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TheRoundUp Aug 18: George, bright budgie bearing the gift of Joy

Sometimes you run across an Instagram account which takes your breath away. That’s the experience I had on first discovering @rosie_and_george_the_budgie (IG). If you live near Hyde Park, you may have already met Rosie, George and Rosie’s daughter on their daily walk. If you’re ever in Hyde Park and spot them, be sure to greet them and introduce yourself!

Rosie recently celebrated her ninetieth birthday. As Rosie’s daughter got George for Rosie on her 85th birthday, it was also George’s Fifth Gotcha Day!

George beams at Rosie on her 90th Birdthday, and Rosie beams right back! (Courtesy of Rosie_and_george_the_budgie (IG))

Scoliosis and Alzheimer’s pose daily challenges for Rosie. It is George, chirping tunes, chattering banter, an active participant in the family, who hastens Rosie to waken in the morning and overcome her daunting hurdles. George uplifts the entire household with good cheer and hope, boundless gifts for living. The affection between Rosie and George warms the heart and gentles spirits. Even as Rosie naps, George is inclined to perch attentively beside her.

Earlier, when Rosie and daughter took their daily constitutional in nearby Hyde Park without George, Rosie would worry for George. Now, Georgie joins them in his travel cage. The family takes in the fresh air and park beauty together. Even on drizzly days the three make their circuit, Rosie sporting a bright pink poncho, George in his travel cage on her lap, and Rosie’s daughter, scrambling to hold the umbrella over the two while pushing Rosie’s wheelchair, a veritable Gene Kelley — dancing, and singing, in the rain.

A now third generation of budgie-keeping family, Rosie’s daughter shares that “People underestimate budgies.” George remains free at home, save at night. George has a large vocabulary and entire song lyrics memorized.

Rosie and her daughter even travel with George in tow. George’s accoutrements and bags outnumber even Rosie’s. Driving, George sits in his travel cage, between the front seats, both for camaraderie and the view. At the first hotel the family stayed in, the staff looked askance and mentioned fumigating the room afterward. At visit’s end, they apologized of course, as there was no reason to fumigate.

This week Coco and Blue (@featherless_budgie_coco (IG)) share the limelight with Rose and Georgie. Both born in 2016, full feathered — Coco a brilliant yellow, Blue as blue as now– they moved in with their current owner when stress from the original owners’ cats likely triggered manifestations of psittacine beak and feather disease (pbfd) in Coco. Her owner explains: “This is a viral disease that affects her feathers, beak and claws. She’ll never get back her feathers.”

Pbfd virus, with neither effective treatment nor a vaccine available currently, can affect internal organs and increases the chances for opportunistic infections to occur. Despite the odds, Coco’s ready to celebrate a milestone 2.5th birthday with style and panache. Never mind that she can’t fly; she climbs like a mountaineer — and why walk, sister, when you were born to strut?!

And when it’s time to refuel for another day and night of diva-tude, Blue’s no fool. He knows to step back from the feeding dish and give Coco plenty of elbow room. Ever at her side otherwise, he’s true Blue to his ward and consort.

Coco’s no quitter. “She still thinks she can fly. When I have her on my finger and she sees Blue flying around, she just spreads her little chicken wings and she goes for it. Of course she falls… but she never gives up. When I lift up my hand with her on my finger, and run through the living room, she loves it! It’s like flying for her.”

Coco's Garden Adventure (courtesy @featherless_budgie_coco (IG))
Coco’s Garden Adventure (courtesy @featherless_budgie_coco (IG))

Coco recently enjoyed an outing in this cheery garden bursting with summertime flowers. Meanwhile, her British cousins have been chatting it up merrily in the parks.

London’s parks excel in hosting birds, not just Koko (@koko_in_London (IG)) and George, but also Koko’s wild cousin Indian ringnecks. Anika Shatara (FB) / (@laala_the_banana (IG)) regularly enjoys the company of semi-tame ringnecks in Kensington Gardens. Numerous flocks of ringnecks exist in the UK, but only the Kensington Garden flock lights on people. According to tradition, that flock descends from birds initially gifted by India to the British Empire. All the birds are green, as such is the wild species. Golden ringnecks like Laala and blue ringnecks like her friend Cameron, currently visiting Laala, are genetic developments in captive-bred birds.

Koko (@koko_in_london) has taken the lead in London for actualizing online friendships IRL. Down Under, a new style of bird socialization is taking off under the leadership of Adrienne Bennett (FB), the bird meet-up. Adrienne rents a large room each month, outfits it with plastic floor coverings, any necessary window protections, perches and chop. Publicized only online in Facebook groups, the monthly Melbourne meet-up has taken off. Bird owners must present documentation of recent vet exams and disease testing.

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Adrienne has helped Clive Willgoss (FB) and Ann-Sophie Salomez (FB) get meet ups off the ground in New Zealand as well.

