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The good cheer of the winter holidays we hope has carried you into a happy new year! If you missed our 1st Annual Birbie Awards, you can meet the winners in this issue. Unusually, TheRoundUp publishes in two Parts this month — this first part, the customary social profiles and news, while the second, with a wry twist of punditry, carries cameos of Facebook’s Most Inspiring (Joan Rakrhra), The Citizenship Award (Adventures of Roku/@adventures_of_roku) — and Instagram”s Most Inspiring, Birds of a Father (@Bird_tails) and Best Trainer, Koa & Tiko (@koa_tiko). Interviews with Facebook Best Trainer Lara Joseph (@theanimalbehaviorcenter) and overall Best Aviculturist, Facebook’s Tony Silva appear under BirdsEyeView.
We thank each interviewee: each has shared insight and treasured times. Instagram’s My Flock of 11 (@fluffy.bird), a Citizenship Award nominee, has parronted countless birds; opening her home to rescues, she in the end can’t part from them. Repetitively. TWO species — Queen of Bavoria, or Golden, conure and the toco toucan– next are exemplified in Shantel’s Opie and ParrotrsRus’s Prince. But, first, our youngest contributor, Instagram’s Cairo GT (@lifewithcairo), whose parront performed an advanced first aid procedure in a pressing emergency (we do NOT recommend you replicate absent appropriate training!)
Cairo’s mom has gone upscale — moved to Hollywood! She has also added that second dreamt-of parrot, African grey Leia, who had DNA testing as we went to press. And just last week, well, Cairo’s mum inadvertently (temporarily) added a third bird, a pigeon found injured in the street, suffering a damaged wing and a ruptured air sac.
As a child, Cairo’s mum captured pigeons out of curiosity, for observation. This youthful curiosity stood Cairo’s mom in good stead. Seeing the ruptured air sac, a not uncommon injury, Cairo’s mum, a nursing student, resolved to treat it. The pigeon soft beak and puffy cere indicated its relative young age; its trusting amenability to handling suggested she might have been a pet, as did her plumage — fancy, as if selectively bred.
A nursing student, Cairo’s mum believed she could help although her avian vet was too far away: Cairo’s mom sought reliable guidance online. A first YouTube video demonstrated releasing air from the sac with a large (hollow) syringe needle, noting the importance of not striking the neck bone and of performing the procedure multiple times over subsequent hours and days. A second, half-hour aviculturist video cautioned against performing the procedure without in-person training from a vet or seasoned aviculturist but then elaborated, including disinfection procedures, and demonstrated. Nursing training in hand, counting on the pigeon’s continuing trust, Cairo’s mom successfully performed the procedure, repeating it about every eight hours for three days.
The lovely young pigeon recuperates in isolation from Cairo and Leia — proper and necessary quarantine. Grounded by its injured wing, the pigeon does not exhibit pain symptoms so Cairo’s mom hopes the pigeon will soon resume flying. As the area has several pigeon flocks, she also hopes a local flock will accept the young bird.
Cairo’s mum relied on nursing experience and instruction; without them she would not have tried such an invasive procedure. Fortunately, her education enabled her to select effective guidance. If you have not been trained in person by a vet or experienced aviculturist in this procedure, take the pigeon to a vet instead of attempting it yourself. It is far too easy to select ERRONEOUS or MISLEADING information on social media; without appropriate education one lacks ability to evaluate online resources.
Whether at the Instagram @tweety.n.friends or @fluffy.bird (My Flock of 11) account, or the Tweety and Friends Facebook page. visitors feel strangely at home, as if welcomed into a large family. A nominee for The Citizenship Birbie, My Flock of 11 gets my vote for Best Managed Account. With a following of nearly 22k, and another 18k at the Tweety Insta account, My Flock of 11 still responds to every comment under every post kindly and graciously. And these two accounts are very involved in Instabird community, with a patience for DMs even. Even as she recuperates from open heart surgery, My Flock of 11’s followers feel welcomed and nurtured, or as a pastor might say, “fed.”
It’s not just My Flock of 11’s heart of gold or her cozy, clean, bird-chirp-filled home. It’s that most of her birds, Tweety, her paramount love, included, are re-homers or rescues. Raised in a budgie and finch-filled home, she became involved in animal rescue. Her knowledge of and fondness for birds means the rescue community kept referring needy birds to her. And she loved each foster too much ever to allow its departure.
The @fluffy.bird account is the original flock account, named after
The Tweety and Friends account, which first featured Tweety, the Talking Parakeet (RIP 2017), now features budgies Sunny and Gazoo and parrotlets Bloo and Zazul; the Flock of 11 account includes all the birds but shows more oftlarger birds like award-winning duet singers, Quaker Kiki and dilute greencheek Kaiyoshi; Kaiyoshi’s dilute cousin, Yaro; Senegal Lucky; gold capped conure Neapolitan; and African grey Sadie.
Tweety, already talking at one year when his parront rescued him from the floor of a cage, spoke words in both English and Spanish. Tweety’s vocabulary grew the more his parront spoke with him, which encouraged her to speak with each parrot as part of its daily enrichment. About half of the flock does speak, though not with Tweety’s panache and charm. While parronts strive not to favor one fid over another, there simply are bird companions that move one more deeply and indelibly than the others. That would be Tweety. Tweety’s mum misses him still. Many of us can relate, no doubt.
