Sunday, November 22, 2009

Drop in endangered bird numbers sparks worries

Concerns have been raised about a dramatic decrease in endangered bird numbers in Tasmania.

Experts say drought, wildfires and the spread of urban development have contributed to the decline in numbers of the 40-spotted pardelote and the swift parrot.

Conservationist, Sally Bryant, says pardelote, or 40-spot, numbers in the state have dropped significantly over the last decade.

"In areas like Dennes Hill on Bruny Island, where I can remember going down and being flooded by the sound of 40-spots, it's now very quiet, even though the bird is far more easily identifiable there than in some of the small colonies.

"My first reaction and certainly what the statistics are showing is that the numbers are very low," Ms Bryant said.

Conservationists want the Tasmanian Government to save the habitats of endangered bird species on Bruny Island.

Peter McGlone from the Conservation Trust says logging of the parrot's habitat should be stopped now, instead of waiting for the completion of industry codes of practice, which are being drafted.

"We know that an area on Bruny Island has been logged just in recent months that has swift parrot habitat in it," he said.

"There are other areas in the south of the state that may well be being logged right now, and [the Primary Industries Minister] David Llewellyn needs to be proactive and make sure those logging operaitons stop."

Forestry Tasmania has rejected claims it is rushing to log endangered species habitats before the new guidelines come into force.

The Forest Practices Authority has been working with major logging companies, including Forestry Tasmania, to draft guidelines to protect important wildlife habitats.

Forestry Tasmania's Hans Drielsma denies his company is rushing to cut down trees before the draft is approved.

"There's absolutely no basis to any suggestions like that," said Dr Drielsma.

He says harvesting has been stopped in areas where birds are breeding.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Budgies Flock to Outback Town

Read about budgies in Boulia Queensland, how they flocked to the town.
Listen to the audio to get a wonderful description.
Watch the slide-show to witness the amazing flocks.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Watch for signs of obesity in pet bird

Is your parrot fat? Life with little activity while in a cage with an all-you-can-eat buffet has many birds overweight and struggling with health problems.

Poor food choices - too many seeds, processed or otherwise fatty foods - also pack the pounds on.

Amazon parrots, large cockatoos, cockatiels and budgies seem more prone to obesity than other species of pet birds. Some of the signs of obesity in birds include:

* The presence of rolls of fat around the abdomen and hip areas, along with cleavage on the abdomen or breast area.

* Visible fat under the skin. The skin of most normal pet birds is typically very thin and quite transparent. When the skin is wet with rubbing alcohol, you should be able to see dark pink or red muscle underneath. In overweight birds, you see yellowish fat instead.

* Breathing difficulty, such as laboured breathing, especially after physical exertion.

* Heat intolerance, shown by excessive wing drooping or open-mouthed breathing in a hot environment.

* Overgrown upper beaks. Some birds will grow their upper beaks excessively long if they have obesity and fatty liver disease problems.

This is particularly true in Amazon parrots and budgies.

If you suspect your bird is fat - and especially if you already know your bird is fat - see your veterinarian right away for nutritional counselling and other ways to attack the problem.

Long-term obesity and a poor diet is a major cause of joint problems and heart disease in birds in middle age.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Amazon parrot finds its way home to Gastonia doctor after five-year absence

If her wings carry her away from home again, Eunice may be able to tell helpful humans where she belongs.

“We need to teach them their address,” Jayne Stafford said, grinning as Dr. Barry Scanlan lifted the parrot from her perch. Birds that can mimic human speech could use their gift of gab to find their owners if they fly away, she said.

Scanlan, who returned Eunice to his Gastonia home last week after a five-year absence, agreed.

“You’re going to learn Daddy’s name,” he told Eunice, stroking the bird’s feathered back.

A double-yellow headed Amazon parrot, Eunice flew through an open back door and soared out of sight in 2004. Scanlan scoured the sky for his beloved pet, but Eunice was nowhere to be found.

“We drove all over the neighborhood,” Scanlan said. “It was ridiculous, we drove pretty much a mile-mile and a half in every direction looking for any sign of yellow or green in the trees.”

Amazon parrots aren’t native to North Carolina and are usually killed by predators if they wander into the wild. As months and years passed, Scanlan abandoned hope of finding Eunice.

“I thought she was dead,” he said. “I was just certain.”

Last week, Scanlan’s brother showed him an ad for a found Amazon parrot in The Gaston Gazette’s classifieds. On a lark, he called the number and described his missing bird.

Stafford had been fostering Eunice for several weeks and placed the classified ad to find the 7-year-old parrot’s missing owner. The man who had found the bird and kept it for nearly five years recently died, she explained.

“I knew this was a bird that somebody was looking for,” Stafford said. “I just wanted to make sure she got back in the right hands.”

A bird lover herself, Stafford lost her African grey parrot, Mick, in August 2005. She continues to search for Mick — whose vocabulary includes, “Oh, praise the Lord!”— in newspaper classifieds and on Web sites like

“A lot of people who do find them don’t always know there’s a way to get them back home,” she said.

Breeders of exotic birds typically attach small bands to their legs inscribed with serial numbers. Scanlan provided Stafford with his breeder band number, and she matched it to the band on Eunice’s leg.

“It was the most bizarre thing,” Scanlan said. “The odds against it were astronomical. I asked if I could come over immediately.”

A family practice physician at Riverwood Medical Associates in Gastonia, Scanlan was reunited with Eunice on Tuesday night. The colorful bird is quickly readjusting to her old home.

“It really is a miracle that she’s here,” Scanlan said. “The odds are so against it. There was a divine hand involved there.”

Eunice still speaks the phrases she learned years ago, including “Hey, baby bird” and “Hello, how are you?” Scanlan said double-yellow headed Amazons are the second-best talkers among tropical bird species.

Stafford has an African grey parrot named Joel, and she still hopes to find Mick someday. He couldn’t survive in the wild for four years, but it’s possible that someone found him and is raising him as their pet.

“The thing is, you don’t know where they’ve landed,” Stafford said. “Somebody might have picked him up immediately.”

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Mallee Ringneck parrots nesting

Almost every day we have two or more Mallee Ringneck parrots in our garden or nearby. We love to have these colourful parrots flying around and feeding in the trees, grasses and bushes around our house. The only time they are not welcome is when they take to our ripening pears and other fruits. In many cases they eat the unripe fruit, so I hope they gets some pains in their little stomachs for damaging our fruit.

