Friday, December 23, 2005
Monday, December 19, 2005
• 350 known species in the world.
• Among the smartest of birds, along with crows, jays and mynah birds. The average parrot tests at the level of primates and can learn to speak with comprehension. Alex, an African Grey parrot, is a longtime subject of Dr. Irene Pepperberg at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass. Alex has learned to read phonetically and can count.
• They mate for life. Will come when they hear one of their flock in trouble – this is often how many are caught by poachers.
• The larger the parrot, the longer the lifespan. Large macaws can live to more than 100, while a budgie can live into its 20s. An Amazon can live to 70.
• They’re destructive, and are able to exert hundreds of pounds of pressure with their can-openerlike beaks. Large birds can chisel at walls, and can quickly turn broomsticks, furniture, even kitchen cabinets into toothpicks.
• Largest is a Hyacinth macaw with a 4-foot wingspan and a beak-to-tail length of 3 feet.
• Smallest are pygmy parrots, which measure 3.6 inches long and are found only in New Guinea and nearby islands.
• Heaviest are the male Kakapo at 61/2 pounds. Flightless, they live in New Zealand and are highly endangered, with only 62 Kakapos left in the wild.
• More presidents have had birds than cats as pets. William McKinley appointed his parrot, named Washington Post, the official White House greeter.
Friday, December 09, 2005
Working with the sanctuary's 500-plus birds has helped volunteers work towards Achievement Awards, which were presented to them on Friday by East Lindsey District Council's chief executive Nigel Howells.
The placement came about after a partnership was developed between the sanctuary, the Shaw Trust charity and Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Trust. "The sanctuary has provided a fantastic stepping stone to work for our clients and empowered many people to achieve qualifications and progressions into work, even self employment," said Shaw Trust area manager Debbie Brackner.
Sunday, November 06, 2005
Finally, as the sun starts setting, she hears them coming. They say "creeo" and "kraak, kraak, kraak."
Then they appear, flying out of the golf course and into high trees on Vista Del Monte Street in the Upper Valley. Joyner's object of affection -- a growing flock of red-crowned parrots.
"The evening is their social time," Joyner said. "They have foraged for the day. They just bop around and talk. They work out future mates and places to forage."
Upper Valley residents are used to their unlikely feathered neighbors, but the parrots' presence is shrouded in mystery. How did they get to El Paso when their natural habitat is northeastern Mexico? Where do they go all day?
Joyner, a Central El Paso resident, a pastor at Unitarian Universalist Community Church and an avian veterinarian, learned of the birds when she moved to El Paso about three years ago.She had studied parrots in Guatemala for 10 years and quickly identified the species.
Then, she set out to count them -- 19 so far -- and study them. Keeping track of the parrots is necessary to protect them, she said.
Now Joyner would like the locals to help with her project. When she goes bird-watching, she brings a stack of questionnaires with her, asking "Parrots in the Upper Valley -- Have you seen them?"
One evening last week, Upper Valley jogger Vickie Bruder stopped to chat."
A friend has an almond tree and they're always in them, eating almonds," she told Joyner. "They're loud and obnoxious. I love them."
Joyner said she was impressed by how much residents love the parrots and how protective they are of them.
Beth McCoy lives near where the parrots roost. She said the parrots were a well-guarded secret."
Even before we moved here, we knew people in this neighborhood and they never said anything about the parrots," she said.
The McCoys discovered the birds by themselves."
They're a joy. They're just so cool to watch. Our daughter screams to them and they answer," McCoy said.
Joyner said she won't say exactly where the parrots roost, that is, spend the night, because thieves could try to snatch the young parrots to sell.
The exotic pet trade is probably the origin of the flock, Joyner said.
Her sleuthing found that Upper Valley residents saw a pair of parrots flying around about 10 years ago.
These parrots, which live in Mexico and around Brownsville, were 300 to 400 miles outside of their range. They might have been escaped pets, bird experts said.
The younger parrots are probably offspring of the first pair hatched in the Upper Valley.
Bob Johnson, the field-trip chairman for the El Paso Audubon Society, has not been to see the Upper Valley parrots. But he says another unlikely flock of a different kind of parrot in the Lower Valley were probably escaped pets.
"People catch them in Mexico and bring them to Juárez to sell them and they escape," Johnson said.
That flock was seen in the vicinity of North Loop and Carolina streets.
Joyner found the Upper Valley flock by riding her bicycle around in March until she spotted a pair. She then looked for big trees the parrots like to hide in, and spotted the old cottonwood trees on the golf course. She waited for sundown, and the parrots flew out of those very trees. Joyner had found her parrots.
Across the street from the golf court lives Courteney Littlepage, a Coronado High School student. She picked up a questionnaire from Joyner last week and talked about the parrots."They're so loud.
They're cute, though. My mom is so into them," she said enthusiastically. "It's so random to have parrots. It's like a jungle here."
Sunday, October 30, 2005
The birds, two macaws, one umbrella cockatiel and one African gray parrot, ranged in age from 4 to 32 years. Lege said there are more than 300 living species in the parrot family.
Lege has a thing about birds.
"I have had a passion for birds ever since I was a young boy," he said. "At 4 years old I had a little parakeet."
More than 20 years ago, he started a rescue operation for abused and neglected parrots, eventually building an addition onto his North Apollo, Armstrong County, home. His own little aviary, he said, is now home to more than 70 parrots.
Lege believes parrots are the worst pet impulse buy.
"Someone goes into the pet store, sees this beautiful creature, the bird comes over to the side of the cage and says, 'Hello.' People think, 'I have to have it. It talked to me,'" Lege said.
But people taken with their bright colors and singing may not be aware of the amount of care and time the birds require.
"They can be a lifetime companion," he said, noting some of the birds can live to be 80 or older. "And they are a lifetime commitment."
Lege, who regularly appears with his birds at schools, festivals, before church groups and for birthday parties, recently entertained the crowds at September's Murrysville Community Day.
Dubbed "That Guy With the Birds" by people in his community, Lege, 52, emphasizes education as much as entertainment to his audiences.
Those who attend the programs learn about the birds' habitat, adaptation and communication skills.
Lege has volunteered with the National Aviary in Pittsburgh and is a member of the national volunteer organization Parrot Education & Adoption Center.
Amy Padolf, curator of education at the National Aviary, said volunteers such as Lege are always needed. And they do not necessarily need to know a great deal about birds.
"It's all about interest and passion," she said. "They do everything from care and feeding and husbandry to guided tours of the facility.
"They are an incredible help," she said, noting that Lege started as a docent.
After learning how to handle the Aviary's birds, he began assisting with visitor programs.
"He's an incredible, incredible presenter," Padolf said. "He has a way with children."
His own efforts at caring for abused and neglected birds and his business have kept him from spending a lot of time volunteering lately, she said.
More than simply feeding and caring for his rescued birds, Padolf said, "he engages them. We're pretty proud of him."
He is still educating people, she said, "in his own way."
Programs such as Lege's, she said, "keep people interested in birds and in conservation."
Parrots, Lege said, are very social birds, and require their owners to pay attention to them and to interact with them.
"They are flock animals," he said. "... You are caging it . It's meant to be free."
Also, he said, birds are vocal two times a day, sunup and sundown.
"They start to scream for attention, and they can be very loud," Lege said. "You may ask it to quiet down and give it a treat. You've just reinforced the scream."
Regularly covering up birds' cages is one way people abuse them without realizing it.
Covering their cages is very stressful for the birds, he said.
"It takes away their vision, their world," Lege said.
Some parrots are very family friendly; some are more "one-person" birds.
People considering adding a parrot to their home, he said, should "do the research and talk to the right people."
Spreading the message
Lege said he worked for Sterling Industries as a regional parts manager for 28 years. The company's headquarters were located in the World Trade Center in New York City. After Sept. 11, 2001, he said, he was out of a job.
Many people suggested he turn his education program into a business, and "That Guy with the Birds" was born.
