially . The concept was that it would be a business loan and that 50% of the profits would go to pay off the loan for the book and interest until it was paid. I was also planning on donating a percentage to the cockatoo aviary fund at the Oasis Sanctuary. So far, no takers ... I am planning on printing limited (and much more expensive to print) numbers to take care of the orders I have coming in now. If there is anyone out there who has faith in the success of a quality book on Cockatoos and one on Amazons and is willing to provide a financial arrangement for their printing, please contact me at 970-278-0233. The cost of printing the books ranges from $8,000.00 to $15,000.  As the books sell, you will be paid back!

I think that if I could have gotten the Cockatoo book out in February or March as planned, I would have avoided the situation I am in now and that is the foreclosure of my building that is both my business and living space. At one point it would have only taken $5,000 to keep me out of foreclosure but I couldn’t come up with it, I have the place for sale but I may not be able to get it sold in time and because it is in foreclosure, I will not get even close to what I paid for it and put into it so I am losing at least $150,000.00.

I have no employees and if I thought that I was emotionally and physically exhausted in California, I didn’t know what it meant. I moved here with 6 parrots, 3 dogs, and 4 cats. With the exception of one cat, they were all older animals. Last year 3 of my animals died; Nimbus was my 23 year old cat, Buffy another cat was about 14, and KT my beloved Silky Terrier was 20 years old. Last month was the worst of all when Dewey, my 10 year old Hovawart had to be euthanized because his back legs were suddenly paralyzed and he was in a lot of pain. My big goofy Dewey had my heart more than any dog or cat who has ever been in my life. Perhaps his most endearing quality was in wanting to hold hands with me. When I was working, he would come over and put his paw on my lap until I held his paw for awhile. I have experienced far too much loss since I have been in this building and am very anxious to leave it..

Of course, I have subscribers who are fed up and want their money back. I don’t have the financial ability to give refunds. At this point, the best that I can do is promise an issue when my life settles down. I have one very close to being finished but I have no funds to print it and my credit is not good enough for anyone to print it without being paid up front. The other way I can try to make it OK for current subscribers is to give them a 10% discount on anything on the pages where I am selling off my collection. I still think that I can keep the part of the business that involves the magazine, books and art work going but it may take time for it all to work out. I have an issue on play almost finished but do not yet have the funds to print it. 

The worst part of living in downtown Loveland happened when Colorado passed a No Smoking law for bars. For me this is an absolute example of the "Law of Unintended Consequences." This meant that the bar next door that was not really a problem built an outdoor patio essentially right below my deck and bedroom window. Drunks are never quiet and certainly there is no one at that bar who cares that someone lives here. They often sound like a bunch of hyenas and baboons but of course that insults these animal species. The noise and cigarette smoke has made my life very difficult and mostly because of this, I can’t wait to get out of this building that I loved at one time and start doing the things I do best again. 

Everything combined has been very depressing and I am just now coming out of a serious depression and bout of hopelessness.  I have found a house that I am going to rent and it becomes available for me on June 1st. It is going to be an incredible chore to get everything out of here but it will be worth it! If anyone who is fairly local can volunteer to help I would greatly appreciate it. The house is on a quiet cul-de-sac. Quiet  ... ah. It has a nice yard and I have always loved having a garden. Yard work and gardening has always been therapy for me and I have missed having a yard here.

 I will be moving from June 1st to June 15th but or so will still try to get orders done during this time. Since I am moving only a few miles and I am planning on a gradual move, there will only be a few days that I will be unable to access my computer, etc.  

The best way readers can help is to continue to be patient with me. I have no intention of quitting the magazine ... I still have way too much to say and share!

I also have some wonderful items from my extensive collection of bird art and collectibles on the web site. Check them out; there may be something you would really enjoy having in your home. If you are a current subscriber, you can take a 10%count on any item. Click here to go to the Collectible Index

FRIDAY May 23, 2008

SERIOUS PROBLEMS AT FEATHERED FRIENDS FOREVER!
Comparing the Oasis with Feathered Friends Forever
- No Comparison!
LEFT: THE WONDERFUL NEW MACAW FLIGHT AT THE OASIS

    A few days ago I got an email from some people who were taking cockatoos to a publicized rescue and discovered that the birds there receive poor care - yet the organization's publicity painted a much rosier picture. These are excerpts from their email. 
     On May 4, 2008, Sandi Madsen and Tina Usher, drove to the Feathered Friends Forever bird sanctuary, in Harlem, GA (run by Ronald Johnson) with five cockatoos prearranged to be placed there. After doing diligent research and speaking with Ron Johnson (the owner), they were expecting to find a sanctuary to provide a loving, lifelong and safe home for the cockatoos, similar to The Oasis Sanctuary in Arizona. (Picture to the left. Of course I am a strong supporter of the Oasis and the quality of life the birds there receive.) "Instead, at Feathered Friends Forever in Georgia we found inadequate shelter, inadequate care, inadequate diets and non-existent enrichment. In the midst of piles of junk, trash and old, rusted vehicles, birds are housed in terrible conditions."