In recent weeks two of them have been hanging around one of the trees near the garage. This is an old growth mallee which could well be over a century old. Being so old it has developed several hollow branches. They have been fussing around one of the larger hollows, sitting on the branch, walking along a nearby branch, entering the hollow and sitting in it. Are they a pair? And are they preparing to nest in this hollow?

We can’t be certain that this is a genuine breeding attempt. We will just have to keep an eye on the situation - and have the camera at the ready.

Water bought to rescue rare parrots

A GROUP of conservationists have pitched in to buy water to protect habitat for the threatened regent parrot species.

A small number of Nature Foundation SA supporters donated money to buy 6.8ML of water to save thirsty river red gums at Hogwash Bend, near Waikerie, on the River Murray.

The water was pumped through a sprinkler system at four different sites over the winter months.

River red gums provide the largest nesting site for regent parrots.

There are fewer than 500 breeding pairs of the threatened species left in the state.

Nature Foundation SA special projects consultant Angela Hawdon said it was important to protect the regent parrots' habitat.

"The birds nest in the hollows of river red gums within 60m of the water," she said. "By watering trees, we hope to increase their leaf cover and keep the trees alive for longer, and continue to provide a food source for the birds during their nesting period from August to December each year."

A further 6ML of water has been donated to the Hogwash Bend project to be used over spring to ensure the trees are leafy during nesting season.

The Riverland West Local Action Planning Association has provided the watering with a sprinkler system that has been moved around four different sites at Hogwash Bend.

The association's Anna Reid said keeping the river red gums alive would provide a corridor to the Mallee for the parrots.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Blue tits use ‘aromatherapy’ to disinfect nests

A new study has revealed that birds called blue tits use “aromatherapy” to disinfect their nests.

These birds have been found to line their nests with aromatic plants like mint or lavender, which kill bacteria.

The study suggests that doing so helps the birds create more sterile environment for chicks, which, in turn, grow faster and have a better chance of survival.

However, individual blue tits are quite picky about which plants they use, and the study has yet not explained how they pass their knowledge on to other birds.

On Corsica, according to a report describing the study, blue tits also incorporate fresh fragments of aromatic plants, including lavender, mint and curry plants, into their nests.

“We hypothesised that aromatic plants used by blue tits had some anti-parasite properties, because most of these plants, or close species of the same genus, are traditional Mediterranean plants with well-known medicinal properties,” the BBC quoted Adele Mennerat, a biologist now at the University of Bergen in Norway, as saying.

Working with collaborators from France’s National Centre of Scientific Research and the University of Toulouse, Mennerat initially tested whether these plants deterred blow fly larvae that commonly live in tit nests and feed on chicks’ blood, significantly damaging their health.

“Despite repeated attempts we could never find any effect of these plants on blow fly infestation. So we tested the effects of these plants on the bacteria living on birds,” Mennerat says.

Writing about their findings in the journal Oecologia, the researchers said that aromatic plants, including lavender (Lavandula stoechas), apple mint (Mentha suaveolens), the curry plant (Helichrysum itlaicum) and Achillea ligustica, significantly changed the composition of bacterial communities living on blue tit nestlings.

“They reduce the number of different bacterial species, and the total number of bacteria, especially on chicks that are most vulnerable because they are both highly infested by blow fly larvae and carry great amounts of bacteria on their skin,” says Mennarat.

The researcher admitted that it was yet to be found out as to how volatile compounds produced by the aromatic plants kill the bacteria.

However, Mennerat said, blue tit chicks living in nests adorned with aromatic plants were found to grow faster and had a higher proportion of red blood cells, a strong indicator of a chick’s future chances of survival after fledging.

Mennerat suspects that living in a disinfected nest enables the chicks to allocate less energy to their immune systems and more to growing physically.

“One of the most unexpected findings we got was that female blue tits display individual preferences in their use of aromatic plant species,” she says.

“For example, in a territory with big bushes of lavender, for some reason blue tits at this site still collect mint that can only be found far away from their nests. We still don’t know why and how blue tits have such individual preferences,” she adds.

The researchers are also keen to discover how these personal aromatic preferences are passed on between birds. (ANI)

Birds learn from neighbours how to defend nests

A new study by scientists at the University of Cambridge has shown that inexperienced reed warblers learn how to stop cuckoos from laying eggs in their nests by watching how other members of their species deal with the parasitic birds.

Reed warblers live with the threat that a cuckoo will infiltrate their nest, remove one of their eggs, replace it with a cuckoo egg, and leave cuckoo chicks to be raised by the unsuspecting reed warblers.

New experiments show that reed warblers will attack or “mob” cuckoos on their territory to prevent them from laying eggs in their nests and inexperienced birds learn from observing the mobbing behaviour.

This social learning was specific to cuckoos but not to harmless control birds, such as parrots, suggesting that the warblers are primed to learn defensive behaviour only in response to true threats.

“Our previous work showed that reed warblers distinguish cuckoos from other nest enemies and adjust their defences according to local parasitism risk. Our current work demonstrates that reed warblers can use social information to fine-tune their defences to the nature of the local threat,” said Dr. Justin Welbergen, co-author of the study.

It had previously been established that cuckoos (the parasites) and reed warblers (the hosts) are engaged in a co-evolutionary arms race. Once one had evolved an advantage, such as the reed warblers’ ability to eject the cuckoos’ eggs from their nests, the other would evolve a counter tactic, such as the cuckoo evolving eggs similar to those of the warbler.

However, although genetic adaptations were to be expected, it was a surprise to the scientists that social learning provided another mechanism by which the warblers rapidly increased their nest defence.

“Studies of co-evolutionary arms races between brood parasites and hosts have emphasized genetic adaptations and counter adaptations; however, our field experiments show that transmission through social learning provides a mechanism by which hosts can adjust their nest defence and so respond rapidly to changes in parasitism,” Welbergen said.

The findings are reported in June issue of the journal Science. (ANI)reed warblers, cuckoos, defend nests, nests, bird nests

World’s smallest parrot filmed in wild for first time

The world’s smallest parrot, which is not much bigger than an adult person’s thumb, has been filmed in the wild for the first time.

According to a report by BBC News, an expedition team filming in Papua New Guinea for the BBC programme ‘Lost Land of the Volcano’ caught two of the buff-faced pygmy parrots on camera.

Another adult, which weighs less than half an ounce, was also trapped by the expedition team’s bird expert.

On average, buff-faced pygmy parrots (Micropsitta pusio) stand less than 9cm tall and weigh 11.5g (0.41oz).