A good friend, Linda Kirkman, assists him with many of his shows, and his parents, John and Betty Lege, of Vandergrift, also help out with the business.
Lege's biggest reward is seeing his audience's response.
"It's amazing how much kids remember," he said, "from the bird's name to where they come from to what they eat."
He regularly travels with an assortment of birds to New York, Ohio, Washington, D.C., as well as all over Western Pennsylvania.
Averaging three programs a week, his audiences are as small as eight children for a birthday party to 600 children at a school assembly.
He plays the guitar and does some magic tricks as part of his show, and some of the birds play ring toss or ride tiny bicycles.
"They have their own personalities and do different things," Lege said.
Lee Lee, he said, is descended from entertainment royalty. She is the granddaughter of a bird who performed with the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus.
Sometimes, he said, people approach him at events and offer to buy one of the birds.
"They are my family," he said. "There is not enough money in the world to buy any of these birds."
And though he cautions people to think carefully before taking one home, he added, "For the right person, there's nothing like it."
Lege does not plan to stop "touring" any time soon.
"I'm making a living at it and I couldn't be happier," he said. "They are my kids."
Sunday, October 16, 2005
They made loud noises: "Ack! Ack! Ack!"
They marched up and down River Road, these parrot fans, spied on a nest they call "the love shack," stared at a W-shaped bird condo and hung out beneath a sign to see how feathered types of all kinds can get along with a non-native species.
The first Parrots of Edgewater tour was Sunday. That the crowd was sparse - three people plus a reporter - was of little matter to the organizers, a 20-year borough resident and a guy who keeps tabs on a similar flock in Brooklyn.
"A lot of bird people don't really approve of this," confided Steve Baldwin, the Brooklynite. "The parrots are considered to be an invasive species. As far as the state is concerned, they're a potentially dangerous species. That's just not so. These little green friends, these creatures, are a wonderful feature in town."
Truly, the birds - called Quaker parrots or monk parakeets - have some enemies. In Edgewater, Public Service Electric and Gas Co. crews routinely remove the birds' twig nests - some of them the size of filing cabinets — from utility poles. In the birds' native Argentina, government officials say they decimate corn crops.
No one is sure how the birds arrived in America, but it's generally believed that in 1967 they escaped from a shipping crate at John F. Kennedy International Airport and flew to Brooklyn; later, some settled in Edgewater. Soon after, New Jersey wildlife officials said the birds were nothing but bad news, and extended them no protection.
On Sunday, Alison Evans-Fragale, the tour organizer, said the parrots' reputation was undeserved. The tour, she said, was to show how the birds can thrive in places other than utility poles, how they feed and live alongside sparrows, starlings and pigeons - themselves non-native species - and how they inspire delight and wonder amid some of the densest real estate in New Jersey.
In January, Evans-Fragale founded EdgwaterParrots.com, which tells the birds' story, urges action to foster them and lists contact information for free tours.
"We have a bill in the Assembly that's to be voted on in November," she said. "It says that if and when the utilities do tear-downs, we can receive any of the babies. And they won't be able to tear them down during breeding."
In the meantime, Baldwin, Evans-Fragale and other parrot fans are experimenting with nesting platforms, made with plywood and chicken wire, to encourage the birds to build away from the poles. As it is, the parrots have colonized trees along River Road. They've turned a four-sided covered sign at the entrance to a high-rise into a model of species relations, sharing living space with pigeons and smaller birds.
"This is the Empire State Building of nests," Baldwin said near "the W tree," the pigeon fanciers' name for a three-trunked monstrosity a block west of River Road.
"Look!" he called as a dozen pigeons flew to the tree. "The flyover!"
"Good timing!" called Deborah Alperin, who had ridden the bus from Manhattan just for the tour.
Evans-Fragale explained the birds' calls.
"This kind of greeting is 'Hey, hi! I'm here!'Ÿ" she said. "That 'Ack! Ack! Ack!' is 'C'mon, there's food here!'Ÿ" A pause, and then she and Baldwin cried: "Ack! Ack! Ack!"
Ten minutes at "the W tree" and it was time to move along. The talk turned to the parrots' diet, and Baldwin ticked off a list: grain, nuts, dandelion shoots and leaves, and baked goods of all kinds.
"They like bagels," he said. "These are urban birds."
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
"The blue ones are my favorite," he said, kneeling in one corner with seed sticks extended in his hand toward a trio of the palm-size birds.
Amid a cacophony of high-pitched squawks from hundreds of Australian parrots, some of which whooshed past his head, Madison retained his focus and sense of awe in his miniquest to find and feed at least one of each of the distinct varieties of colorful birds at the zoo's Willawong Station.
The popular exhibit has attracted more than 1,000 people every weekend since it opened in late May, said the zoo's collections manager, Helen Shewman.
It has proved to be such a success that the zoo is opening the exhibit for free strolls -- sans seed sticks -- during the week.
"This will be really nice in the winter," Shewman said. "It'll be warm in here."
Families like Madison's poured through the door Sunday into the indoor habitat -- which was made to resemble the sparse grasslands of Australia -- and repeated the seek-and-feed routine, with birds sometimes suddenly swooping down onto waiting hands.
Shocked looks dissolved into smiles as visitors got used to the feather-light birds on their shoulders and arms. Other parents hoisted sticks up into trees and brought down perched birds to pass on to their children.
The birds seemed unfazed by squeals of delight from toddlers, but a dropped heavy bag could startle them into enormous flutters of protective flocking laps near the ceiling.
Madison had no hesitation in approaching the birds, which have grown accustomed to perching on the small sticks and pecking away at their mobile meals. He fed the very common green budgies, as well as cockatiels, princess parrots, Bourke's parrots and big rainbow-colored Eastern Rosellas, before finally getting to the blue budgie. Mission accomplished.
Kaya Fletcher, 10, of Port Orchard echoed the same preference in a similar quest to get one to fly onto her stick.
Those with Hitchcockian-fueled fears of our feathered friends need not worry; beaks are baby-small on the ubiquitous budgies, and the larger birds shy away to the highest branches. Those splattered by birdie bombs can ask for Handi Wipes from attendants.
Madison speculated about whether the different-colored birds were of the same species, and more than friends. "I think the blue one and green one are loving on each other."
Yes, it's true -- birds do it in this aviary.
One amorous couple of green budgies -- a female and an overprotective boyfriend fending off advances from the other males -- swooped on Ron North, a Lynnwood man visiting the zoo with his wife, Karla, and their two young children.
Keeper Jean Ragland explained that the two budgies make regular rounds onto visitors, looking for a suitable love nest.
Karla North said her kids loved their first visit to Willawong.
"There's never an opportunity to see the animals like this," she said. "They can interact with them in here, instead of seeing them sitting in a cage."
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
The parrot refuge is home to around 450 of the exotic birds and it can get a bit deafening in the large barn-like buildings the birds occupy. Imagine that may toddlers in a room."We give away complimentary earplugs," Seeland says, laughing.The birds even play with the same brightly coloured, plastic toys a child would."[Parrots] are very, very intelligent," Seeland says. "Basically, they dissemble things. The [toys] they really like they'll destroy."He says the toys are just as important to the birds as food and water. Without them, the birds get bored and stressed - and than start pulling out their feathers.
The facility goes through a lot of toys and would be glad to have people clean out their basements or garages and pass unused toys along."Parrots would love to have them to play with," Seeland says.Most people wouldn't think of parrots as cuddly in the way they would about dog or cat. But parrots actually need physical attention.The resident escaping parrot, Charlie, likes to wander around until he's picked up and petted. Once picked up, he'll often say "Love Charlie, love Charlie."Other parrots need the physical attention to help rehabilitate them if they have come from a bad home or are in distress.Oscar, who is starting to grow back his feathers, wouldn't let anyone touch him. Seeland spent many hours working with the bird, which now sits on his shoulder and says "hello" in a quiet voice.