RIGHT & BELOW: FEATHERED FRIENDS FOREVER MACAW AND COCKATOO HOUSING
They found the following:

  • Rooms overflowing with cages full of birds pushed up to each other and cages of birds stacked on top of cages with birds in them in dirty over crowded rooms.  Not enough space to pull trays out for cleaning.
  • Macaw Flight – Inadequate perching - the only perches were a couple little 6” concrete pedicure perches and not as many as there are macaws in there.
  • Flights with no perches – birds having to sit on their seed trough, pooping in them
  • Dirty moldy water troughs made from 4” PVC cut in half
  • Food troughs 4” PVC cut in half - not protected from rain
  • No shelter for the birds from the elements
  • Nothing to prevent predators from digging into flights and attacking the Natural vegetation in flights? – 3’ high weeds
  • No enrichment - no toys, no ropes, no ladders, no wood to chew on etc.
  • Home Depot tarpaulin car ports overcrowded with cages filled with birds in them
  • Cockatoos in cages sized for conures  The photos to the right show the cockatoo cages.
  • No security on premises
  • No evidence of anything but seed diet.
     

 

A FEW PICTURES ARE WORTH THOUSANDS OF WORDS

A few readers may question how I can support the bird shop Bird Paradise and yet help expose problems at Feathered Friends Forever. I suppose it comes from the concept, "if you are going to do it, do it right." I sincerely believe this when it comes to the care of parrots. I am totally aware that there is a problem with parrot overpopulation. I also believe that parrots who come from production breeders and/or stores where there is no respect for the parrots and no quality information about parrots are more likely to end up in rescue than parrots from quality breeders and stores that educate their buyers. I also believe that one of the ways to keep many parrots out of rescue organizations is for people who want another parrot to give strong consideration to getting an older parrot who has
previously lived in another situation.

The differences between the Oasis and Feathered Friends Forever are obvious. The size of the cockatoo cages at Feathered Friends Forever are particularly appalling to me. I don't know Ronald Johnson so I can't really speak to his motivation nor has he ever contacted me personally as he states in his comments about this blog. From the photographs these two women took (I have only put 6 of them on my blog) I would never recommend such a place, both because the birds are not safe, secure and adequately cared for and they obviously have many more parrots than they can take care of properly. Mr. Johnson also insinuates that the two women snuck onto his property in the dead of night without his permission. They say they were bringing birds to the "sanctuary" and that he knew that they were driving non-stop from Illinois and would most likely arrive during the night. He asked them to call when they were close and he would meet them when they arrived. They called and he didn't answer so they arrived at the place later, looked it over and made the decision that they would never leave their cockatoos there. They took the photographs and left. Personally I can't imagine anyone planning an approximately 1600 mile long road trip with cockatoos in their car to sneak onto the grounds of a place to take incriminating photos. The macaw photo directly above with the macaws having to perch so close to the cage wire concerns me a great deal. I have known of far too many situations where raccoons have grabbed birds and pulled them apart through wires. I am also concerned about the junk piles shown in several photos that the women took (Below right). These piles of junk could easily be a habitat for rodents, which could create serious problems for any bird population.

I have known Sybil Erdin (the founder of the Oasis)  for many years - since she had a few too many parrots chewing up the wall paper in her home but I knew that she had a plan and a dream. She is also a passionate and intelligent woman who has never let go of her concepts for a quality sanctuary. I haven't been back to the Oasis since last year but I spent some time in the then new Grey aviary - it is an incredible habitat that pays great respect to the needs of the birds. (Scroll down to May 10th 2007)  Now I see that the macaw aviary is finished and I can hardly wait to get down there and see it. Maybe by the time I visit again, the Cockatoos will have the same kind of enclosure. The plans are for every bird to be in large flight cages and Sybil will never lose sight of that goal. Despite the fact that we may disagree on some issues, I will always admire Sybil for her dedication to parrots.

So why can't every sanctuary be as good as the Oasis? Some people simply don't have the standards to tell if they are really giving parrots quality care or not. They really believe that they are doing a great job and are shocked when people are critical of them. It doesn't matter how many parrots die in their care; there are always more to get funding for. I am in the process of trying to verify a horrific story that should change anyone's positive opinion about Feathered Friends Forever. As soon as I do, I will post it here.