They are found across the northern lowlands of the island of New Guinea from the west to the southeastern tip, up to an altitude of around 800m.

Males and females look similar, but females have less prominent markings on the head.

The birds have green feathers with yellowish plumage on their underparts; while their cheeks, face, and crown are more buff-coloured, hence their name.

BBC wildlife cameraman Gordon Buchanan first discovered a tiny nest belonging to two parrots deep within pristine rainforest.

The birds nest in termite mounds, using their beaks and claws to dig their way in before laying eggs in the hole created.

Buchanan staked out the nest from within a camouflaged hide, and was rewarded after a long wait when two birds returned.

He filmed the pair at their nest entrance, as the male and female reinforced their bond by rubbing against one another.

Later, another parrot was trapped unharmed by Dr Jack Dumbacher, an ornithologist from the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, US, who had accompanied the BBC expedition team.

Buff-faced pygmy parrots do not eat fruit and nuts but lichen and fungi.

However, so little is still known about their dietary habits that it has proved difficult to rear the birds in captivity. (ANI)

Monday, September 07, 2009

The rare orange-bellied parrot (left); Ric Ressom monitors numbers of the bird
at Codrington. Photo: Simon O'Dwyer

HE call usually comes in April. They've been spotted fluttering through King Island, a small squadron heading across the strait. Numbering fewer than 150 worldwide, these little birds are rarer than the Siberian tiger. After their buffeted flight through the winds of the Roaring Forties, they scatter thinly along the mainland coast - as they once did in their thousands.

Some travel east to Gippsland, others gather on the wetlands of Werribee. A dozen or so fly west to the Portland area where Ric Ressom, having taken the alarm-raising phone call, picks up his binoculars and prepares to wander the marshes near the Yambuk wind farm.

For the next four months or so, Mr Ressom and fellow observer Helen Phillips will stand sentry among the reeds, monitoring the numbers of Australia's rarest bird - the orange-bellied parrot - making sure its dwindling numbers don't fly into the blades of a wind turbine.

''Despite what some people say, they're not stupid,'' Mr Ressom says. ''They seem to know to stay clear. Even so, you don't want to take chances.''

Last year, the turbines at Yambuk were shut down twice, when the observers alerted the wind farm operator Pacific Hydro, that a number of the parrots were feeding in the vicinity.

Pacific Hydro, which has established three of four planned wind farms in the Portland region, runs the monitoring program to fulfil its environmental protection obligations to the State Government.

The company is also a funding source for a Greening Australia project to expand salt-marsh habitat for orange-bellied parrots, one of the most endangered bird species in the world. The area is now rich with beaded glasswort, the parrot's preferred food.

The result is that the wetlands around the Yambuk turbines have become an orange-bellied parrot hot spot. Of all the sightings on the mainland last year - recorded by a network of about 100 Birds Australia volunteers as well as government and privately funded observers - the biggest group, nine birds, was seen near Yambuk 30 times.

''They're not to easy see,'' Mr Ressom said. ''They're pretty cryptic.

''Their alarm call [a repeated, hard-edged buzzing] is the best indicator … we flush them to see what numbers we've got. Once one bird takes off, the others go with it.

''They're easily spooked and will climb to a great height with a tinkling sound … or they'll fly low across the water with the reeds behind them. They're very crafty in the way they avoid detection.''

It's ironic that the parrot has found sanctuary near Yambuk, given the bird is probably best known for nearly shutting down a wind farm development at Bald Hills in Gippsland three years ago and was also named as a potential threat to the planned desalination plant at Wonthaggi.

Former premier Jeff Kennett blamed the bird for ruining his plan to relocate the Coode Island petrochemical plant (in truth, scuttled on economic grounds).

''The bird's been used as a political football for many years … yet it hasn't been responsible for blocking a single development,'' says Glenn Ehmke, Birds Australia's mainland recovery co-ordinator. ''Even at Bald Hills, [former Environment Minister Ian Campbell] did block it [the wind farm] at first, but went back on it very quickly.''

What's so special about a bird that could easily hide in a school shoe? Along with the swift parrot (also under threat), the orange-bellied parrot is one of only two parrots in the world that is fully migratory - meaning its entire population makes the perilous run across Bass Strait each year from its breeding grounds in southern Tasmania.

Aside from the parrot program, Pacific Hydro employs dog handlers to do monthly surveys for any birds and bats killed at its three Portland wind farms. Mr Ressom is also kept on through the year to monitor the impact on raptors. Says Pacific Hydro's Emily Wood: ''Our obligations for this kind of monitoring finished two years ago, but we have continued to do it as it gives us reliable information.'' On that note, Birds Australia has no complaints.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Carolina Parakeet

The Carolina Parakeet (Conuropsis carolinensis)[1] was the only parrot species native to the eastern United States. It was found from the Ohio Valley to the Gulf of Mexico, and lived in old forests along rivers. It was the only species at the time classified in the genus Conuropsis. It was called puzzi la née ("head of yellow") or pot pot chee by the Seminole and kelinky in Chikasha (Snyder & Russell, 2002).

The last wild specimen was killed in Okeechobee County, Florida in 1904, and the last captive bird died at the Cincinnati Zoo on 21 February 1918. This was the male specimen "Incas", who died within a year of his mate "Lady Jane." Coincidentally, Incas died in the same aviary cage in which the last Passenger Pigeon, "Martha", had died nearly four years prior.[2] It was not until 1939, however, that it was determined that the Carolina Parakeet had become extinct.

At some date between 1937 and 1955, three parakeets resembling this species were sighted and filmed in the Okefenokee Swamp of Georgia. However, the American Ornithologists Union concluded after analyzing the film, that they had probably filmed feral parakeets. Additional reports of the bird were made in Okeechobee County, Florida until the late 1920s, but these are not supported by specimens.

The species may have appeared as a very rare vagrant in places as far north as Southern Ontario. A few bones, including a pygostyle found at the Calvert Site in Southern Ontario came from the Carolina Parakeet. The possibility remains open that this particular specimen was taken to Southern Ontario for ceremonial purposes

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Parrots as pets: Caring for parrots is no simple task

Many high schools have student clubs that meet after school to hone their Latin, skiing or golf skills, but Magnificat High School in Rocky River has an unusual student group.

About 30 students at the private Catholic school for girls join the Animal Outreach Club each year to help animals. They collect supplies for local animal shelters and rescue groups, make catnip toys and treats and raise money for local and national animal welfare groups.

The group meets monthly and occasionally invites animal rescuers and their adoptable dogs and cats to the school to help socialize the pets.