The parrot refuge, which has been open since June, needs more volunteers willing to take time to love the birds."It doesn't take a lot of training to shower love on a bird," says Seeland.Volunteers to conduct tours of the facility for visitors are also needed."You need to know what you're talking about," Seeland says.
The World Parrot Refuge is hosting volunteer seminars Sept. 29 and Oct. 1 to show interested people what the facility is about - and what they are getting themselves into.You don't need to know anything about parrots, but you do have to have an interest in them. The seminars will cover parrot food preparation; show off the birds; explain what the facility does; show parrot-holding techniques and give a tour so those who might consider becoming a tour guide will know what is expected."We'll give them a living example of what a docent [guide] would do and a living example of what auxiliary staff would do," Seeland says. "I want people to see, hands-on, what they'd be doing."The parrots also like music. Seeland, also a musician, plays for the birds, which have their own special way of dancing."They quite enjoyed it," Seeland says. "Musicians can come in and audition for the birds."The birds will decide for themselves if they like the tunes.The Sept. 29 seminar runs from 3 to 4:30 p.m. and the Oct. 1 seminar is from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Musicians who want to play at the refuge can come to the Oct. 1 seminar. Both the seminars are at the World Parrot Refuge at 2116 Alberni Highway. Volunteers need to be 16 years old and up.
Monday, September 19, 2005
"Do you want to build a bird house?"
That was an easy question for 5-year-old Anders Warrick, who shouted an excited "Yes!" as did a crowd of other children clamoring to get their hands on a hammer Saturday morning.
Hundreds of children and their parents poured into the Benton County Fairgrounds for the third annual Kids Day for Conservation.
Mixing science, social activism and a lot of fun, Kids Day for Conservation is a way for local natural resource organizations to extend their message to children, and through children, their parents. Everyone from 4-H to the Boy Scouts of America to Starker Forests was on hand to present ideas of preserving and enjoying natural resources through fun and games.
For birdhouse builder Anders' parents, Wendy Williams and Doug Warrick, who are both biologists, the event was a natural extension of the lessons young Anders already learns at home.
"We hammer that in at home anyway," Williams said. Since Anders is so young, they let him enjoy the activities at events like Kids Day, and then go over the science with him when they get home. Anders had made the rounds already, trying out a little bit of everything.
"He enjoyed the animal tracks and the trout," Williams said. "Anything where something happens, that's hands-on."
Charles Brunner, assistant professor in wood science and engineering at Oregon State University, was monitoring the activities at the Wood Magic booth, where children learned about the different levels of permeability in wood. Red oak, for instance, is so permeable that you can use sticks of it to blow bubbles, as many children were discovering.
"One little girl under a year old was blowing all kinds of bubbles," Brunner said.
For the department of wood science, Kids Day is another way to inform kids and adults about the magic of wood.
"We've been here every year," Brunner said. "We help educate the public about wood and natural resources they use."
Under the cover of one of the fairground outdoor arenas, 8-year-old Sequoia White was diligently hammering nails into the sides of her hand-made songbird house, which was carefully designed with a small entrance so that nuthatches and wrens could fit in, but invasive species like starlings could not. Unfortunately, Sequoia's favorite bird will likely not inhabit the house, since she admitted to a fondness for parrots.
Sequoia was assisted by John Snelling, president of the Marys Peak Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America, an organization focused on wildlife and outdoor activities.
"Now we're going to put in hinge nails," Snelling said, walking her through the process. "That will allow you to clean out the house if you need to."
Sequoia was concentrating hard on building her bird house, and said she had lots of previous carpentry experience.
"This is my fifth time building a bird house," she said, smacking a nail into the side of the red cedar. She had big plans for the house, which may not house parrots, but will provide a much-needed habitat for the area's precious songbird population.
"I'm gonna hang it up on one of our big oak trees."
Saturday, September 17, 2005
Last weekend my husband called me to the front door. "Look at this," he said. There were two magpies on the garden path, and as I came to the door, they advanced confidently, one of them hopping on to the veranda. It looked at me fixedly, turning its head to do so out of one bright eye.
"It did the same thing about three weeks ago,"
I said. I'm sure it's hungry. So I went, as I had done before, and got some raw cats' meat from the fridge and came out again. The first magpie was still waiting on the veranda, and backed up to let me put the lump of meat on the path. They attacked it ravenously.
As we went back in to leave them to their meal, Rick said to me, "I swear it all but spoke to me.
It came up and eyeballed me and said, 'Get that woman who gives us meat'."
The magpies don't come to Northcote every day. The first time they came there had been a storm, and last weekend was windy, so I figure that they ask for food when insects are scarce.
A day without food is a very serious matter for a bird. They have a very high metabolic rate: their hearts beat fast, they use masses of energy to fly, and because they need to be light to fly, they can't store much fat. So they need food often. The Northcote magpies were not tame at all, just rather clever and assertive. How they knew to come to us instead of someone who might flap their arms and yell "Shoo!" is another matter. Maybe they were working the whole street door to door, like telco salesmen.
We talked of it with that certain joy that you get from being trusted by a wild animal. Both of us were aware that we were being anthropomorphic: ascribing human traits to a non-human entity.
We wondered if we were being sentimental dills for ascribing our human kind of dialogue and intentionality to the birds. But it all came so naturally, somehow.
We blithely attribute personal qualities to animals, but then we go ahead and reattribute them to ourselves as totems, aspirations, symbols and love objects.
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Recently, an aviary was also set up in one wing of the massive temple, and named the Kili Koondu Mandapam. While the astrologers in the temple used the birds for fortune-telling, the birds themselves were quite a crowd-puller for their unusual talent of reciting slokas and shrieking out the name of the resident deity. According to priest Chonandaram, who spoke to TOI from the temple complex, "The tradition of keeping parrots has been continuing for the past 100 years. It was painful to see them fly away. But the birds, known for their tremendous energy, who could copy whatever you told them, would be happier now, than living in cages. We have with us only one pair of parrot now, in order to maintain the tradition."
Saturday, August 27, 2005
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
The wee one can be loud. And messy. And bite Vore. And even damage the furniture. It's at times like these the woman may want to send the little rascal to her roost.
A Congo African Grey, Lacey Jo's part of a flock tended by Vore and friend Laurie Florio.
Also included in the feathered family of parrots at the women's home are Moluccan cockatoo, Apollo; Hahn's macaw, Sarah; Quaker Parrot, Peanut; Congo African Grey, Louie; and Timneh African Grey, Sammie.
Aware of their "parrotal" responsibilities, the women urge others to note the care parrots require before adopting one.
"People get them because they're pretty and they make a 'living decoration,'" said Florio of her avian intimates. But, parrots "can't live life in a cage being pretty."
"They need a lot of socialization and stimulation," said Linda McFatridge of the Kokomo Humane Society. Without companionship, she said, such birds can get stressed and will pluck out their feathers.
"Basically, they're not domestic," Vore reminded parrot parent-wannabees. While it's in their nature to roam the skies -- they fly all day long -- foraging for food, "we take them and put them in cages. It's like putting a kid in a cage" Florio said.
Ignored, birds "get bored and stressed and can start mutilating themselves."
"When you take them away from their flock, you have to become their 'flock,'" Vore said.
To help relieve the problem, Vore suggests giving the birds some variety through different kinds of fruits and vegetables.
Their diets must be watched carefully, Vore said, adding calcium deficiencies are especially important if the parrot is a female and laying eggs.
Many African Greys, prone to fatty liver disease, also are susceptible to mites, as are other birds.
Because her feathered charges have delicate respiratory systems, the guardians can't wear perfume.
Vore said chemicals can't be sprayed in the house. As a result, she cleans with vinegar.
The birds require much bathing to take care of their "almost like baby powder" dander.
The taloned "tykes" also relieve themselves often and are generally messy. As such, Vore said, office mats around the house are cleaned daily.
