Danny Sigmond, now the Parrot Festival Director, first attended ParrotFestival 2008, having acquired his first bird — a sun conure — the year before. The excitement of Parrot Festival gripped Danny from that moment. Danny’s selectively, prudently acquired a few more birds — a parrotlet, a scarlet rescue macaw, a gold-capped conure, a green-cheek conure; Danny built a bird-toy business. In time, Danny served on the Board of Directors of the National Parrot Rescue and Parrot Foundation, the nonprofit which organizes Parrot Festival. The annual conference happens each “full” final weekend — Friday through Sunday — of January. Parrot Festival is for anyone inquisitive about birds because “everyone has a role to play in conservation.”
Danny describes the three-day Houston event as “the most joyous parrot gathering in the world.” Parrot Festival fills the hotel convention center — consolidating a universe of bird people from the pellet-millet dust haze of their geographically dispersed lives. An Expo Hall lined with booths allows ready access to representatives of bird organizations and projects, like Feathers for Native Americans, which which we feature this issue on the Horus page. Vendors booths line the hallways. Meals are taken together, and there the diverse community finds its deepest identity and greatest solidarity
Each Parrot Festival features an endangered parrot species. This year the featured parrot is the much loved blue-throated macaw (ara glaucogularis). Bennett Hennessey of American Bird Conservancy (ABC), will present a seminar on its joint conservation efforts with Bolivia’s Asociacion Armonia blue-throated macaw project. (Organizations supporting this Barba Azul Reserve project include International Conservation Fund of Canada, IUCN NL / SPN (sponsored by the Netherlands Postcode Lottery), Loro Parque Fundación, Rainforest Trust, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act Grants Program, Robert Wilson Charitable Trust, and World Land Trust.) A “museum-like” blue-throated macaw exhibit and other activities are planned.
Think of your colleagues at work. Those days when you burst with the thrill of your parrot’s latest stunt. Your co-workers stare at you, uncomprehendingly, as you burst with pride. They later speculate at the water cooler about the psychaoactive substances you might have ingested at breakfast. At the Festival, on the other hand, everybody is just high on contagious birdlove endorphins. The excitement circulates palpably, as parronts, vets, zoologists, trainers, toymakers, shop owners, conservationists, field researchers, aviculturists and rescue workers share, learn and share again. This is how the phoenix rises, this is how the American bird community rejuvenates and reinvigorates itself annually.
Brainchild of Houston’s The Two Lovebirds club, which hosted the first Parrot Festival in 1999, the National Parrot Rescue and Parrot Foundation has a two-fold mission: to rescue parrots locally and to educate parronts, future parronts, and avian organizations.
In prior years, the rescue has dominated the 501(c)(3) non-profit’s efforts, with a stand-alone facility, which housed around 100 parrots. However, after the individual running the facility retired, efforts scaled back to maintaining a population of perhaps ten rescue parrots. Meanwhile the Parrot Festival effort opened throttle.
Each year the Parrot Festival seeks to represent all interests in the avian community, with representative speakers from the following categories: conservation scientists, field researchers, veterinarians, rescue operators, behavior & enrichment experts, and aviculturists. For this years slate of speakers, click here.
Every year the speakers rank among the most accomplished and respected in their fields. With pride, we can tell you at Parrot Festival we will meet with speaker Jafet Valez, FWS, Conservation Director for the FWS Puerto Rican Parrot reserve, and with caiques aviculturist Cliff Edwards in preparation for a February issue featuring those species.
Hoping to see you at the next Parrot Festival if not this year’s!