Animal Outreach was founded by two students 10 years ago, when art teacher Kathleen DesForges agreed to be the group's advisor. She remains enthusiastically involved.

"I was so honored and jumped at the chance to work with these compassionate students and provide some measure of comfort to the homeless dogs and cats in our area shelters," she said. "What a joy it has been these last 10 years."

This year's co-president is senior Olivia Biello, of Olmsted Falls.

"We need to be the voice of the animals," she said. "This club gives Magnificat High School the opportunity to help local animals and give them the voice they need."

More Animals in the News:

London is a Timneh African grey parrot available for adoption from the Parrot Education & Adoption Center based in Olmsted Falls.
Parrots as pets: Caring for parrots is no simple task, so the local Parrot Education & Adoption Center hosts seminars on the long-lived, highly intelligent birds. Learn about parrot personalities, including the popular cockatoos and African greys from noon to 4 p.m. Sept. 13 at the Independence Technology Center, 6801 Brecksville Road. It's free. But psychologist and animal behavior expert Susan Friedman's two-day workshop on living with parrots costs $75. It runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 17 and 18 at the Hampton Inn, 10305 Cascade Crossings in Brooklyn. Register for the events at or call 440-669-0082.

Turk needs a home.
Michael Vick protests: Protesters are expected outside each NFL stadium across the country where there is a game opening day, Sept.13. In Cleveland, protesters will gather at 11:30 a.m. at the West Third Street parking lot and walk to the Cleveland Browns Stadium carrying signs and passing out fliers about dog fighting. Get details at After serving nearly two years in prison for dog fighting and killing six pit bulls, quarterback Vick signed a $6.8 million contract with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Dog fights in Ohio: The Humane Society of the United States has paid $14,470 in reward money to three tipsters since 2008 for information that led police to three dog-fighting rings in and near Dayton, where law enforcers have made wiping out dog fighting one of their priorities. Anyone with information anywhere in Ohio is asked to call 877-TIP-HSUS.

Almond needs a home.

Gala in Summit County: The Humane Society of Greater Akron's ninth annual fund-raising gala will have a James Bond theme. It's set for 6 to 11 p.m. Sept. 26 at the Akron City Centre Hotel, 20 W. Mill St. The price is $65 for hors d'oeuvres only and $125 for a full dinner. Partygoers will play roulette and other games of chance and participate in auctions featuring a vintage 25-inch strand of Mikimoto pearls, an Accutron 10 diamond men's Chronograph watch, a catered dinner with wine for 10 at your home and a Cavaliers jersey signed by Shaquille O'Neal. Learn more at or call 330-657-2010, Ext. 103.

Donating wisely: The 2009 Watchdog Report on 162 animal and environmental charities helps donors and people preparing

Merritt Clifton

their wills find charities that share their priorities and get the most out of a dollar. The report looks at each group's top salaries, their programs and how they spend their money. Most donors don't want their money spent on seven-figure salaries, plush offices and glossy fund-raising appeals, says investigative journalist Merritt Clifton. The Watchdog lets you know which groups spend most of their money directly helping animals. Get it for $25 at or Animal People, Box 960, Clinton, WA, 98236, or call 360-579-2505 to use a credit card.

Biased parrots better at problem-solving than ambidextrous counterparts

Parrots that are strongly right- or left-footed are better at problem-solving tasks than their ambidextrous counterparts, according to a new study.

Lead researchers Maria Magat and Culum Brown at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, worked with eight species of Australian parrot, some of which are primarily left-biased - gang-gang cockatoos, for instance, are 100 per cent left-footed - others right-biased and the rest “ambidextrous”.

They studied their side preference by noting which eye they preferred for looking at food.

During the study, the researchers put the birds to various tasks, including foraging for different seeds sprinkled in a tray of pebbles and raising a hanging seed basket up to their beaks using their claws.

They found that the birds that had a strong bias towards using one side or the other were faster at the tasks than species that showed no preference between left or right.

All animals have cerebral lateralisation, meaning that their brains are divided into two hemispheres responsible for processing different tasks.

Strongly lateralised individuals are strongly “handed” - or strongly “footed” in the case of birds.

“Our study shows that strong lateralisation improves problem-solving ability and foraging in birds, which is an evolutionary advantage,” New Scientist quoted Brown as saying.

“It allows each side of the brain to become specialised at different tasks, so, for instance, the right side of the parrot’s brain can process foraging tasks without being slowed by interference from the left side of the brain,” the expert added.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Polly wants a parrot picnic

Parrots, it is said, have their own personalities.

Snuggles shows off for the camera, spreading her white wings to reveal their yellow undersides, like the surprisingly extravagant lining of a suit coat.

Socko doesn’t like anyone, even her owner, Mike Edwards, to peek under her wings.

Some birds nervously pluck out their own feathers. Others will give their owners a sociable little kiss. Some are sweet-natured, and others – often helped along by neglect or abuse – can be mean.

The people who gathered Saturday in Franklin Park like all kinds.

“Their personalities are just amazing,” said Chris Sheasley, 27, who works at a pet store and helps run a bird rescue operation for cockatiels. “You watch any bird long enough and they all have their own individual personalities. You have dog people, cat people – I’m a bird person.”

Organized by Pampered Parrots Avian Rescue, the picnic brought together parrot lovers of all kinds. More than 20 people and 10 parrots – ranging from umbrella cockatoos to cockatiels to green-cheeked conures to African grays – gathered for the event.

Several of those attending met through Pampered Parrots, owned by Bret and Tracy Conant, and have taken up the cause of bird rescue.

There’s a pretty big need. The Conants have rescued and found homes for more than 500 birds in nine years; Sheasley has 23 birds under his care now. Bret Conant said a lot of people buy parrots without realizing that they can take some effort.

“People will get into birds without researching it,” he said. “They don’t realize that all birds make noise, all birds can destroy furniture and other things, all birds can make a mess.”

Most of the people at Saturday’s picnic know one another; many carried someone else’s bird on their shoulder. And most of them have more birds at home.

Jeanne Ettenborough, 67, of Spokane, had to stop and think before saying how many parrots she has. She has “a lesser cockatoo, a severe mini-mackaw, a brown-eyed Meyer parrot, a regular little Meyer parrot, and I’ve just got a Jardine, two cockatiels and a little parakeet,” she said.

“About nine, I think,” she said. “Oh – I have a love bird, too. I forgot the love bird.”

Ettenborough said her parrot habit became serious about 14 years ago, when a little Meyer parrot followed her around in a store.