And, "the bigger the beak, the bigger the bite," Vore continued. Not unlike an eager puppy, a parrot may bite if rough-housing becomes too rough.
Fingers and arms aren't the parrots' only targets.
Vore said they chew their entire lives; "cardboard, window moldings, every piece of furniture, anything and everything."
Cockatiels and other small birds can live 15 to 20 years. Some parrots can live to be 100.
Potential owners might want to consider who will get the bird in case of a divorce or human death.
Time with birds rewarding
While birds require a lot of attention, that can be rewarding for the guardian, too.
Casey was one of four cockatiels dropped by the Kokomo Humane Society shelter, said facility employee Vore. Casey found a home there and also caught Vore's attention. She said she also became fond of an African Grey "kind of dumped" on a friend.
And that affection has grown.
"They're very social; they consider you part of their flock," she said. "They love chaos and noise."
The birds' demands for attention also can make them pleasant companions.
"We talk, we sing," she said, noting she has just to start whistling the tune "Tequila" and they'll whistle and sing along.
Vore claims her charges are far from "bird brains," saying Lacey and others have the ability to put together words and express themselves.
The birds fly throughout the house and are even allowed -- on occasion -- to play outside.
The women love their winged ones. They're quick to overlook and even forgive their charges' errant behavior because "they love to sing ... they're playful, loving; they're like having kids."
Sunday, August 14, 2005
Dr Vijay Kumar, the veterinarian at the Charity Bird Hospital says, ‘‘ Many times, people give us birds they’ve bought from the street because they can’t take care of them. If they are released into the wild, the birds can’t fend for themselves.’’
Things are particularly bad for budgriegars, also called lovebirds, which are originally from Australia.’’
A large cage in the hospital has almost 50 of the tiny birds. The vet says, ‘‘Recently, one man bought 300 lovebirds near Jama Masjid out of pity for them. After that, he didn’t know what to do with them, and we had to work with a number of groups to have them safely released.’’
Buying the birds is a major problem as it encourages them to get more birds.
A spokesperson for the group Wildlife SOS says, ‘‘This is a big problem. People want to help, but don’t know how to.
The bird seller doesn’t care about the birds after they’re sold. As long as he’s making a sale, he will cage more and more birds.’’ Kumar also says, ‘‘For every single live bird sold, at least six or seven die in the capture and handling stage. As long as people buy budgies, for whatever reason, the seller’s business thrives. Birds which are released may die, be eaten by stray animals, or even get caught again. And the sellers will be the only beneficiaries.’’
If people want to help, he said, then they should try and stop the sale of birds.
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
BY CHERYL MILLER
Another possibility would be for groups of bird lovers to collectively donate money for housing
Saturday, August 06, 2005
Logging has devastated more than half of an endangered native bird's protected nesting colony, because of a bureaucratic bungle by the Department of Sustainability and Environment.
The blunder was discovered when a botanist alerted the department, triggering an audit that ended the logging.
As few as 150 superb parrots still breed in Victoria, in a handful of nesting colonies around the Barmah State Forest near Echuca.
A century ago superb parrots could be seen as far south as Plenty, but are now mostly found in NSW, where about 6000 survive.
To stop the birds' numbers dwindling any further, nesting trees are supposed to be protected from logging by buffer zones of at least 100 metres, and their locations are a tightly guarded secret to keep the birds safe from poachers.
But the department's north-east regional director, Kevin Ritchie said staff forgot to check maps before approving a new logging coupe in March 2003.
"The logging operation intruded into the protection zone for superb parrots, because that (protection zone) hadn't been recorded in the Coupe Information System, and the forestry officer who would normally have known to check the maps was away ill," he said.
As a result, from February to June this year loggers felled almost 6000 tonnes of river red gums in about 60 per cent of one of the largest superb parrot nesting colonies in the forest.
In mid-June, when logging was halted because of wet weather, botanical consultant Doug Frood visited the forest.
"I was stunned, because this was one of the best remaining stands of old growth red gums in Barmah and it had been severely impacted," he said.
When a department staff member investigated Mr Frood's complaint on June 29, he realised that the loggers had been allowed deep into a 35-hectare protected zone.
The parrots are due to arrive in the Barmah forest for their annual four-month breeding season within weeks, during which time all human disturbances are banned.
But when The Age visited the forest this week, a clean-up of the area appeared to have hardly begun.
At least five large logpiles were scattered through the woods and the ground was covered with sawn debris, including dried-out tree canopies the size of tennis courts, and 15-metre trees lying next to their stumps.
Yorta Yorta Aboriginal Corporation chairman Lee Joachim was particularly upset by the number of old growth trees left to rot on the ground.
"Most of these have got no timber value at all. They'll be lucky to be used for firewood or woodchips," he said.
Mr Ritchie admitted the area could become a fire hazard if not cleared out before the parrots arrive. He hopes the work will be done this month.
The department is hiring a superb parrot specialist to investigate and will overhaul its logging approvals process.
Logging will soon resume in the area, after the State Government this week closed tenders for another 4000 tonnes of river red gums to be cut in the Barmah State Forest, along with 3000 tonnes from the nearby Gunbower Island State Forest.
That worries some local environmentalists and bird lovers, including Birds Australia's Chris Tzaros: "Superb parrots are one of most elegant and graceful parrots we'd have in this country … the more we keep chipping away at the edges of where they can live, the closer they get to extinction."
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
An exotic population of parrots and parakeets native to South America and parts of Mexico is living wild and free in the San Fernando Valley, apparently escapees from captivity -- or their descendants -- that have learned to feed off trees and plants in back yards and parks.
"Most bird-watchers are aware they're here so they expect to see them," said Kimball Garrett, ornithology collections manager at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.
"But the general public -- well, a lot of them are coming to realize that just like palm trees and everything else, it's just part of the artificial landscape of this area."
One oft-repeated speculation is that some of the Valley's parrots and parakeets stem from Busch Gardens, the Anheuser-Busch amusement park that treated visitors to the Van Nuys brewery to boat rides and exotic bird shows from the 1960s to the 1980s.
An Anheuser-Busch spokesman said the story is untrue. Escaped tropical birds are found elsewhere in the United States, he said.
"It is an urban legend. There may well be parakeets in the San Fernando Valley but they're not the descendants of Busch Gardens birds," said Fred Jacobs, spokesman for the Anheuser-Busch theme park division.
The red-crowned parrot, the only parrot or parakeet that has been added to the official list of avian species that live in California, is the most numerous tropical bird in the Valley.
Red-crowned parrots could number from about 70 into the low hundreds, Garrett said. Predominantly green with a red patch on the head, the birds grow to about 12 to 13 inches and live in Pacoima, Sylmar and Van Nuys.
Garrett is studying the yellow-chevroned parakeet and is trying to take a count. They grow to about 8 inches and are lime-green with a yellow patch on each wing. They live in the Sepulveda Basin and neighborhoods east of that, including Studio City and Glendale.
The yellow-chevroned parakeets, which make squeaking chirps, have been seen in groups of up to 50 in the Sepulveda Basin.
"When they turn, they all turn the same way, and you'll see a burst of green suddenly flashing yellow," said bird-watcher Louise Epps, a clinical psychologist who is second vice president in the San Fernando Valley Audubon Society.
Another newcomer species is the blue-crowned parakeet, which was estimated a few years ago to number 25 birds around Northridge, Garrett said.
Blue-crowned parakeets used to descend six or eight at a time on the coral tree in her neighbor's back yard, said Carolyn Oppenheimer, former president of the San Fernando Valley Audubon Society.
"Oh, they sounded screechy. They were loud and screechy," said Oppenheimer, a retired teacher.
The parrots and parakeets eat seeds and nectar from trees such as the eucalyptus and the silk floss, as well as figs, berries and apricots found in back yards.
Exotic birds are more commonly found in older neighborhoods with well-developed trees, but experts are not exactly sure why they concentrate in certain areas.