It also has a lot to do with what I call the "Soft heart/soft head syndrome." People who love parrots want to help and instead of creating a thought-out plan, they start collecting birds until they become overwhelmed and can't provide quality care for any of the birds in their care. They may "love" parrots but the concepts of proper care, respect, and ethics seem to go by the wayside as they become overwhelmed. It happens far too often and sadly their rescue birds too often need rescuing.

The needs are so great that donating to such poorly planned organizations can be like throwing money into a bottomless pit. The first thing such an organization needs to do is STOP taking in anymore birds. The concept of never refusing another bird is the downfall of too many rescue and sanctuary organizations. Then they need to try and find homes or more positive situations for some of the more needy birds they have. Then they need to form a group/board with people who have financial, fundraising, and business planning experience. They need to find other people who will help take care of the birds they have. Two people with a few volunteers cannot possibly provide hundreds of birds with the care they need. The goals of fundraising should be more employees and better facilities - not more birds. As far as whether or not FFF meets the standards of the state of Georgia's animal cruelty laws, I have found that for the most part city, county, and state laws governing the care of animals are usually pretty substandard with the concern often only being food and water. There is usually no determination as to what is a proper diet or proper housing. To meet government requirements is often minimal care and in my mind birds kept by these guidelines could be suffering from serious neglect and even abuse.

Evidently at one point, the Amazona Society provided some funding to Feathered Friends Forever, which provided credibility to the "rescue." I doubt if the person who approved this funding had ever been to the facility. The current president, Shari Beaudoin, wants people to know that this decision was made before her time and she would have checked the organization more thoroughly before making such a decision. After I was talked into recommending the Tropics in North Carolina, I have been very careful about recommending Parrot Sanctuaries for fear of giving credibility to a place with little or no planning based in reality or someone with a hoarder mentality.

ANOTHER TOPIC: 

Bird Paradise in New Jersey
I think everyone is entitled to their own opinions about just about everything. However when they use a BLATANT MISREPRESENTATION to make their point, that point becomes totally invalid for me. I was recently added to the email list of a animal rights oriented group. Their last email used a photograph in information about picketing Bird Paradise in Burlington, New Jersey. The photo is of two feather picked cockatoos who look miserable. The cockatoos do have each other cage and a toy, which is at least a bit better than a lot of photos I have seen of miserable birds in need of rescue. I feel sorry for the 2 cockatoos and certainly hope that someone, somewhere is taking good care of them now.

Of course, since the photograph is above the text of this organizations' email about picketing Bird Paradise, the clear insinuation is that the photo was taken at Bird Paradise. It was not!

I took the following photographs at Bird Paradise last October and I think the habitats that Bird Paradise has provided for their parrots are among the best I have ever seen ... Lots of room, enrichment, good food, and companionship with other youngsters. They set an excellent example for their customers. (see October 26, 2008 for a humorous series of photos from Bird Paradise)


 
I spoke at Bird Paradise last October and will be speaking there again this October. It is the largest bird store I have ever been too and they do have a good number of babies, but the care of the birds is exemplary ... especially in comparison to many of the bird shops I have been to in the US. Of course, the store is located in one of the most populated areas of the country and people come there from several states. The store is clean and I have never seen so many quality parrot products in one place The birds are fed a good diet and housed in good sized environments. Buyers are educated about the care of their new parrots.

The heading of the email I received states that "BIRDS SUFFER IN CAPTIVITY." Yes, there are far too many birds that suffer in captivity but there are many who have a good life with caring people. I know that there are some deplorable bird shops in the NY, NJ, PA, area that deserve to be picketed and I have been told that there is a place not far from Bird Paradise that auctions unweaned baby birds in milk cartons on a regular basis. I would certainly support the activities of this fanatical group if they were picketing that situation, but I certainly don't support their agenda when they plan to picket a quality store like Bird Paradise. This group of people with their animal rights agenda needs to get their priorities straight. Personally I think the group may be creating a positive situation for Bird Paradise by giving them more publicity.

It appears to me that anyone who writes anything on their web discussion that is positive about Bird Paradise (or other companion parrot situations) is met with derision, emotionally illogical and vitriolic comments like: "Simply put, the store owners are greedy bloodsuckers that make their living off of the misery of birds. They should be thrown into jail to rot and know what it's like living inside a locked cage."  The writer may have a right to make this statement and evidently has the support of an ACLU lawyer. Sometimes I support the positions of the ACLU but not this time. It seems to me that some of the vitriolic statements the people in this group make are legally actionable but then I am not a lawyer. I would imagine these people have had or will have quite a bit to say about me too. Actually I think my success is often better judged by my enemies than my friends.  I am actually pleased that my writing about the care and behavior of companion parrots has offended some people – particularly the animal right’s fanatics and the people in aviculture who think that they have the right to do anything with their birds as property, even if it involves severe neglect and abuse. I have vocal enemies on both extreme sides of the coin.