“The bird actually picked me,” she said.

Other bird owners tell a similar tale.

“My granddad taught me you never pick the dog, the dog picks you,” said Edwards, eating a sandwich while Socko perched on his shoulder. “That’s pretty much how this was. … He picked me.”

Favorite snack foods for parrots

George Sommers wrote:-

The munchies: an overwhelming craving for food, especially of the junk persuasion - parrots get it, too! Pippy the Goffin's cockatoo offers the following culinary suggestions.

Millet spray is clusters of tiny grain seeds bound together which Pippy likes to grasp in one foot while crunching. Bonus point: small, often finicky birds like parakeets love it, too.

Summertime is the berries - and blueberries are a delicious seasonal treat. They're small, manageable and eagerly devoured, so they don't make as much of a mess as many other foods. Strawberries are another favorite fruit treat - but the juice that stains birdy's beak will make him look like a miniature vulture!

Pippy espcecially enjoys picking the kernels off ears of raw corn on the cob. Another veggie fave is sliced carrots.

When our late blooming summer segues into fall (hopefully not for several weeks) chopped or sliced apples are on the menu. Make sure to rinse off these or any other fruits or vegetables before offering.

When the house people are dining, Pippy is not shy about announcing her desire for a piece of the action, especially when the action consists of rice from the local Mexican takeout, pasta and pizza - and don't skimp on the tomato sauce!

Unsalted peanuts in the shell double as a treat and an activity as your bird eagerly cracks open that shell to get at the delicious prize inside.strawberries, millet

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Device to aid farmers, save parrots

Wonderful! Now if you could just start a program replanting the parrot’s natural food sources, and nesting boxes, maybe they could rebound. What about asking some of the men in Northward to build boxes for the parrots? And, while helping parrots, what about building nesting boxes for your owls? The sugar planters here in Florida have started building owl boxes and the rodent problem is decreasing dramatically. Just a suggestion. - Dianne Jones

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Bird’s brain: Nature center’s parrot stays sharp with movies, mischief

Tino, a scarlet macaw at the Prairie Park Nature Center, can shout out hello and goodbye to visitors as well as mimic several other laughs and bits of communication.

Tino, a scarlet macaw at the Prairie Park Nature Center, can shout out hello and goodbye to visitors as well as mimic several other laughs and bits of communication.

Twenty-year-old Tino’s favorite movie is “The Wizard of Oz.” He likes to dance and sing along when he watches.

And if that’s not absurd enough, it gets better: Tino’s a bird. He’s a scarlet macaw — a colorful type of parrot native to South America — who lives at the Prairie Park Nature Center, 2730 Harper St.

“He seems to get a kick out of anything musical,” says Marty Birrell, nature interpretive supervisor. “He’s alternately adorable and obnoxious.”

According to workers at Prairie Park, Tino’s got rhythm. He likes to strut his stuff whenever he can. He loves movies — particularly musicals — bobs his body back and forth rhythmically with song. Singing along also comes naturally. He’s been known to spout out lyrics to the Oompa-Loompa songs from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

And he also likes cartoons. Birrell speculates that’s because the programs are as animated as Tino himself. A neurotic attention hound, Tino likes to mess around with the kids who come to see him. His antics can be entertaining or annoying.

Entertaining: When children say hi to Tino, he waves his wings back and says “hello.”

Tino - Scarlet Macaw

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Tino is a Scarlet Macaw at the Prairie Park Nature Center who can welcome visitors with a "hello" or a "goodbye" plus vocalize other bits and pieces of conversation and laughter. Two of Tino's favorite things to do is to get a spray water bath and watch musicals like "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" Enlarge video

Annoying: While children are at the center, Tino randomly shrieks or screams, using, as Birrell calls it, his loud voice.

“Here at the nature center, he’s best known for frightening small children,” Birrell says. “We have a big sign up warning everyone. It’s kind of tiresome.”

When kids shuffle into the nature center, they tend to crowd around Tino in awe. They instantly try to beckon a response. They’ll call out things like, “pretty bird,” and “Polly want a cracker?”

Tino usually sits smugly on his perch, unresponsive, until the children grow bored and amble off. The moment their backs are turned, though, Tino launches into a loud shriek, evoking tears and screams in the youngsters. Older kids get a charge from Tino’s scare tactics, but toddlers react differently.

“He can make a small toddler’s ears hurt,” Birrell says. “We’ll hear his shriek and then hear the sobs and know he’s gotten another victim.”

But Tino doesn’t shriek and scream to be malicious. It’s all in fun. After screaming loudly, he throws his head and wings back and cackles, as if it’s all a big joke.

And Tino doesn’t just play tricks on visitors. He also works. He’s a regular prop in the nature center’s educational programs that feature rain forest animals. The programs are designed to educate children about birds, rain forests and adaptation.

Tino loves participating, but when he’s not working, he gets to have some fun: The center is closed on Mondays, known to Tino as “movie night.” Viewed as enrichment time, movie night serves to stimulate Tino and the other birds at Prairie Park. Parrots are intelligent birds, and they crave interaction. If they aren’t properly stimulated they will misbehave, self-mutilate or can even go insane.

All of the parrots at the nature center watch movies on Mondays. Duncan and Maury, brother and sister African Greys, enjoy wildlife movies the most. Anything featuring other birds is a big hit. And cartoons also are a favorite. To top it off, Birrell sometimes will cart in the crow, Edgar, to watch movies with the parrots. The birds talk, sing and have a good time.

Andy Wolff has worked at the nature center for three years, and it took him two just to get comfortable handling Tino without gloves.

Now Wolff and Tino have a good relationship,

and Wolf more or less trusts the bird. Andy Wolf and Tino have a pretty good relationship and Wolf can handle the scarlet macaw without gloves. Tino can’t fly, so he can’t physically hurt visitors, but some children get upset when Tino shrieks loudly for attention.

Andy Wolf and Tino have a pretty good relationship and Wolf can handle the scarlet macaw without gloves. Tino can’t fly, so he can’t physically hurt visitors, but some children get upset when Tino shrieks loudly for attention.

“Tino has a gentle side too,” Wolff says. “He’ll hold my hand and preen my arm hairs, taking care of me. He’s a pretty sweet guy, really.”

Sunday, August 09, 2009

There's no place like home

Lola back in her cage where she belongs

HAMPTON — Sharon Chang said her beloved parrot, Lola, is back home where she belongs after disappearing last week. After three days Lola was discovered four towns away in Epping.