The San Gabriel Valley has more tropical birds than the San Fernando Valley, but the birds have been seen in both areas for decades.
"A lot of the populations seem to be growing," Garrett said. "We're not exactly sure why, other than the urban habitats keep expanding."
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
Since vocal labeling indicates that the namer must first be able to imagine the individual or object in its mind, the discovery likely means bird thoughts and communication are far more complex and closer to human levels than previously realized.
The namers in this case are spectacled parrotlets, Forpus conspicillatus, which are small bright green or blue South American parrots.
"We have shown that they use specific calls that only refer to the individual in question," said Ralf Wanker, lead author of the study. "To my knowledge it is the first time that labeling or naming is described for animals in this way."
He added that other studies suggest bottlenose dolphins and another bird, budgerigars, match their calls to others, similar to how humans often copy the tone or volume of the person they are speaking with, as for baby talk.
Wanker and his team housed two groups of the birds in a simulated natural environment. The researchers noted social ranks within identified bird families.
They then made audio recordings of 17 individuals from five different families. The recordings captured birds vocalizing with other specific birds.
Computer analysis of the sounds revealed that initial contact calls were unique for each parrotlet and indicative of the individual's social standing.
For example, when one bird, Eddi, communicated with his mate, Renee, he used a specific call. Eddi also used specific, yet similar, calls when addressing each of his offspring, Uvo and Ustinov.
The researchers also found that when the sounds were played back to the birds, the parrotlets paid greater attention when their apparent name was called out, similar to how a human might turn around if someone in the room called out his or her name.
The findings are published in this month's Animal Behavior.
Wanker, a Hamburg University ornithologist, told Discovery News that no one can yet fully decipher the birdcalls or determine what the parrotlets are pondering, but the findings provide some clues.
"I think they have a mental representation of at least their family members because they use only one call type for one specific individual," he explained.
"They do not use this call type for other individuals, thus they must be able to make a mental connection between the individual and the certain call."
Claudia Moudry, an expert on parrots and owner of the Berkeley, Calif., pet store Your Basic Bird, told Discovery News that she was not at all surprised by the findings.
"I know of one African gray parrot whose owner also has three cats," she said. "Whenever a cat comes near the parrot, the bird will call the cat by its correct name."
Moudry also said one of her female parrots, an 18 year-old, had never seen another bird of its own species. She obtained a male parrot of the same species and put him downstairs.
"I don't know what they were saying, but they communicated a lot without even seeing each other or being on the same floor," she said.
"Whatever the male said, it must have excited the female. Her hormones kicked in and, for the first time, she laid an egg."
Sunday, July 03, 2005
The nonprofit parrot sanctuary that cares and helps abandoned birds find homes is getting ready to move to 35 acres in Elbert County, southeast of Denver. The foundation, headed by parrot-lover Julie Murad, was cited for land-use violations at its property in Eagle County last year. Neighbors in Emma complained of noise from the foundation's birds.
Murad's 13-acre ranch is Emma is listed for $2.35 million, and building plans for a new facility on the Front Range are about a week from approval.
The organization closed on the property in Elbert County this spring, paying $1.25 million for the ranch with plans to build three separate buildings, a total of 12,000 square feet to house the parrots and provide for office space, a caretaker unit and a meeting room for potential parrot adopters.
The buildings will be connected by outdoor cages where the birds get exercise. The entire facility will be four times the size of the current one in Eagle County.
As soon as Murad gets approval from the building department next week, Burlstone Construction will begin the project. Birds will start the moving process - in cages, not on the wing - as soon as possible.
"We'll be moving them out to carriers and then transporting the cages down there," said Murad, who has already bought a house and moved to the town of Elizabeth.
The foundation is housing 135 birds both in its Eagle County location and in foster homes. The new facility will be able to maintain 250 birds in its first year, and then 350 in the future. Murad said Elbert County commissioners would have to approve additional parrots.
But caring for that many birds would also require more staff to maintain a certain human-to-bird-ratio.
The Gabriel Foundation will be launching a capital campaign to help with construction costs, she said. The new location is complete with rolling hills that should buffer the squawking sounds, she said.
The new 35-acre ranch was originally part of a large ranch that was subdivided into smaller parcels. Neighbors in the area use their parcels as ranches with horses and barns, and a large dog kennel is nearby.
Naomi Havlen's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, June 24, 2005
It's part of a seasonal cycle where animals migrate north to escape the cold and to feast on the flowers, fruit and insects and other food supplies that are still plentiful in the warmer climate.
Here at the Tenterfield Office, Rangers have been taking part in a national bird survey that occurs around this time each year. The survey is conducted to record the presence and movement of the swift parrot, an endangered bird species found only in South East Australia. Swift parrots or 'Swiftys' as they are affectionately known are the longest migrating parrots in the world, leaving their breeding ground in Tasmania during autumn to ‘winter' on mainland Australia and returning in the spring.
Named for their swift flight, swiftys are very colourful little parrots with a passion for Eucalypt blossoms. Similar in appearance to lorikeets, swiftys are deep emerald green with scarlet under the tail and wing and crimson on the forehead and throat.
The sporadic and seemingly unpredictable movement of this parrot means that a large number of people are needed to keep track of its distribution and to collect information on the bird's habitat requirements.
Volunteer bird observers, amateurs and ornithologists alike, from Eastern South Australia to Southern Queensland, armed with binoculars take to the bush to seek out these elusive birds. Observers also collect useful information on other bird species that they see during the survey.
In this way, scientists can build a picture of the behaviour, movement and habitat requirements of these magnificent little parrots.
When the weather warms, the Swift Parrots, just like the grey nomads will return to their original haunts.
Another survey will be conducted on the first weekend in August and anyone is welcome to join in. So get your bird identification books ready, get out into the bush and report any sightings of this little parrot to your local National Parks Office.
Monday, June 20, 2005
One way to add some good food into your bird’s diet is to sprout some seeds. Just soaking the seeds over night (after a thorough rinsing) will plump them up so they are more like fresh seeds, instead of dried. After soaking them for approximately 8 hours, give them a thorough rinse and drain them. Put them in your feeder and watch your bird enjoy a very nutritious food.
You may also rinse and drain them and spread them in a container that you put in a dark spot (just don’t forget about them). You will have to rinse and drain them several times throughout the day; the more times you rinse and drain them, the more quickly they will sprout. Many seeds will have tiny tails starting to emerge by the next day and will be at the optimum in nutrition. Rinse and drain once more and feed them to your bird. By starting a new batch each day, you will have a continuous supply of fresh nutritious food for your bird. If you make more than what your bird will eat in one day, you can refrigerate leftovers for a few days – rinsing and draining each day.
You shouldn’t have any problem with your bird refusing to eat these sprouts.
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
What would you do when you’d want to lie down and dream? When your feet want to run? Or when your eyes alight on a blushing flower, a twinkling star, maybe a future lover that your arms can’t quite reach? With very real limits to mobility weighing you down, the frustration would be enough to make you tear out your hair, render you a bird-brained basket case.
Kado was made to live in a cage for seventeen years. Denied his dreams of flight and freedom, he passed his days plucking out his feathers as fast as they grew. For variety, he would go at it with a vengeance, sometimes breaking skin with the violent force he employed. It’s tragic how self-mutilation became the only choice Kado had for stimulation.
Kado was lucky he got to Dr. Roberto “Bo” Puentespina before the end of his days. When he arrived in Malagos Garden last August, Kado was completely bald. Today, he is the picture of good health, his iridescent feathers gleaming green, intelligent eyes flashing with the lambent sheen of avian dreams that seventeen years of neglect have not been able to dim.
“He was a psychiatric parrot,” claims Dr. Bo, Malagos Garden’s resident veterinarian, his gaze coming to rest gently on the quiet bird who has since stopped doing the avian version of tearing out one’s hair, thanks to the intensive efforts at rehabilitation in the last nine months.