THURSDAY April 17, 2008
Late Tuesday afternoon, my beloved Havowart Dewey sat down and couldn't get up. This had happened once before but he was OK within a few hours. I figured it was his hip problems. This time he wasn't OK and his back legs remained totally paralyzed. He was about 100 pounds and there was no way I could get him to a vet. Wednesday is a bad day to need a house call vet so I stayed with him downstairs in the shop all night. His pain increased and I was able to get him some pain medication but the vet couldn't come until today. She checked him over and it wasn't his hips. There was nerve blockage. Why? Perhaps it was a tumor that finally pressed on the nerves. A 100 pound dog who can't use his back legs could not continue to have a happy life - especially living with someone with a bad back in a three-story building. He was also in pain and when the vet was trying to examine him, he went ballistic and tried to bite her. This was certainly not Dewey's personality. A few minutes later he showed his true personality as he gently put his head on her lap despite the fact that moments earlier he was vicious with pain. I sat with him and skritched his head as the vet injected him. It amazes me how peaceful a dog becomes as life ebbs away especially if they have been in pain. When my 20 year old Silky Terrier had to be euthanized last October, I expected it. I didn't expect it with Dewey so it is really difficult for me and I know I will miss him very much. I moved to Colorado with 4 cats and 3 dogs. I now have 2 cats and 1 dog. I have had 7 dogs throughout my life and without a doubt; Dewey will leave the biggest hole in my heart.

The photo to the right is probably my favorite because it sums up his goofy personality.  King of the couch! Ten years ago just before Christmas, a friend called me. She had gotten a call from a woman who said her neighbors had moved away and left a dog tied up to their balcony. My mother was visiting so she took my bed and I was sleeping on an airbed in my office. I had previously had a "Ranch" Airedale that lived to 15. He was a gorgeous big boy - close to 90 pounds. When he was older, I had a lot of problems helping him move around and I decided that I would never have a BIG dog again. My friend assured me that this dog was the size of a Border Collie and looked young but was probably full grown. Yeah sure! The pseudo-border collie was delivered to my home. The first night he bounced all over the air mattress until it broke and I was sleeping on the floor and my cat, Nimbus, disappeared behind a bookcase for 8 days until Christmas morning. I knew he wasn't a Border Collie but I had no idea what he was - maybe a little bit of Gordon Setter with some Bernese Mountain Dog ... maybe even with a bit of Border Collie?  A friend and I were trying to figure him out and I looked at him and said. "We don't know what kind of dog you are, do we?" The "do we" part turned into his name. It seemed like a properly goofy name for a seriously goofy yet very handsome dawg. He had lived with me for a few years when I took him to a new veterinarian. The minute Dewey walked in, the receptionist exclaimed, "Wow, you have a Havowart!" I had no idea what she meant - I felt like touching my face and saying, "I thought I had that removed." As soon as I got home, I looked up Havowart on the Internet and found out that I had a very rare and expensive dog. How he ended up as a rescue dog is beyond me. I had never seen one and figured he was "just" a wonderful mutt (as many mutts are!).  Dewey was a remarkably gentle happy dog. Ten years was not enough time!

FRIDAY April 4, 2008

This is an email I received today about a bird club raffling a cockatoo. What do you think about live birds being raffled at bird shows?

"I am a cockatoo owner, active in my local exotic bird rescue and member of my local bird club, as well as the World Parrot Trust and several online parrot welfare groups.  I was deeply disturbed to read in the Acadiana Bird Club press release (see below) that you plan to raffle a live cockatoo at your bi-annual bird fair.  I urge you to reconsider and cancel the raffle.

 

The raffling of live animals of ANY kind should be illegal, but particularly a long-lived bird such as a cockatoo, which requires a knowledgable, committed owner.  On your website, your club claims to "promote the health and well being of all pet & breeder birds," but the raffling of an exotic bird to the general public is directly counter to this stated goal. 

 

I will be forwarding information about your cockatoo raffle to all my parrot-owning friends across the country, and am recommending that anyone in your area that had plans on attending this fair boycott it and/or protest the raffle in person.

 

Sincerely, 

Sarah Becker

Kansas City, MO

 

ACADIANA BIRD FAIR

The Acadiana Bird Club presents its 29th Bi-Annual Bird Fair this weekend, April 5th and 6th, at the Heymann Performing Arts and Convention Center, located at 1373 South College Road in Lafayette.  It's the largest bird fair in Louisiana!