"She had a little adventure, but she is happy to be home, and we are happy she is home," said Chang.

The four-year-old African gray parrot, which had never been outside before, was safely returned to Chang thanks to an Epping couple who found the exotic gray bird with a bright red tail. The couple contacted Epping's animal control officer who remarkably located Chang via an Internet Web site.

"It really was a miracle they found her," said Chang, who had been desperately searching for Lola since she accidently flew out of her home on Sunday, July 26. "I couldn't sleep or eat."

Chang said Lola flew out a sliding door that was partly open in her family's newly installed sun room at their home on Towle Farm Road.

"Something startled her and instead of flying back to her cage like she usually does, she flew out the door and up into the trees," said Chang. "We couldn't get her to come down."

Lola eventually left the tree, her owner said, and headed west.

"I was up all night," Chang said. "I kept going out and calling her name.

"I would also whistle because she likes to do the music of the 'Charge' baseball theme," the Hampton woman said. "I was hoping she would respond, but there was nothing.'

Chang spent the next morning going door-to-door asking her neighbors if they had seen the parrot and spent the afternoon contacting every local veterinarian in hopes that someone had turned Lola in.

She also put ads in the newspaper, hung flyers all around town, and posted a description of her pet on the lost-and-found section on

"She was more than just a pet to me," Chang said. "She was like my little baby."

After three days, Chang began to think the worst.

"Now I'm not Catholic, but I was praying to Saint Anthony because I know he helps people find lost things," Chang said. "I really didn't think I would see her again."

It was then she received a call from Epping Animal Control Officer Bill Hansen who informed her that he had Lola in his possession.

"I couldn't believe it," Chang said. "She flew 15 miles away.

"I'm not sure where she thought she was going, but God bless her, she was OK," the Hampton woman said.

Hansen picked up the bird after a couple who lives on Prescott Road called around 7 a.m. on Wednesday, July 29, to report finding a "lonely bird."

"They knew the bird was domesticated because it was just sitting on their porch even though their cat was there," Chang said.

"Lola is not afraid of cats," she said. "I have five cats and Lola loves to terrorize them. She loves to chase them and bite their tales."

Chang said Hansen picked up the bird, brought it home and went on the Internet to see if anyone reported a lost parrot in the area.

That's when he discovered Chang's ad posted on

"Craigslist has gotten a bad name, but it does do good," Chang said. "I'm eternally thankful for whoever Craig really is."

Chang said Hansen took great care of Lola.

"She was just tired and very stressed," Chang said of the bird. "When we got into the car she kept saying 'Good night Lola. Good night Lola.'

"That is what she says every night when she wants to go back in her cage and go to sleep," her owner said.

Chang said she tried to give Hansen a cash reward, but he refused to take it. So she ended up giving the award to the couple who found Lola.

Since being home, Chang said Lola hasn't left her side.

"It was nice to hear her voice again," Chang said. "A lot of people think parrots just mimic what you say, but she actually carries on a conversation.

"The very first morning she was back home she watched as I poured more coffee and said, 'Do you want more coffee?'" Chang said. "I thought 'Ahhh, my baby's home.'"

Banham Zoo breeding endangered parrots

Banham Zoo's latest and most colourful arrivals have shocked staff by suddenly being classified endangered - but staff are aiming to save the species.

The zoo received two sun conure parrots in June, thinking at the time that the birds were common in their native South America.

However, since then, the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has officially labelled them an endangered species.

It is now thought there may be just one flock remaining in the wild, found in Guyana, containing as few as 200 birds.

Numbers of the brightly-coloured creatures have dwindled because of illegal trapping, as birds can be sold for profit as pets.

“The news came as a real surprise as there had been no indication that the species was in such trouble,” said animal manager Mike Woolham.

“Banham Zoo has held sun conures for a number of years now and we have had considerable breeding success which I am sure we will be able to achieve again.”

The two birds were received this summer from a specialist parrot zoo in Lincolnshire, and joined an existing pair at Banham

Soon the group of four will have a lot more company.

Before the end of the month another 10 birds are due to arrive, which the zoo is hoping will form the basis of a breeding group that can bolster numbers of the endangered species.

The parrots can be seen in the Bird Garden at Banham Zoo.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Threatened species – Wallum Ground Parrot

Date: Saturday 22nd August 2009
Location: Noosa National Park

Only three in the world and there’s one right here

Ground Parrot (Pezoporus wallicus)

The Ground Parrot is a stunningly beautiful bird and one of only three ground dwelling parrots in the world. Sightings of parrot have been recorded in the Noosa National Park including Marcoola, Coolum, Emu Swamp, Weyba and Noosa Link section.

During the free spring Wildflower Festival 15 – 29 August, don’t miss the opportunity to learn more about this elusive bird, hear its distinctive song and maybe even catch a glimpse.

Date & Time: 22 August, 5.20 pm – 6.15 pm
Wildflower Festival: 15 – 29 August
What: Join Lyn Boston in the closed heath and sedge lands of Noosa National Park to learn more about the endangered Ground Parrot.
Where: Noosa National Park
Bookings: Sunshine Coast Council on 5420 8200 – Places limited – Bookings essential
Cost: Free

The following article has been written by Lyn Boston from the Bat Rescue Group

The Ground Parrot is listed as a “vulnerable” species under the Queensland Nature Conservation (Wildlife) Regulation 1994. It is a distinctive bright green and yellow bird with a head and body similar in length to a lorikeet. The ground parrot has long toes and a very long yellow-barred green tail.

The ground parrot is a specialist of sedgeland and heathlands on the Sunshine Coast, eats up to 40 different seed types and fashions a domed nest cavity on the ground. As the name suggests the ground parrot spends most of its time on the ground making it particularly available to predators such as feral cats and foxes.

The nest is screened from view, and generally forms a tunnel. The female incubates the eggs and broods the young from September to December. The incubation period lasts for up to four weeks, during which incubation the female is fed by the male, as are the young when they hatch. Clutch size ranges from one to six.

The ground parrot is shy, elusive and a reluctant flyer. If disturbed all you will hear is the flapping of wings, and see a yellowish-green blur before it dives back into the vegetation for cover.

Probably the most interesting behaviour of these birds is the timing of their calls. They are crepuscular, that is they call pre sunrise and post sunset and are rarely heard outside these times. They are first birds to call in the morning and the last ones at night. Often the only way of determining the presence of these shy birds is to listen for their call. The call consists of a series of piercing, resonating whistles, rising in steps, with each note flowing on almost unbroken, but abruptly higher than the preceding note.