Kado looks like he now dreams good dreams. It is hard to imagine that this parrot lived through desolate times. Lord knows it could have gone on longer, as parrots are reputed to be among the longer living birds.
Parrots belong among cage birds that people keep for pets, valued for their colorful plumage and the novelty of their vocal imitation. But just because Kado is cage bird is not an excuse to put him in one and forget about his needs. Parrots are known to respond to the affection and company of humans, and some humans – the proverbial pirate, for instance - actually prefer parrots to wives.
“If only people are more responsible pet owners,” muses Dr. Bo. “If only they come to understand the little needs of these animals.”
Then Kado and his ilk won’t suffer at the hands of men. Peaceful coexistence.
For now, Kado is the before-and-after story that helps Dr. Bo bring his message to the people who come to watch the bird show. A regular crowd-drawer, the show educates the audience on bird behavior, habitat requirements, diversity, and options for man-bird interactions.
Last year, the bird show started to go on tour. In September this year, the bird show is scheduled to start a three-month stint at the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife in Quezon City. It is a “Mindanao to the world” opportunity to bring Dr. Bo’s message within reach of a wider audience.
And about time, too. Consider that insofar as endemism is concerned, the Philippines has 185 species of true blue Pinoys in these birds. I don’t really know how experts define the term “threatened species” these days, but the 2004 biodiversity situationer provided in Agham Mindanao vol 2 ranks the country as the fourth endemic-rich hotspot for birds, with 56 of these irreplaceable species now losing its habitat to pollution, destruction, and incursion.
The Malagos Garden Bird Show gives a tantalizing glimpse of the diversity of birds that can survive in Mindanao, some coming from as far as Africa and the Amazon jungles in South America. They come in all sizes and shapes, in various hues and plumage, some flightless while others so – pardon the trite expression, but it applies – awesome in flight. Meat-eating, snake-eating, fish-eating, fruit-eating, seed-eating – all of them prove that food is a primary reinforcer, which is why Dr. Bo mounts his show at mid-morning and mid-afternoon at feeding time.
I shared with Dr. Bo my appreciation to observe his methods for psychiatric rehabilitation. He, in turn, got excited at the mention that I touch on the principles of animal conditioning when I teach Learning Theories and Cognitive Psychology, and that I’ll definitely be scheduling a field trip to his bird show with my students next time. He volunteers to bring his bird show to the campus where more students could actually watch those principles at work.
Wow. Talk about driven.
Men on a mission are like that. I could hardly fault Dr. Bo for his zeal. Where the birds in the Philippines are concerned, time is a luxury. We have to convey to the next generation this desire to protect them. I hope some of the kids who watched the show came away wanting to be veterinarians, game foresters, and ecologists.
And as for Kado, he is a living example that some psychiatric cases don’t have to stay caged. Evidently, all he needed was a little help from someone who really understands. The way he’s progressing, who knows he might eventually end up in the Philippine Senate.
(Wayward and Fanciful is Gail Ilagan's column for MindaViews, the opinion section of MindaNews. Ilagan teaches Social Justice, Family Sociology, Theories of Socialization and Psychology at the Ateneo de Davao University where she is also the associate editor of Tambara. You may send comments to email@example.com. "Send at the risk of a reply," she says).
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
That's the unusual opportunity awaiting visitors to Woodland Park Zoo's new exhibit of Australian birds.
The avian caterwaul is so intense, some zoo employees wear earplugs inside the new Willawong Station exhibit.
Zoo supervisor Tina Mollett says the birds are thriving in their new environment.
"They're getting used to the people," she says. "We've been working with them for several months, and they're adjusting really well."
So well, in fact, that Mollett has those 200 Australian parrots, budgies, cockatoos and rosellas literally eating out of your hand.
"This is one situation in the zoo where we are saying 'please feed the animals.' "
For a dollar, adults and kids are issued a stick full of sticky birdseed and the birds aren't shy about flying down to dine.
"It's not your everyday kind of feeling," enthuses one zoo visitor as a budgie accepts her offering.
"It's cheaper than flying to Australia," she adds.
Or should that be "cheeper?"
The birds will be receiving visitors at the semi-permanent exhibit until further notice.
Monday, May 23, 2005
In the wild, our pet birds would be eating both fresh and dried seeds, grasses, leaves, various fruits, vegetables and berries, insects and grubs.
If you have the time and are capable of duplicating the nutrients in this diet at home, your birds will be just fine.
If, however, you do not have the time or are not capable of duplicating the nutrients in this diet at home, you should consider converting your bird to a pellet/vegetable/fruit diet.
Pet birds that have been hand fed by the breeder are fed a pellet based handfeeding formula and are usually weaned onto a pellet diet supplemented by fruits and vegetables. If you obtain your pet bird directly from the breeder and continue this diet, your bird will be eating a healthy diet, although there is certainly more that you can add.
Many of the smaller birds, such as Budgies and Cockatiels are not hand fed and are raised on a seed diet. Unfortunately, these birds seldom have their diet supplemented by fruits or vegetables as they are often obtained from a breeder who produces the birds in huge numbers. These are the birds that you are likely to find in a pet store.
It is important to get fruits, vegetables and pellets part of your bird’s diet as soon as possible, but a bird that has never eaten these foods does not realize that they are food.
There are several mixes you can buy to cook a nutritious meal for your bird as well.
You do not have to remove dry seeds from your bird’s diet completely. The seeds can still be mixed in with the pellets or used as a treat or just kept in a separate dish, but hopefully once he is used to eating more nutritional foods, will not be a major part of his diet.
Friday, May 20, 2005
The Regent Honeyeater has yellow tail and wing feathers spattered with black and a specvkled black to white yellow breast and some yellow around the eye.
The survey goes along the NSW coast as well as the State's western slopes from Queensland to the Victorian border.
It has been timed to coincide with the autumn migration to the mainland following summer breeding in Tasmania.
National coordinator, Debbie Saunders, said the survey aims to monitor the populations and habitats of the birds.
"Over the past decade the total population of the Swift Parrot has plummeted by some 30% to around 2,500 individual birds," she said.
"This is a frighteningly big drop over such a short period of time. The main reasons for their decline appears to be loss of the bird's breeding habitat in Tasmania and foraging habitat on the mainland.
"The biology and requirements of the Swift Parrot are reasonably well understood for Tasmania, but much less so on the mainland. These surveys will help us to develop a better picture of what kinds of habitat are important for the long-term survival of these species and enable more focused conservation efforts in these areas.
The nationwide survey runs again on the weekend of August 6-7 but any additional records are always welcome.
People who are interested in becoming involved in these bi-annual bird surveys as a volunteer or who have property with suitable habitat containing winter flowering tree species, are invited to contact Debbie Saunders (Swift Parrot recovery coordinator) on 02 6298 9733 or David Geering (Regent Honeyeater recovery coordinator) on 02 6883 5335.
Sunday, May 15, 2005
In the United States, these birds are often called Parakeets or keets, but since they are just one of several different Parakeets, they are more properly called Budgies which is short for Budgerigars.
Budgies still live in the wild, in Australia where they originate. There are not as many as there once were, but unfortunately this is true for every wild animal and bird.
In the wild, these birds come in one colour and that is the normal green and yellow, with black markings.
Budgies fly in large flocks and are nomadic (meaning they only stay in one place for a short time before moving to another). Normally, they will move when looking for a new food or water supply.
When conditions are ideal (plenty of food and water), Budgies will look for nesting spots and raise a clutch or two of babies. They do not build nests, preferring a cavity or hollow in a tree. The rest of the flock will also choose their nesting spots in the same area, which means many babies will hatch at approximately the same time.
A successful nesting spot will have enough food and water for the whole flock to feed and raise all their babies. This requires a lot of food and water, and sometimes only the earliest pairs to start breeding are the only ones that will be successful.
Budgies will eat grasses and grass seeds (both dry and fresh), some eucalyptus leaves, some insects and larvae, and berries and this is what they feed the babies.
