In the upcoming Willawong Station exhibit opening May 28, visitors will walk into an aviary of colorful, small Australian parrots. Visitors will enter with sticks of millet seeds to feed the birds, which are expected to land and eat from their hands.
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.