The ground parrot’s habitat – coastal heathland – has been under threat for some time along our coastline, as many areas are cleared for housing and development. The ground parrot has found sanctuary in national parks stretching from Marcoola to Noosa. These habitats provide a high abundance and diversity of food, adequate cover and suitable roosting and nesting opportunities for the ground parrot.

Monitoring of this species to determine the distribution and abundance has been undertaken in Noosa National Park for a number of years and will be continued to ensure all possible measures are taken to preserve this special bird.

Friday, August 07, 2009

A parrot diet of pellets . . . and pizza?

When it comes to chowing down, variety is the spice of life and everyone wants a change of taste, including the feathered members of the family. “Pet birds can be allowed to eat the same food you might prepare for yourself, and in fact, prefer such food, and it can be healthy for them”, says Dr. Alice Blue-McLendon, a veterinarian who specializes in birds at Texas A&M University's College of Veterinary Medicine. “It's usually okay to give birds what you might be eating at the time.”

Of course, fresh fruits and vegetables are the healthiest (for them and for us!), but eggs, cheese, pasta, rice, potatoes, noodles, bits of meat or fish and other people foods are okay for your bird to ingest. "In general, foods that are rich in protein, vitamins and calcium are good for birds," Blue-McLendon says.

However, there are some foods that can be detrimental to the bird’s long-term health and should be given in moderation—like those containing a high sugar content. Most foods with sugar are perfectly safe for birds to have a bite or even two, but the quantities should be limited to a very small amount and only on rare occasions rather than daily. Parrots seem to love sweets and can become little junk food junkies if allowed.

Foods high in salt aren’t good for most people or for birds, either; since parrots are so much smaller, a little bit goes a long way. Some foods can simply be taken out of the preparation cycle before salt is added so the parrot can enjoy a safe serving. If your parrot goes nuts over cooked veggies and you salt your food, then give them their serving before adding the seasoning. Unsalted crackers and other processed foods low on sodium can be can safely shared with the flock.

Any food that has a high fat content should likewise be limited. In the wild, parrots eat very little fat; what they do eat is mainly from bugs and other protein sources. Certain parrot species, particularly Amazons and cockatoos, can become obese and suffer from food- related issues like us. "Some birds need a low-fat diet. Too much cholesterol may contribute to heart disease. Also, many types of birds are prone to get hardening of the arteries much the same way as it occurs in people," Blue-McLendon notes.

There are a few things that can actually kill your parrot as far as human food goes, ones they should never, ever, be allowed to sample. These absolute no-no’s include avocadoes, chocolate, alcoholic beverages, seeds of any fruit, raw meat, uncooked eggs, or any food that are moldy or have spoiled.

Most everything else that you eat can be shared with your parrot. The more variety your bird eats, the better its health will be, the more vibrant the feather colors and the happier it will be. But remember to always use some common sense and dole out the delectable tidbits in small, bird-sized portions.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Endangered bird on display

The endangered Swift Parrot goes on show in a Tasmanian zoo today for the first time.

A Hobart breeder gave 15 parrots to Tasmania Zoo near Launceston to take part in a breeding program.

The zoo's owner Dick Warren says it's a great coup for any wildlife park.

"It's been on the endangered list for a long time and they're getting very rare," Mr Warren said.

"We've been fighting for six years to get the Swift Parrot and to have a breeding program."

"We've been fighting for a fair while now for permits and we've just got them through - we've had to build a special enclosure," he said.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Reading your parrot’s body language can help relationship

We all use non-verbal cues to convey our thoughts and feelings. An attentive listener will tilt their head slightly forward, while a bored person looks anywhere but at the person who is talking to them. Leaning one’s body towards another person says “I would like to be closer to you”, while crossing one’s arms in front of their chest telegraphs “don’t come any closer”.

New parrot owners are sometimes quick to misjudge their bird's behavior and wonder why they received a bite or why the bird fluttered off their hand. Does the bird want you to come to it, or move away? If you start to understand what bird body language means, it's easy to read bird behavior. Here are a few things to watch for:

The “Sucker Punch”: Parrots, notably the African grey, will put their head down, as if wanting to be scratched. But the moment you begin to rub its head, it reaches around and gives you a big nip. Avian behavioral consultant Liz Wilson has coined this “the sucker punch” and says when the bird has its head down with eyes looking to the side or closed, it is usually prepared to bite.

Eye pinning: In some parrots with light colored eyes, you will notice the pupil dilating in and out when the bird becomes excited. This happens a lot in Amazon parrots, macaws, Poicephalus, and greys, but is not uncommon with any parrot. Eye pinning means a heightened excited state, so this isn't a good time to stick your finger into your parrot's face –you might just get a bloody finger.

Tail flaring: Birds shake their tails after preening or to release tension, but tail flaring is different –this is when the tail feathers are flared out like a fan. Amazons are prone to this, but other types of parrots do this as well. This indicates an excited state, and often appears with eye pinning.

Beak clicking: The clicking of the beak can indicate an excited state, but can also be a warning to stay away.

Feather fluffing: A bird will ruffle and fluff its feathers after preening to remove debris, and will also fluff its feathers when it's cold. If a bird has its feathers continually fluffed, it may be ill and is trying to keep warm.

Beak wiping: A bird will wipe its beak on a perch or cage bars after eating to remove debris. This is normal behavior and is nothing to worry about.

Crest position: Some birds, like cockatiels, cockatoos, and hawk headed parrots have head crests that are raised or lowered to indicate emotional state. If you have one of these types of birds, watch to see what prompts the bird to raise its crest - is it excited, fearful, or happy?

Shivering: Birds shiver and shake after taking a bath -- their breast muscles involuntarily contract and expand to create heat in the body. A bird may also seem to shiver when it's very excited. Quaker parrots are known to "quake," which is how they got their name.

Flapping wings: Birds often hold tight to the perch and flap madly as if wanting to take off in flight. They do this for exercise and when they're happy, and it can also be part of breeding behavior.

Head bobbing: Head bobbing can indicate that a bird is anxious to go somewhere, or perhaps is regurgitating to you in an effort to bond with you. Very young parrots bob their heads a lot, as do Quaker parrots.

Studying your bird’s body language and understanding what they are expressing can make a difference if they’re content—or determined to send you to a quick trip to the first aid kit!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The playful parrots who play catch with the family dog

Game on: One of the two-year-old Macaws chases after Flitzer the dog

Teasing the family dog and raiding apple trees, these playful parrots love nothing more than to cause mischief.