When the babies fledge (leave the nest), they will look very much like their parents, except that they have thin black lines across their heads, right down to the cere and their eyes are a solid black. As they mature, the lines will disappear and they will develop a white circle around the eyes.
Predators of the wild Budgie are snakes and hawks. Extreme drought conditions are also responsible for many deaths.
From Bella Online
Sunday, May 08, 2005
Visitors to John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids will be able to get up close and personal with some creatures from the "Land Down Under."
The zoo has opened two new exhibits for this summer featuring creatures from Australia.
One is a walk-through exhibit featuring budgies - small colorful birds that will interact with the visitors, who can feed them up close if they purchase a seed stick.
The other new attraction is the Wallaby Yard in which visitors will be able to walk with the creatures and get an up close look at them.
WELCOME to Parrot Pre-school – where frustrated "parents" are being taught how to control their flighty birds.
After more than a decade's experience as a pet owner and parrot consultant to various zoos, Verna Shannan, 56, established her Birdbrains service at Hope Island on the Gold Coast.
"Parrots are becoming more and more popular to buy as pets. But we're finding more people are trying to get rid of their birds," said Ms Shannan.
"They can't cope. They're living in apartments, they buy a bird and they think it will be easy.
"Parrots are very complex. They have the intelligence of a three to five-year-old."
Owners of the worst parrots have landed on Ms Shannon's doorstep with horror stories.
"I once did a pre-school for a major mitchell. This bird was eating electrical wire. It got a shock one day and was blown across the room," she said.
"But the worst thing I've seen is when they start destroying themselves. They can eat their own flesh. It's sheer frustration. I had a sulphur-crested that did that."
Ms Shannan trains owners for their biggest test – to ignore their bird calling for them. She advises them to warn the neighbours of a few difficult days ahead and, once the bird is quiet, to reward it with food.
Anne Foster, from Labrador, who has owned 35-year-old corella Barbara for a year, said the classes had helped improve their relationship.
"We think Barbara was previously with an older lady. She sings a long version of Goodnight Sweetheart before we go to bed – I found it's a war song which came out in 1939," Mrs Foster said.
"The classes are teaching us how to feed and handle her."
Trevor Harris, from Hope Island, said Wally, his four-year-old tropical parrot, had been bored and started to pull his feathers out.
"He's changed almost overnight since the classes. We're keeping his food out of his cage, finding him things to do," said Mr Harris.
Ms Shannan urges people to buy cockatiels and budgerigars, which are smaller and easier to handle.
She recalls being called to "board" an imported parrot, worth more than $10,000, which began screaming one hour after it arrived at the owner's luxury Coast home.
"Most parrots are monogamous. Budgies are tarts. They will go with everybody. They don't get hung up on one person," she said.
Saturday, May 07, 2005
Nesting or not? Barry Hobbs is keeping a close eye on some birds that have been visiting his property. He photographed the birds and wrote a week ago, "We spotted a pair of these white-throated sparrows in our back yard in South Salem, and it appears that they are nesting in the yard next door. Our bird books all agree that they are out of their range and shouldn't be in this area." John Lundsten of the Salem Audubon Society confirmed that the birds are white-throated sparrows but is curious about the nesting behavior. "As far as I know, nesting has never been confirmed in Oregon," he said. Hobbs replied: "We will keep an eye on them and see if we can spot a nest or maybe wait for fledglings."
Willamette Valley: A red-naped sapsucker is being seen in Corvallis. A cattle egret is at a large pond near Alvadore, where a brant was seen in a flock of geese. Six black-necked stilts were at Fern Ridge Reservoir. A calliope hummingbird was at a feeder in Brownsville.
Olympic Peninsula: The hunt is on for 20 or more monk parrots, a non-native bird that has created a flutter in Kitsap County, on the east side of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. The Port Orchard City Council has ruled that a company can upgrade a cell phone tower only on the condition that the lime-green monk parrots that are nesting on it are safely captured. That was the recommendation of Jeff Davis, a state wildlife biologist who advised the council that the neotropical birds, native to South America, can mean trouble. "Parrots have been known to spread diseases and can have a long-term ecological impact to native wildlife," he told the council. They can, however, be confined and make fine pets.
Whale watch: Gray whales are being seen in Hood Canal in the south end of Puget Sound, but biologists say the best place on the Washington Coast to see them is at La Push, where calves and their mothers often swim close to the shoreline. La Push is near the northwest corner of Washington. A pod of a half-dozen transient killer whales is attracting attention in Hood Canal, where they've been dubbed "The Slippery Six" by locals. The orcas have been seen around the canal since Jan. 24. Gov. Christine Gregoire has approved legislation designating the orca Washington's official marine mammal.
Oregon Coast: A horned puffin and a Manx-type shearwater were seen flying past Boiler Bay. A bird believed to be a black tern was at Lincoln City. A common redpoll visited a feeder at Bay City. Two scrub jays were at Nehalem. A flock of 20 marbled godwits were at the south jetty of the Columbia River.
Columbia corridor: A black-necked stilt was seen at the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, on the Washington side of the Columbia River. Two red-breasted mergansers were near the mouth of the Sandy River. Two redheads and four white-throated sparrows were at the Vanport Wetlands in North Portland. A calliope hummingbird was at a Southeast Portland feeder.
Southern Oregon: A Sabine's gull stopped at the Kirtland Road sewage ponds in White City, near Medford.
Central Oregon: A black phoebe is being seen in Bend.
Southeast Oregon: A black phoebe was at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge all last week.
Central Washington: Spring maintenance on the Tieton River Nature Trail, at Oak Creek Wildlife Area near Yakima, Wash., is complete after fallen trees and rock slides were removed. "This trail provides plenty of opportunities for viewing deer, elk, birds, even lizards and rattlesnakes," said Bruce Berry, assistant manager of the wildlife area. The trail can be accessed by crossing the walk bridge adjacent the Oak Creek headquarters off Highway 12, then the trail winds upstream following the Tieton River for nearly five miles. Oak Creek headquarters requires a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife day-use vehicle permit. "You may even be lucky enough to spot our resident golden eagle pair, which are incubating eggs in their nest now," Berry said. Hikers share the trail with mountain bikers and rock climbers, and pets must be kept on leash. It is a favorite trail of Yakima-area birders.
Environmental scientist Peta Standley is working with traditional land owners who are being allowed to use burning regimes on the Cape, in far north Queensland, for the first time in decades.
The Kuku Thaypan Knowledge Project allows burning in Lakefield National Park.
Ms Standley says the project could help with weed control and biodiversity and bird population declines.
"So the whole idea is we're hoping that once these regimes start to be re-implemented that we will start to see changes in bringing back species that are sort of in decline like cockatoo grass and golden shoulder parrots and other fauna," she said.
Monday, May 02, 2005
Pet birds can enrich their owner's lives in a variety of ways but, as with any potential pet purchase, it is not something that should be done on an impulse or a whim.
It is important to do some research and make careful considerations to ensure that the bird you choose will best suit your lifestyle and pocketbook.
Determining how much you can afford is a logical first step toward the purchase of a pet bird. Monthly expenses of owning a feathered friend can range anywhere from $40 to $90 per month. This does not include the initial cage purchase or the yearly veterinary, emergency care or boarding costs while you're on vacation.
There also is the purchase price of the bird. Birds can range anywhere from just under $20 for a small finch to several thousand dollars for a large parrot.
Typically, the more exotic and the larger the bird, the more it will cost to purchase, cage, feed and care for.
Potential pet owners shouldn't be tempted to take advantage of bargain-priced birds from unreputable pet dealers, though.
These birds frequently come with baggage — such as health problems and mental disorders — that can be difficult, long-term problems to correct, if they're correctable at all.
Healthy, hand-raised birds are well worth the initial price in the long run.
Another important consideration is to determine if there is enough time in your daily schedule to give a pet bird the care and attention it will need.