Facebook’s Shantel Telly Byrd is a woman of noble generosity, opening her parrot paradise of a Sydney home to area parronts and fids in Facebook’s Sydney Birdie Meet Ups. Shantel boards parrots as Yoshi’s Feathered Retreat, and has a flock of rescues to boot! Today, we bring you Opie, Shantel’s “clown” of a 21-month golden conure, or Queen of Bavaria conure.
With a CITES Appendix I endangered listing, golden conures’ classification limits their availability. Yet for years Shantel, who, with her father, grew up cultivating sunflower and other birdie plants to feed the wild birds, saved money “just in case.” And opportunity knocked.
Opie was three months old when Shantel brought him home. As you can see below, Opie already sported a blind eye, blinded by a tumour. Shantel’s avian vet recommended an opthalmologist vet, and surgery removed the tumor that first year. Successfully. The tumor has not returned, and Shantel remains hopeful.
A zoology student focused on conservation breeding, as a parront Shantel provides the best life she can to each fid. Most of Shantel’s parrots are trained and trustworthily free-range, most get along with each other; all receive a raw food diet. The home, as decked out for a recent Sydney meetup (above), sports an enriching environment par excellence.
Opie is, as Shantel describes him, “an amazing pet. . . honestly a big clown.” Opie and Monkey share a large cage. While macaw Monkey is so much larger, Opie in fact helped wean Monkey! If Shantel, “apple” of Opie’s good eye, is not around, Opie keeps himself content in Monkey’s company. But one senses that nothing is so fun as playing in Shantel’s hair. Opie is highly affectionate, very personable, and puts Shantel at the center of his world.
Mrs. P of Instagram’s Parrotsrus–Our Life (@parrotsrus), parront to five lively parrots — African grey Kramer (24), hyacinth macaws Hannibal (20) and Curacao (4), harlequin macaw Versace (4) and now baby toco toucan Prince — ironically appears in this month’s issue rather than last month’s, where we had planned to feature Curacao and Hannibal along with other hyacinths. The fortuitous irony is this: Mrs. P exemplifies traits in common with many of the Birbie Award winners featured this month, as well as modeling behaviors they recommend.
Award winners tended to have childhood experience with birds that gave them familiarity — empathy with and intuition about birds — smoothing adult bird ownership. Thus, when Mrs. P was four or five, her uncle rescued a wild myna, a starling species, a passerine. Mrs. P’s uncle built the myna an outdoor aviary and spent afternoons talking with it. In the end the myna spoke. Startled and enchanted, young Mrs. P would never forget when the bird greeted her with “Hello!” Enamored from that moment on, when Lou later learned the myna had escaped the aviary, a deep longing to connect with birds arose within, remaining with her even today.
“Living her dream” by disciplined years of setting and achieving goals, Mrs. P has taken to heart a valuable parrot reality: Our understanding of each parrot species’ proper diet has mushroomed in the last twenty years, dramatically extending captive-bred birds’ longevity. Mrs. P has a mission and ministry: to educate about cutting-edge avian nutrition. Of course, Mrs. P spreads the word about toucans’ extraordinary dietary needs by posting about Prince, a toco toucan. From meal worms as protein source and training treat to the low-iron, low vitamin C fruits safe for toucans. (See Jason Crean’s raw whole food resources;see alsoour Gen(i)us page for more information on the toucan diet: toucans readily absorb amounts of iron that are toxic to them).
ParrotsRus has a large following, understandably. Handsome Kramer, at age 24, leads the pack, making merry at the aphorism that if you buy a parrot you buy a 5-year-old for life who never grows up or gets a job: Kramer has a “job”, he appears on a promotional page for Tops organic foods, as his food preferences within his science-based diet inspired two Tops’ products.
Her lovely long blond hair flowing smoothly down as she presents via video post or livestream, Mrs. P, a dedicated healthcare professional, understands the importance of scientific research and current findings. Thus, for Prince’s diet she consults regularly with Jason Crean (also @beaksbirdhouse), biologist, zoo consultant, Certified Level II Aviculturist, and owner of Beaks Birdhouse. Mrs. P is a model of the sort of responsible bird owner our Birbie Award winner Tony Silva, Best Aviculturist advocates. (See also Tony’s interview in BirdsEyeView): she knows the recent history of birds, how in the 1970s and 1980s, with the amassed post-World War II wealth and Baby Boomer enthusiasm, people bought pet parrots as never before. Yet, in that period, the parrots often died young from lack of appropriate nutrition or developed negative behaviors for want of proper enrichment, stimulation and training. And did you realize that pellets only became commercially available in the 1980s?!
Mrs. P stays abreast of the best in avian behavior science as a member of Birbie Award winner Lara Joseph’s Parrot Project. (See also our interview with Lara, at BirdsEyeView). As a member of the Parrot Project, Mrs P interacts with a foremost ABA-certified avian specialists who helps develop strategies for preventing or retraining parrot misconduct.
If you don’t already follow @Parrotsrus, drop by and enjoy the colorful videos and useful livestream — most recently she presented a livestream collaboration with Jason Crean on nutrition and no doubt plans future expert sessions! Thank you, Mrs. P, for your commitment to the birds of our lives!