Pictured in the German countryside, female Macaws Ava and Mio cruise the skies looking for fun and food.

The yellow and blue pair of birds, aged two, have proved themselves to be quite a handful for their owner Julian Knott.

Steer clear! The bright blue and yellow bird charges directly for the hapless dog

The birds often charge at Julian's dog Flitzer and have even riled a neighbour's horse.

'Its an interactive game between the birds and Flitzer our dog,' says 25-year-old Julian from Hamburg.

'The games are sometimes initiated by the parrots and sometimes by Flitzer.

'But in the blink of an eye the hunter becomes the hunted and Flitzer follows the Macaws.

Carry on racing: The other bird joins in as the trio zoom around the field

'We let them out each morning and it only takes a few minutes before they have emptied the apple tree,' adds Julian, a helicopter pilot.

'After they have eaten they both rest in a tree, just to become active towards the evening.

'This is playtime for the parrots and they even manage to play with Lasso, a 15-year-old horse from the stable behind us.'

Out of breath: Flitzer has a rest while the parrots refuel for more fun

Julian says that even the locals have become acquainted to the exotic birds, who have a wingspan of 130 centimetres.

'Sometimes they call me, that they have seen them on the river, bathing or visiting a shop,' he says.

'We don't care - they come home every evening. They feel totally at home with us and we don't have to be scared - until the next morning.'

On horseback: The mischievous pair make friends with a neighbour's horse
Winged menace: The notorious pair fly free during the day before returning home to rest at nigh

Friday, July 17, 2009

Rare swift parrot sightings south of Narooma

LOCAL birdwatchers have reported the arrival of up to 30 per cent of the total population of the highly endangered Swift Parrot in forests on the Far South Coast within the past fortnight.

The small green Swift Parrot is among the most endangered parrots in the country with less than a thousand breeding pairs remaining.

The species annually migrates between Tasmania and southeastern Australia but has dramatically declined in numbers because of habitat disturbance and an unfortunate habit of colliding into windows.

NPWS Ranger, Robyn Kesby, said today that anyone who knows anything about this rare species is very excited about the news they have arrived in such numbers on the Far South Coast.

"Seeing one would be a real treat but local bird group, the Far South Coast Birdwatchers and experts from Birds Australia, have reported seeing as many as 350 in one group at Corunna State Forest south of Narooma and another group of 200 at Nelsons Beach in Mimosa Rocks National Park," Ms Kesby said.

Chris Tzaros from Birds Australia said that there was some concern earlier when Swift Parrots were not appearing at their more regular locations this season.

"I think that it is likely the serious drought conditions which have impacted on their favoured locations such as the box-ironbark woodlands of central Victoria and the inland slopes of the divide in NSW combined with favourable flowering in coastal spotted gum forests is why we are seeing them in such numbers on the Far South Coast.

Local birdwatcher and photographer, Max Sutcliffe said today that he was thrilled to be able to see and photograph this rare visitor.

"When I heard that Chris Tzaros from Birds Australia had found over 350 in Corunna State Forest feeding on spotted gum I immediately thought of Nelsons Beach in Mimosa Rocks National Park.

"I went out there on June 20 and much to my delight saw more than 20 feeding on blossom and lerp.

"On following visits their numbers increased to more than 100 within two weeks, some seen feeding on Banksia flowers also. This was an awesome experience as I watched two flocks of over 50 fly in and they filled the sky," Mr Sutcliffe said.

Because it is so rare the Swift Parrot is the focus of intensive efforts nationally to reverse its decline. A National Recovery Program is active for the Swift Parrot with the help of volunteers in NSW, ACT, Qld, Vic and SA who help conduct national surveys twice annually that track the movement of this species across the landscape.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

NOT to be outdone by their feathered cousins in the pavilion next door, the Gympie Cage Bird Club also held its annual bird show at the showgrounds last weekend.

The show was a popular drawcard among breeders, with 24 exhibitors and 319 birds on display.

Some of the birds exhibited on the day included canaries, budgerigars, cockatiels, parrots and finches.

The day was a busy one for all involved. Besides the judging there were other attractions including a cent auction and a bird sale.

Winners included Pamela Window who won the champion cockatiel, Zoe Doyle who took out champion large parrot, Jenny Stolberg was awarded champion finch and Betty D'Arcy won champion border canary.

Cage Bird Club secretary Betsy Quince said it was a great family day.

“There was a continual flow of people - very rewarding for all the people concerned,” she said.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Taxidermy in his blood

O some, Ben Carrillo’s backyard shed could be considered a mortuary.

It’s filled with the carcasses of mammals, fish and birds.

At times the stench of rotting crustaceans or strong chemicals permeate the surrounding air.

But to Mr Carillo, it is a time capsule of what could be lost.

For about 20 years he has been a taxidermist and sees taxidermy as one way to preserve rare animals and capture their beauty.

“I’m a bird lover and animal lover,” he said.

“I don’t want to see nice animals going to waste – that’s probably the biggest attraction to it.”

His obsession with taxidermy began when he was breeding budgies in his early twenties.

He wanted to preserve his rare crested budgie and decided to mount it himself after discovering the price to get it done professionally.

Mr Carrillo said the budgie ultimately looked more like a giraffe than a bird, but he was not disheartened.

He has since specialised in mounting fish and birds but will mount “just about anything.”

“I’ve seen it all. I’ve done a camel, I’ve done a monkey, I’ve done all types of things that you can think of,” he said.

His clientele includes hunters, pet owners and museums.

“There’s not really too much that I find strange because I’ve had people bring around their pet rats and they have little costumes with them.”

But Mr Carrillo also said taxidermy played an important role in preserving the memory of endangered or extinct wildlife.

“There are species lost every week,” he said.

“This is the only way we’re going to be able to see them.”

He said that it also provided a way for pet owners to hold on to their beloved animals.

Mr Carrillo said the taxidermy industry was cut-throat and the future was not looking good for what he called a “very secretive business”.

He said five Victorian taxidermists retired last year and with no courses in Melbourne, the business relied solely on mentorship.

“I’m probably the youngest taxidermist out there at the moment, and I’m 43 years old. Now everyone is getting older in this game and there aren’t many newcomers,” he said.

He said that not many taxidermists would take on apprentices for fear of them stealing clients.

“You’ll see a couple of newcomers in the Yellow Pages and then they’ll be gone.”

Mr Carrillo said with little money to be made, his venture into the industry came from love.

“Honestly, once taxidermy is in your blood you can’t get away from it,” he said.