Hello, friends! We hope you enjoy this issue, with its focus on African Grey parrots. In this issue’s TheRoundUp we celebrate that spirit of generosity which inspires folks to “#BetheChange” — like Manko (@i_met-Manko (IG)) leading the way for animal therapy birds in Australia, and Will and Matty Gladstone (@thebluefeetfoundation (IG)) for their innovative support to the blue-footed booby. Also, we continue to study free-flight, with both Peter Corbeau of Taking Wing Consulting (@takingwingconsulting (IG)) and Indonesian Arga with his family of five macaws (@noegie_arga (IG)).
Hailing from Persia, Fandogh (@Fandoghhh__ (IG), in his debonaire attire, is a true ambassador for African greys. Fandogh has graciously and inquisitively followed our Insta account from the beginning, and provided much joy with his dignified yet gentle bearing. A sophistique, sometimes tongue in cheek, here Fandogh dons his cap and playfully teases those who would call it abuse. Daily Fandogh charms his 31k followers:
Both Rexi and Freddy found rescue and their forever home with Gill Horwell (FB). We hope to bring you their full story in our November issue.
Luna (@Luna_the_rescue_grey (IG)) last graced TheRoundUp about a year ago, her joyous story of rescue and rehabilitation rendering her the heart-throb of the male African greys on Twitter. At that time six-year-old Luna was settling in with work-at-home dad and had eyes only for him. Comfortable, respected and safe in her new home, Luna for the most part stopped plucking — it’s been a year of feather growth. Luna still sports fluff from new feathers, has gained confidence and has opened her heart to Mom parront as well. Importantly, Luna serves the family function of keeping Dad’s head on his shoulders during work hours, the best preventative medicine for monologues (aka “rants,” lol!)
Congratulations to Echo, African grey, and Zoey, blue and gold macaw, as they are adopted in to the warm fid family at @katiethemacaw (IG). Echo and Zoey join green-cheek conure Nibbles, macaw Apollo and lilac-crowned Amazon Oscar to form again a family of five.
Echo and Zoey arrive in the aftermath of deep loss. First, macaw Max died in January from PDD– Proventricular Dilatation Disease, also known as Macaw Wasting Disease. The family destroyed Max’s toys and disinfected everything although conventional advice dismissed the likelihood of PDD passing to other birds except when housed together. PDD, an auto-immune disease originating in the brain, causes a macaw’s body to attack itself. A silent killer thought possibly from a new avian bornovirus, it strikes suddenly with a minimum of observable symptoms. Although Katie was poorly within a few months, the vet did not consider PDD as on the radar. Then, in June one day, Katie just died!
Necropsies of both Max and Katie revealed the characteristic wasting of PDD on numerous organs. Because PDD research is in its infancy and because both birds were rescues, there’s no way to determine when either contracted PDD nor how long it remained dormant before onset.
The days grow short in the Northern Hemisphere, but in Tamilnadu Chennai, India, the days are getting longer and Coco (@meet.mittu_coco_and cleo (IG)) has welcomed two rescues into her home: first Mittu the Alexandrine, then more recently Cleo, the Indian ringneck. Coco’s parront is friends with a bird-shop owner, and three months ago this friend asked Coco’s parront to take Mittu when an earlier buyer was found to have neglected him. Mittu arrived screaming and anxious. Coco and his parront’s gentle ways soon soothed Mittu. Cleo arrived about a month ago, the opposite of Mittu, very quiet and shy. Cleo and Mittu, however, quickly bonded and the family makes a happy trio together.
,DownUnder birds greet the glory of spring — no doubt with joy and the occasional hormonal scream. Switching from African greys to macaws — have you met Manko?! (@i_met_manko (IG))
This week-end bird model and therapy animal Manko pairs up with Wild Bolivian Adventures Eco-tour Agency (@wild-bolivian-adventures (IG)) to present a Macaw Madness workshop at Queensland’s Elements Festival (@elements_festival_ (IG)) in Southeast Queensland. The workshop educates people about macaws the illegal pet trade. If you’re in Queensland, be sure to join them!
Manko and his parront Katheryn Taylah have a mission beyond modeling and teaching about the pet trade: Manko as a pet therapy bird in Australia is on a mission to teach Australians about parrots and their suitability for official recognition as pet therapy animals.
Manko’s breeder. BK Aviaries of Queensland (@bkaviaries (IG)), an ethical breeder, had witnessed and researched birds as animal therapy support for individuals with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), an anxiety diagnosis often additionally co-occuring with depression. BK Aviaries provided baby Manko to Katheryn and her family, believing Manko could assist them navigate the emotional and behavioral hurdles they faced after experiencing severe domestic violence and abuse.
Unfortunately, Australia currently only recognizes dogs as pet therapy animals, despite the many downsides: not all housing situations allow dogs; people often have dog allergies; dogs are short-lived and can disturb neighbors. Manko knows his longevity, cheerfulness, and endearing sociability make him equal to or, for diverse people in certain circumstances, superior to a dog therapy companion. Manko’s mission is nothing other than achieving the recognition of parrots as pet therapy animals in Australia.
Katheryn also organizes social and cultural events for Brisbane Bird Social Club (@_bbsc_/@birdsocialsoz (IG)): whether the birds meet at a parrot-friendly cafe, on the beach or, in a studio to model for a children’s art lesson, Manko and Katheryn strive to raise awareness of parrots both as pets and as companion therapy animals. Manko’s modeling fees fund assistance to individuals with PTSD in financial distress.
Another dynamic duo engaged in raising bird awareness is Will and Matty Gladstone of The Blue Feet Foundation (@thebluefeetfoundation (IG)) — the two boys are on a mission to save birds — the blue-footed booby, specifically. Together the Gladstones manage a great aid vehicle, which sells blue-footed booby socks and hands the proceeds over to Galapagos Conservancy (@galapagosconservancy (IG)), which applies the funds exclusively to its blue-footed booby programs.