You'll see all kinds of beautiful birds, both handfed and breeder, plus you'll be able to visit and network with other bird owners throughout the South.  Thinking about becoming a bird owner?  This is the place to get all your questions answered and get advice from the experts.  Everything bird-related will be there, from toys and cages to bird supplies.
A gorgeous cockatoo will be raffled off, as well. The Bird Fair runs Saturday, April 5 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, April 6 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  All proceeds are donated to avian research and to local charities, including the Acadiana Muscular Dystrophy Association. 
For more information, log on to the Club's website at www.acadianabirdclub.com.  We'll see you at the Fair
Here are the contact for the breeder bird club:
General info: acadianabirdinc@hotmail.com
President: Donald Menard (337) 937-5113 Email: dmenard582@aol.com

FRIDAY March 28, 2008

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:
I found another way to get healthy into my parrots. I bought Flax Plus Lifestream Organic Whole Grain Waffles and toasted two of them. I mixed sweet potato baby food, lowfat yogurt, and a little bit of almond butter together and spread it on the one of the waffles and then put the other waffle on top. I cut it into 6 wedges and my parrots love it!

THURSDAY March 27, 2008


PHOBIC ROSIE

How long does this flu thing last? I had been feeling better but I woke up this morning feeling horrible. I made the mistake of thinking I could go back to sleep for a few minutes and woke up at 5pm. I must have needed the sleep! The daily mail had a letter from a woman I met in New Jersey last October. It was the kind of letter that makes me feel much better. I really like to know when my information makes a difference. That is what it is all about!

Dear Sally,

"The last time you made a presentation at Bird Paradise in Burlington N.J. I spoke to you about my 2 year old very phobic Rose-breasted Cockatoo. I told you that for about a year every time I approached his cage he would flail himself around and scream in terror! Forget about even touching him unless he fell to the floor and then I'd have to chase him down and throw a towel over him in order to get him back in the cage. I tried everything I knew how to tame down a bird with behavior problems - 20 years + of working with our Adoption Program at least gave me some experience but nothing worked with the Rosie!

You suggested that I read your articles on dealing with phobic Rosies, plus your publication on Cockatoos. I am extremely happy to tell you that "we" had a miracle occur on Thursday! I had to get Widget out of his cage for his annual vet appointment. I thought what the heck, I'll slowly extend my arm towards him just to see what he would do - he stepped onto my arm and allowed me to place him into his carrier. I almost fainted! Once at the vet's office I opened the carrier door (in the exam room) and whispered to him he was such a good boy and he lowered his head to be petted. I quickly obliged him! I was in tears when my vet came in the room - she though something was terribly wrong  and when I explained what happened everyone got emotional.

When I came home I sat down on the sofa with the carrier, slowly opened it and he climbed right up to my shoulder, put his head on my cheek and allowed me to give him at least a hundred kisses on his beak! He was actually licking up my tears of joy! He's come out of the cage twice yesterday and we've had some very serious loving going on! It's almost like he's a sponge soaking up all the loving he's missed over the past year! I know his personality could always go phobic again but I am willing to do everything you taught me to bring him back again - even if it takes another year to do it. Thank you!!
Sincerely,
Pat

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:  Parrots are prey animals, which means that predators hunt them for food. They have to be wary and vigilant in the wild. Just because they are domestically raised, their predator responses do not go away. If for some reason a parrot-family bird becomes traumatized, he or she may go into "prey mode," which means that the bird has a strong fear response. With some parrots this can result in aggressive behavior. With others it can turn into phobic behavior. It is not always clear as to what caused the fear response but the bird often becomes afraid of almost everything including the person who was his best friend. The best way to get him back is to as "un-predator like " as possible. This means being submissive - little or no direct eye contact, lowered head, quiet conversation, and the opportunity for him to come to you rather than you trying to make him come to you. It works!


WEDNESDAY March 26, 2008


I think that I will do a little "name-dropping."
There are three men whom I have been lucky enough to meet and spend a little time with. Each one has had quite an influence on me and the world of birds. I wanted to write about my short experiences with them.

CHARLEY HARPER
        The first is Charley Harper. Since he was not a parrot artist, I will presume that his work is not familiar to everyone who reads this. Back in the early 1980s when I was making my living doing my wood sculptures, I had a showing of my work with Charley in St. Louis. I lived in Wichita, KS at the time and had been become close friends with a woman named Helen Brewer. Helen was a bit younger than my mother and became a sort of surrogate mother for me when I lived in Wichita. She collected Charles Harper prints. The minute I saw one, I knew I had found a kindred spirit in the art world and I started collecting his serigraphs. The man was a design genius and his work, like mine, was based more on a minimal perception of the bird rather than great detail. In fact when he was asked by someone to compare his work with Audubon's, he replied, "I don't count the feathers, I only count the wings."  When I had my
show in St, Louis, I took Helen with me so she could also meet Charley and his wife Edie, who is also an accomplished print maker.

