As @BirbObserver recognizes excellence in 2018 with the 1st Annual Birbie Awards, propriety dictates — and the heart cries out! — that we recognize Mitchell Knox and his unparalleled contributions to the Facebook Avian community: Mitchell Knox is the founder of the largest Facebook bird group: Macaw and Other Parrots, which currently boasts over 21,000 members worldwide.

At the end of last year, after nearly six years, Mitchell, Group Admin and founder, moved onto other activities and responsibilities, passing his role as one of three Admins to Richard James Wiper, to hold down the fort along with Ambra Louvier and Carol Zelenko.

The prehistory of the group begins in 2009, when Mitch and his then-wife, who desperately wanted a parrot, bought the long-desired house of their dreams. After years of refusing the wife’s requests for a parrot, Mitch brought a 5-month greenwing macaw home to her in a cage one day. As Mitch summed up, “I had no knowledge of macaws — I thought it would just be a pretty bird in a cage.”

Engaged not caged! (Courtesy of Mitch Knox)
Engaged not caged! (Courtesy of Mitch Knox)

However, Mitch had a strong visceral reaction to the sight of that macaw locked in the cage: Mitch began opening the cage door and letting the greenwing out to fly around the house. Soon delving into any and all available parrot books and joining the then-available Facebook groups, Mitch sought to learn all he could to best fulfill the new responsibility he had taken on with this baby macaw.

Facebook groups, then as ever prone to descend to the least favorable denominator, Mitch started his own group with “a few sensible people from whom [he] could learn.” From the beginning, Mitch developed the practice of reviewing each member request and each post, anticipating that at most the group would number 50 members. With a few basic ground rules to encourage only positive interaction, the group soon blossomed due to its reputation as a fun group with a healthy learning and social environment, which Mitch’s oversight provided. At its largest, even now, the group limits itself to just three very-committed Admins.

As Mitch’s knowledge took off, so did the lifestyle of that greenwing — within a year he was joined by a second macaw. By then Mitch had converted the conservatory into an indoor aviary, added an adjoining outdoor aviary and enclosed the entire backyard in netting for safe free time. While Mitch did try free-flight with his birds, Rainbow, the better flyer, still preferred to sit on Mitch’s shoulder as he jaunted around town. Mitch became known locally as “the parrot man.”

In 2016, Facebook designated Mitch a ‘Power Admin,’ and Mitch advised other groups’ Admins how better to develop and manage their groups. Our Facebook avian community has certainly benefited from Mitch’s generous contribution of his time and skills!

A published author with yet much ahead of him, now that his birds are living with trusted Admin Richard Wiper, Mitch finishes off details marketing his house,  writes a Musical and shakes it up with Salsa dancing.

What a grace and gift — a legacy — Mitch left for the rest of us  — a safe, fun environment in which to learn about macaws and share our experiences. Bravo, Mitch! Thank you! Cheerio!

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