Will originated the idea after learning in fifth grade that the Galapagos blue-footed booby population had declined 50% in the last 60 years. Now in eighth grade, Will has had help from his younger brother Matty, now ten. The boys sourced their signature blue socks from China and established an Instagram presence. Within three months Will and Matty had attracted that threshold following that got orders started. And the orders have just kept coming: tall stacks of shipped socks line their family room walls. Orders are now so voluminous, the boys prepackage shipments in their spare time. The boys brief Facebook presence brought such overwhelming business they had to delete their page t page to keep up with their studies.
As reported by Points of Light, in 2017 Will and Matty helped fund a trip to the Galapagos for Prof. David J. Anderson of Wake Forest University. While there, Dr. Anderson, a foremost expert in the blue-footed booby worked the blue-footed booby’s population decline. By August of this year, the Gladstones had contributed over $40,000 to Galapagos Conservancy. In September Will and Matty traveled to Washington, DC to receive Presidential Environmental Education Awards. The Gladstones trademark socks are covering the world in blue– they have shipped to all fifty states and 39 foreign countries! Thanks to ten-year-old Lithuanian birdwatcher Liepa (@liepa_birdwatching (IG)) for the great picture below!
We applaud Will and Matty for their commitment to a great cause, thank them for teaching us more about the blue-footed booty, and wish them the best with their studies!
Peter Corbeau, trainer of Taking Wing Consulting, (@takingwingconsulting (IG)) only speaks with great reserve about free-flight: it’s not for every fid, nor for every parront. Erect in posture, an artiste in @CirqueMacabre (IG), Peter exhibits that high level of self-awareness and presence of mind training animals that only experienced trainers can. Watch the video again, watch the self-control of his body language. Peter knows well that every gesture, every noise sends an implicit positive or negative reinforcement to the animals around us.
Growing up surrounded by animals in Washington state, Peter was, figuratively, baptized into Orca whale worship at birth. However, in third grade, when a wild owl visited the class, Peter underwent immediate conversion. After that it was all about birds, something in the movement of birds entranced him. Peter’s fascination with birds — training them — has only grown with time. First it was the flock of parakeets, or “how to juggle budgies” coordinating positive reinforcement to cue to multiple flitting birds.
Peter was a reader early on, researching topics that attracted him, learning vicariously from great trainers working with zoo animals and open-ocean dolphins, and in falconry — “trainers that have no option but to have bullet-proof relationships with their learners because they could just disappear and never come back.” From such teachers Peter distilled the fundamental lesson that “excessive use of punishment, negative reinforcement and coercion” have too much negative fall out to pursue. Pressuring a bird’s belly to motivate it to step on a stick is an example of negative reinforcement: the stimulus is removed once the animal performs the desired behavior. This becomes counter-productive as the bird learns to anticipate the stimulus, because it always only precedes the desired behavior, the bird will merely avoid the stimulus. Carrying it one step further, negative reinforcement is applied continuously so the bird devises a reactive behavior, like biting you. As you start anticipating the biting, the bird learns how to bite without giving advance warning. Miraculously, you’ve now created a biting bird! Similarly, some days just aren’t right for training. When Peter senses Milo or another bird is “off”, a break is advised. Most recently Peter’s 21-year-old blue-fronted Amazon was exhibiting reactive behaviors so the Peter gave him a break from training. as training is potentially stressful.
Peter’s interest in falconry led him to several meets and hunts. Watching the techniques, Peter resolved to free-flight train a parrot using different principles, which he soon did. Peter favors intensive indoor flight-training prior to outdoor attempts utilizing the same spatial skills as he would use when training a walking or climbing bird, beckoning with voice for them to “come to me” from out of sight, for instance from around a corner. Teaching flight is the same in Peter’s eyes as walking or climbing: it’s just a variation on “come to me.”
Peter formalized his training, studying applied behavior analysis (ABA) through BehaviorWorks, with Dr. Susan Friedman, a Utah State University psychology professor, and trains both remotely and in person though he has a strong preference for IRL training. Peter trains a variety of animals using ABA, but birds remain his passion. For all his love of free-flying Milo, Peter does not consult on free-flight training, stressing that free-flight is only appropriate with certain combinations of bird and parront. Its dangers are simply too great for people who are not particularly observant of their birds and responsive to their behavior.
“Calm, everything gonna be fun!” Arga (@noegie_arga (IG)) captions his account with these words. Arga lives in Indonesia, where there is a longstanding tradition of free-flight predating Applied Behavior methods. Arga discovered birds just four years ago, beginning with budgies because in Indonesia budgies are inexpensive, less than $1. In 2016 he got his first macaw, the military macaw below named Amore and readily learned free-flight.
Arga makes free flight sound so easy. The training goes down to the basics — a bird for free-flight is handfed always and gets over 30 minutes per day quality time with its parront. After the parrot is calm and easy to handle, indoor flight training comes first, progressing from a simple “come to me” command through “boomerang” and “blocking” skills which I hope to clarify in the next issue.
First efforts outdoors use a harness, practicing “come to me” safely. After that, the bird is “thrown”, as demonstrated in the below video for free-flight.
On YouTube at @Ceppy Tri you can watch longer videos of Indonesian flight. Indonesians find free-flight a social occasion and will group en masse, providing additional protection to their birds in numbers. The technique of “throwing” the bird demonstrated above by Arga illustrates well the unique technique. You can also see more Indonesian free flight by following #indonesianparrotlovers. We also look forward to interviewing Rusty and Friends (@mybirdsdiary (IG)), from a more northern region of Indonesia, Sulawesi., with her free-flighted conures (see below).