From the moment I first met Charley and Edie, I thoroughly enjoyed their company. Just seeing his work, one would know that he had a wonderful sense of humor. We clicked and spent a great deal of the day coming up with bird puns and laughing. Charley's work could be serious too and each piece came with descriptive prose. His "Pelican in a Downpour" talked about the Brown Pelican and DDT. It was an unforgettable day. Charley even took one of my suggestions and turned it into serigraph - "Redbirds in the Redbuds." He went home with my favorite Wood Duck sculpture (pictured above) and I went home with a few more of his serigraphs. I begged Charley to do a parrot - I even suggested the concept of a Double-headed Yellow Amazon. To my knowledge, the only parrot Charley did was an early Carolina Parakeet and a small depiction of one on a poster.

A few years later my friend Helen and her husband Joe had a horrible house fire. Helen's collection of Harper prints was destroyed.  I called Charley and asked him if there was any chance of getting a discounted price on some of the prints so I could replace them for Helen. He asked me which ones she had lost in the fire and I gave him a list. A few weeks later, he sent her a package of all of them without any invoice. This was one of the most generous gifts that I have ever witnessed in my life and it says a lot about the kind of man that Charley Harper was. Charley died last year and even though I had not seen him in years, I felt a serious loss. He had many fans and admirers both in the worlds of nature and design. Todd Oldham (the TV design guru) "discovered" Charley a few years ago and has done a sumptuous volume on Charley's work called Charley Harper, An Illustrated Life. I am sure that Mr. Oldham's attention will bring Charley a whole new group of fans. An early book on Charley's work has been reprinted, Birds & Words and a second book shows most of his serigraphs on birds and animals, Beguiled by the Wild. Regretfully, I have several of his serigraphs for sale. To see them, click Charley Harper.



ROGER TORY PETERSON

Many years ago I showed my bird sculptures at an Audubon Conference at Rocky Mountain National Park. Roger Tory Peterson was the main event. He stopped by my display and spent some time looking at my work. It was an awesome experience having him comment on the various pieces and complement me on my sculptures. There were many pioneers in the world of bird watching but Peterson is without a doubt the best known and the most highly respected. His guidebook format made bird watching and bird identification possible for everyone. He was also a very accomplished bird artist. I have two of his limited prints for sale.

I met Roger Tory Peterson again. I was bird watching in southern Arizona. I had gone out very early in the morning and was coming back when I noticed Mr.Peterson coming down the path with several other people. I didn't expect him to remember me, but he recognized me as being someone he had met before and asked me if I had seen anything interesting. I have a reputation for messing up words and my my answer to him was one of my best. I told him that I had seen my first "suffer-berried frycrotcher."  As I remember, he gave me a quizzical glance and then stated that he didn't think he had ever seen one of those. I was trying to say "sulfur-bellied flycatcher." Maybe that made me more memorable than my bird sculptures?

ALEXANDER SKUTCH
      As a collector of bird books, I was familiar with the name that the writings of Alexander Skutch. This man was amazing. When I met him, he was 78 and he had the vigor of a man half his age. I went to Costa Rica on a group bird watching tour. We were lucky enough to visit his farm south of San Ysidro and have Mr. Skutch take us on a bird watching tour of his farm Los Cusingos (named after the native name for the native Fiery-billed Aracari. Skutch hated snakes and he brought a machete with him. His logic was that man had created an imbalance that made survival more difficult for the bird populations. Because of this, he "discouraged" snakes. As we were walking sown the path, he made a motion for us to stay back and "whap, whap, thump" a bird-eating snake was permanently discouraged. He also "discouraged" raptors for the same reason with the exception of the Laughing Falcon that eats lots of snakes. It shocked me when he dispatched the snake but I understood and respected his choice. When he first came to Costa Rica as a botanist to study bananas, he became fascinated with birds. He moved to a very secluded area of rainforest in the late 1930's. Eventually he built a house out of cattle dung and straw. No it didn't stink and if you didn't know, you couldn't tell. When I was there over 25 years ago, the Skutch's farm was the only natural land left in the area. The rainforest had become extremely segmented. I was able to talk with him for 15 or 20 minutes about parrots and he lamented that he really rarely, if ever, saw parrots especially the large macaws, in his area any longer because of the loss of habitat. When he first lived there, he would see them fly over or nest nearby on a daily basis.