Some birds are very social creatures, requiring lots of daily contact and interaction when their owners are home and lots of toys and cage furniture to keep their minds occupied when their owners are away.
Not committing daily time to fulfill the interaction needs of the more social species can result in a variety of neurotic behaviors.
Also, unlike dogs and cats that are considered long lived if they make it to the high teens, birds — particularly parrots — can live more than 30 years, some even making it to well over 50 years of age.
Some of these birds bond closely with only one person or one family. If given up or sold, the transition to a new home can be a difficult, stressful adaptation for them, to say the least.
Pet birds can require a lot of space. Small species like canaries and finches need lots of room because they get most of their exercise within the cage, while larger birds require even more space.
Parrots, cockatoos and other large species may spend lots of time outside their enclosure, yet they still need room to move, play and exercise within their cage when their owner is not at home. For these big guys, an area of 3 feet wide by 3 feet deep by 3 feet tall, should be the minimum cage size used.
Birds can be noisy. The volume and frequency of noise can vary from species to species, so it is important to learn about the behavioral characteristics of different species before making a purchase.
Finches, doves and canaries, although not completely silent, tend to softly chirp and chatter, compared to budgies, cockatiels and many of the parrot species, which are known to screech, click and whistle loudly.
Some species also are accomplished noise makers and talkers. African grays can commonly recite multiple lines to songs, plays and prayers.
Other birds, like mynas, can mimic an impressive array of environmental sounds — including a car starting, a squeaky drawer opening, a microwave running, a phone ringing and even the sounds of other birds.
Some species of birds can be little mess makers. Most of the mess comes from their eating habits, since they scatter debris outside the cage in their seed- and nut-shelling pursuits.
To maintain a hygienic atmosphere birds should have their cage's paper changed daily and their entire cage scrubbed and disinfected weekly.
Pigeons, doves and a few other species also produce lots of feather dust — a fine white powder produced by special feathers — that can be very noticeable on dark furniture or clothing.
Parrots typically enjoy being destructive. They like to rip and shred phone books, paper towel rolls and anything else they can get their beaks on while in the cage.
Outside the cage they are equally fond of chewing. Electrical cords and furniture are not off their menu, so precautions should be taken to parrot-proof the home environment.
Birds are very popular pets, and for good reason. They have many positive attributes. However, the decision to add a pet bird to the home is not one that should be taken lightly.
Purchasing a pet bird, like purchasing any pet, should be done with the commitment of caring for that animal, daily and for the duration of its life.
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
I often give my budgies "special treats". I serve a plenty of millets, nuts,
dried herbs, fresh tender green...etc on a shreddable basket.
No need to tell that it always make them crazy, and they jump into the
treat basket and enjoy themselves. An enrichment idea, isn't it?
Saturday, April 16, 2005
In recent preparations for the exhibit, volunteers were "socializing" with some 250 budgies, cockatiels and rosellas, helping accustom them to dealing with humans of all kinds, from fast-moving children to deep-voiced men. Yellow, green and sky-blue feathers whirred in the air, the chatty birds cheeped and nibbled and observed, and the humans chatted back and watched their progress.
"We're hoping to make a personal connection (with zoo visitors) at this level," said collections manager Tina Mullett. The goal is for people who are attracted by the fun of feeding the birds to progress to a broader appreciation of how to care for pet birds and how to preserve endangered birds in the wild. The breeds in the exhibit are not endangered species, the zoo staff notes, although some kinds of Australian parrots are indeed at risk.
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
My budgie is eating the soil from one of my plants and I am wondering if there is a gravel I could put down for him to eat (I assume he is trying to get grit for his gullet).
First question is what do you feed budgie? Is it only seed?
Possibly looking for calcium, cuttlefish is a good scource. It is also strongly recomended to feed pellets.
Sunday, April 03, 2005
Birds have a similar basic plan to their nervous system as the rest of the vertebrates.
The brain of a bird weighs about 10 times as much as a brain of a reptile of the same weight, but slightly less than that of a mammal of the same weight. However, there is considerable variation between birds of similar size. There is therefore quite a range in the intelligence of birds, with game birds at the bottom of the list and Woodpeckers, Owls and Parrots at the top.
A bird's brain is different to a mammalian brain in that the complex folds found in the cerebral cortex of mammals are missing and the cerebral cortex itself is much smaller proportionally than in mammals. Instead the corpora striata, a more basic part of the cerebral hemispheres is proportionally larger and better developed. It is this portion of a bird's brain which is used to control instinctive behaviour - feeding, flying, reproduction etc. The mid-brain is also well developed as this is the part of the brain primarily concerned with sight, while the olfactory lobes are reduced as would be expected given that bird's in general have little use of the sense of smell.
Thursday, March 31, 2005
Pepperberg described an experiment where the parrots refused to retrieve a nut that was hanging from a string. One of the birds, Alex, who knows over 1,000 words and can form simple sentences, repeatedly asked the trainer to get the nut for him.
He and the other birds became agitated when their requests were ignored. Pepperberg said that this ability to manipulate others using language previously was only thought to be a human trait.
Could be much more in selecting 'correct' food for our birds. They know what they want!
Saturday, March 26, 2005
Sunday, March 20, 2005
I have two budgies (Bridgeen and Bruce) which I got from friends, they were keeping them outside in the cold , one of them had mites and we took them to a vet and eventually we fixed it.
My problem: I would love to have some kind of bond with them.
Practically they are scared of everything, me, my children, my dogs.
I keep them on the top shelf in the sunroom - 'room with the view' - once a month we let them, (by force), out of the cage for a little "stretching of the wings" time but it takes me ages to catch them under the thin towel so the don't get hurt.
It would be great if they come when I call them.
I am talking to them constantly and try to offer them food on my hand but they would rather hurt themselves then sit on my finger.
I don't know how old they are.
Please if you have some tips to help I would greatly appreciate it.
Budgies are like people, treat them lovingly and kindly and they will show affection. Mistreat them, leave them in the cold, feed them irregularly, neglect their health and they will become sick, frightened and very nervous.
If mistreated from a very young age they don't know what correct treatment is and they are very wary of anything.
Your children can be affectionate towards them but your budgies are nervous of noise. Likewise with dogs.
Letting them out of the cage is a good idea however I wouldn't forcebly take them out. If you could leave the door of the cage open, they could fly out only if they want to. It could take a long time for them to become comfortable with human contact again.
Feeding them enthusiasticaly will gain respect. When you feed them try saying something like "Hello Bruce & Bridgeen we have some lovely food for you". They will know that you are looking after them and they will fly across to their feed bowl knowing that it is something they like.
Any Other Comments Please
Bruce & Bridgeen
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
I love to see budgies enjoying free flight. Maybe that is the most happiest
moment for birds in captivity.
Some of my parrot friends including me are competing to take the most
beautiful and fantastic photo of flying budgies. I usually make only one success
of 7-8 shots since it needs skill. The key to success is to focus on budgies
when they seem to feel like flying, and trip the shutter at the very moment
they are about to take off. However, the most difficult thing is to know
when they feel like flying...
Monday, March 14, 2005
We have been fortunate to have a Magpie family accept our home as part of theirs.
In early spring we had a corralling from a young member of the family wanting attention, more importantly, wanting food. Mum & Dad looked on.
After persistant corralling he got his way and we fed him some bread. After that he came in the morning to start with, then up to 3 times a day corralling for his food.
I can see him laughing to his parents, this is easy, why go and look for it these people will feed me.
After a short time Dad joined in and really started to enjoy the attention. Mum is very timid and holds back to make sure everthing is 'safe'.
After about 8 or 9 weeks 'junior' was sent on his way, to make a family for himself and develop a home too.
We now have Mum & Dad calling on us still 2 to 3 times a day. Occassionaly they get fed some meat, Magpies are carnivouris, and they really make a strong song. When it doesn't appear on the next menu they get very objectionable.
We like our Maggies they give such a welcome song.