Dr. Skutch and his wife Pamela lived what most of us would consider a very primitive life but this life inspired him to provide the world with in-depth knowledge of the life histories of the birds of Central America and the world.  Not only did he write about families of birds, he also wrote several books on philosophy - especially the philosophy of nature. I was always hoping that Dr. Skutch would write a book about the parrot family but he never did. He died in 2004 just days before his 100th birthday. He made arrangements a few years before his death so his farm and its natural land would become the Los Cusingos Neotropical Bird Sanctuary. Although I just spent an afternoon with him along with about 20 other people, I feel privileged to have spent time with Alexander Skutch.

MONDAY March 24, 2008

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: There are several reasons why some species of penguins are in trouble due to global warming. The Antarctica is vast but there is still a concern for habitat loss as ice shelves break into the ocean. The main concern however is a break in the food chain. The main diet for several penguins and sea mammals is krill. Krill a very small shrimp-like organism and it takes a lot of them to feed the animals that eat them. Krill eat the algae that grows on the underside of the Antarctic ice shelves. As these ice shelves fall into the ocean, there is less algae, which means less krill for the penguins and the sea mammals that dine on them. The balance of nature is both amazing and intricate and the loss of one "apparently" simple aspect can cause devastation at a much higher level. .  


FRIDAY March 21, 2008

If there is anyone reading this who lives within driving distance of Loveland, I am in great need of a volunteer to help me with some cataloging work  I am trying to get the vast majority of my items for sale on my web site and I need someone to help me measure the items and make sure that they all have a price on them. If you can help, please call me at 970-278-0233 or email me at staff@companionparrot.com

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Did you know that some early ornithologists (1800s) classified the Palm Cockatoo as a Macaw because of its bare face. Some scientists referred to the Palm cockatoo as the "Great Ara" despite the fact that it was from a totally different area of the world than the macaws. Ara is the genus name for most of the large macaws. I wonder if the ornithologists faces were red when they realized that the Palm was a cockatoo and not a macaw? The drawing is from my new book on Companion Cockatoos. Did you also know that the Palm never closes his beak entirely? 

THURSDAY  March  20, 2008

I don't think this flu stuff will ever be through with me. I got my first symptoms in early January but every time I seem to get better, I seem to get worse again with different symptoms. I have talked with people all over the country who have had the same thing. Yuck. Luckily I felt well enough to give my program in Albuquerque but the next day I spent the day in bed at my host's home and evidently missed some really good Mexican food.

I have been neglectful of posting to this blog, I thought I would try to add some parrot information at least a few times a week. Some thing that I thought of - it may be something simple or something more complicated. Today it is something simple ....

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:  Today I realized that the person who is helping me take care of my parrots was adding the baby food carrots to the water before she cooked the noodles. She didn't realize how much vitamin A is lost in this manner. From now on she knows to put any of the vitamin A baby foods into the glop or other moist and cooked foods that we feed after it has been cooked.


WEDNESDAY February 13, 2008

In October I was approached about speaking at the Midwest Bird Expo in April. I was in New Jersey and said that I was pretty sure that I could but I needed to check my schedule

Since people found out that I was speaking at this event, I have had several write to tell me that they were looking forward to meeting and hearing me. This communication is for people who will wonder why I am not scheduled to speak anymore.

However, I have been asked to speak at the Northern Illinois Parrot Society (NIPS) event on September 27, 2008 - so the people who were anxious to hear me speak in the Chicago area, will get to hear me there.

In regards to being canceled as a speaker ...

I sent an acceptance e-mail on 11/24/07;

I meant to answer you much sooner but have been swamped and forgot. I had a really good time in NJ too and Kathy asked me back for next year.

I would enjoy coming to Chicago. I would need my expenses paid plus a booth for my artwork, etc. I would also ask for ----- speaking. I don’t mind staying in a club member’s guestroom instead or a hotel as long as they do not smoke. Let me know if this will work out.
Sally 

REPLY

Sally,
I had a TASC meeting tonight and the answer is YES!!  I'm so excited!!  They need to know your airport so they can make arrangements.  In the mean time go to www.tasc-chicago.org and fill out the vendor information.  Your table will be close to me and Irene.  When you go in to talk - I can have someone watch your table or sell your things if you want. We can talk about that later. We have time but I'll be looking into either putting you in a hotel with Irene or having you stay with someone. … I think if Arlene comes she'll stay in the same hotel as Irene. I may put you there - depending on how many of them will be there to keep you company. We'll set up our tables on Friday night.  They'll fly you in Friday morning or Thursday evening and send you home Sunday afternoon. 

REPLY
I fly out of Denver and always prefer an aisle seat. I can’t leave too early in the morning (before 9) as I have to take an hour shuttle from where I live. This adds $60 to the travel costs. I don’t care which airline I fly but I am not very fond of Southwest but would fly it if is much cheaper for your organization.
Sally

On February 1st I received the following email from Jason Creen:
Sally,
I am the Director of the Midwest Bird Expo coming up in April. Due to our time constraints, we will need to cancel your appearance at our event.  We have not heard from you and since we have people pre-registering, we had to be sure we secure all speakers and vendors by February 1st.  ______________________________________________________________       

My reaction to the cancellation is that it is absurd. I wonder if the man who canceled me for the event even knows  what I have been doing in regards to parrots for the last 30 years. I also wonder if their might not be some other "political agenda." I will add the statement that although I hadn’t filled out the vendor form, from the e-mail it seemed to me that this was a formality and I believed that I had fully committed to coming to the event and gave them the flight information I was asked for. I also was told by e-mail that I had a booth and where it would be.  

If the man had gotten in touch with me earlier in the week, I probably wouldn't have answered right away since I have had a horrible sinus infection with an accompanying headache. I am way less than perfect in my communication with people. I get over 150 e-mails a day (and 25-50 phone calls). While some of them are spam that my filter doesn’t catch, most of them are about parrots. People want advice, they want to order, they are asking me to speak, they are complaining about something I did or didn't do, and sending me all sorts of stuff that I would probably enjoy if I had the time. At this time, I don’t have an employee and I never seem to catch up on anything – from writing, to packing and shipping orders, from doing ordered art work, taking care of my animals, running the Laughing Parrot Gallery, and so on. I rarely give advice by email anymore because 95% of the people I help with a question never even write back to thank me. I am often neglectful in doing some of the things I need to do. I virtually can't help it right now. It frustrates me and it frustrates the people who are trying to get in touch with me. To tell me the deadline has passed on the day that it passed without notifying me of an actual deadline is something I simply don’t understand.  

I have only reneged on a speaking commitment twice in the over twenty years I have been traveling to give programs and seminars. Until my elderly mother came to live me, I gave 6 to 12 programs a year. One time I developed a serious and painful knee injury about a week before I was supposed to speak in Canada and was unable to walk comfortably until I had surgery. The other time I got a really bad case of the flu and had to cancel a few days before the event. Other than that I have traveled and spoken a few times when I should have stayed home. For example, there are people that will still remember when I spoke less than a week after major surgery to have a large suspicious tumor removed from my thyroid and ended up having my entire thyroid removed.  I still had the bandage on my neck.  I also flew to England a week or so after 9/11 despite the fact that no one I knew (particularly my mother) wanted me to go. I figured it would be the safest time to fly.

I will certainly miss visiting with Dr. Pepperberg in April but I will see her in October when I speak in New Jersey again.

TUESDAY February 12, 2008


I have not had much time to write anything on the blog lately. In November I realized something very important to my success and the success of the CPQ. Before my mother became ill and I had to spend so much of my time caring for her, I was doing OK financially. The CPQ has rarely paid for itself and in California it was costing me about $20,000.00 to print and mail each issue.
I will write more about this later. 

I went through my records and realized that the time I was most comfortable financially and able to support the CPQ was when I put out books. So I sat down at my computer and started writing books and it seems that I didn’t take any break at all except for from mid-January to the first part of February when I had some nasty bug that turned into a killer sinus headache. My computer was no doubt feeling lonely as it is quite rare for me not to have it on at least 18 hours a day.

I have now finished writing two books: Companion Cockatoos 116 pages and finally Companion Amazons 156 pages. I am also in the middle of Companion Caiques and Companion African Greys. None of them have been printed yet as I am waiting for the final proofreading to print the cockatoo book.  I am also looking for funding to print these books, but luckily the cost won’t be as exorbitant here as in California. Companion Cockatoos will be first – probably available in mid-March because of the delay in getting the proof reading back.  Then I will print Companion Amazons and hopefully it will be out by May. I also plan a Companion Macaws but I am not sure when the Caique, Grey, and Macaw books will come out.

I believe that once these books are out it will be much easier to start getting the CPQ out in a timely manner. There will be several changes in the CPQ mostly because it has been so difficult to get advertising. With a lot less advertising the magazine will become thinner but the content will be about what it has been. Most likely, each issue will have a topic that will be covered. I will write the main article and will have articles by a few other people on the same topic. If anyone reading this has any ideas for a topic, please let me know.

Although it has been a long time since the issue of the CPQ came out, I am dedicated to continuing the publication. The last two years have been very difficult for many reasons.

 

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