On a personal note I and @budgiebrigade are interested in starting a mid-Atlantic meet up on the US East Coast. Preliminary discussions with avian experts suggest using a species-specific list of disease testing as an entry requirement. Such lists would vary by location as species-prevalent diseases geographically vary. For instance, in the US budgies may carry chlamydia so a swab test, rather than blood test, would be most important prior to the meet-up.

Of course, with bird meet-ups, indoor flight training is very helpful. As Don Scott, founder of Chloe Sanctuary (see the Chloe Sanctuary feature on our No Room at the Inn page), points out, captive-bred birds are “autistic” flyers with diminished instinctual reflexes and so need both training and supervision. Cairo’s mom (@lifewithcairo (IG)) has busied herself with this in hand-raising this three-month yellow-sided conure.

With a family history with birds, Cairo’s mom planned on getting a grey of about eleven or twelve weeks yet, when her trusted breeder showed her one- month Cairo, she fell in love with the baby conure. She met Cairo’s parents and learned their blood lines were healthy, with no in-breeding. Never having hand-fed a bird, Cairo’s breeder carefully trained her. This is key: improper technique can result in crop infection and death, though this poses less risk with smaller-crop birds like cockatiels.

Now three months, Cairo has had DNA testing and is a confirmed boy. Cairo is free-flighted throughout his parront’s two-story home. He can only safely do so through training. Cairo’s mom is part of a new generation of bird owners who do not compromise on maximizing safe freedom for their fids. Her favorite resource is @wingsNpaws (IG) / YouTube. Consistent with Cairo’s mom philosophy, training programs based on operant conditioning aim to teach good decision-making rather than dictate behaviour.

Cairo shares the home with asociable Budgie Becky, a timid parakeet who prefers to stay in her cage; his mom still contemplates adding a grey to the family.

While excellent training videos may be found online, there’s nothing quite so helpful and enjoyable as real-life training. Last week our regional parrot rescue, Phoenix Landing, offered a two-hour introductory clicker training course in the upstairs of our exotic vet’s office. The opportunity to ask questions and to meet other parronts locally were invaluable.

Zoos developed clicker training to better manage captive wildlife, which means, of course, it is effective even with birds not hand-raised. Effective methods of clicker-training are founded on scientific principles of operant conditioning. Methods and teaching improve over time: when I first tried clicker-training about fifteen years ago, I largely failed: no one carefully broke down the initial steps of training myself accurately to mark desired behavior with a synchronous click, and no one mentioned needing to train the animal to expect a treat contemporaneous with a click BEFORE introducing desired behaviors. Melanie Phung, the wonderfully thoughtful instructor, did cover these techniques. Additionally, Melanie suggested target stick training as a first “trick”. As you can see in the following video from parrotwizard.com, you can then use the target stick as a tool in training further behaviors.

Importantly, regular training deepens the trust between bird and parront. As Melanie points out, training sessions resemble deposits in a banking account. An emergency, when a bird may get handled more roughly than usual, acts like a withdrawal: it does not empty the account, but you will want to replenish it.

Fids need engagement and challenge for good health. Most of us choose toys, which most of the fids destroy joyously. The owner of Kataki Sales (FB) (@hootnhollerbirdtoys (IG)) has had birds since childhood and now has blue and gold macaw Loopey, rainbow parakeets Skittles and Sprinkles, and four honeycreepers. The size diversity across the flock enables testing of toys for different shapes and habits. Hoot N Holler fashions its toys according to the motto, “Enjoy and Destroy.”

While owners may imagine they want indestructible toys, birds crave shredding and destroying, mimicry of instincts for foraging and nesting. Shredding toys keep beaks trim and keeps boredom and behavior like plucking at bay. Most of Hoot N Holler’s toys are “designed so people can easily hide nuts or seeds” in them, effectively teaching birds to play on their own.

Kataki Sales owner home schools her two children and manufactures and stores her products on site in a separate, bird-free building. Her beloved father passed last Thanksgiving, leaving her his tools. She wanted to commemorate him, which she does in the store’s logo and very existence. Often donating toys to rescues for auctions, she also eagerly hears suggestions, new ideas and customer feedback. “There’s no better feeling than when you have a customer email you a picture of their bird enjoying your toy.”

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July 15, 2018: Summer Swelter

Belated Happy Canada Day, Independence Day and Bastille Day to our North American and French readers! A summer hotter than usual in the Northern hemisphere—fids bathe relentlessly to stay cool.

Thank you to the kind individuals who granted us interviews, especially Gone to Nest Aviary (@gonetonestaviary (IG)), Chris Biro of Liberty Wings flight school and The Pirate’s Parrot Show (FB), Haaike Barnard (FB), Straus Michalsky (@VaiManu IG)), Birdy and Bailey (@birdyandbailey (IG)) of Belgium, Rio (@rio_thehappybird (IG))), Budgie Brigade (@budgiebrigade (IG))and Rebekah Kennedy (@lory_adventures (IG)).

Haaike Barnard (FB), bird enthusiast and English teacher in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), trained originally in South Africa as a psychologist. He jokes, “Now I need one with all the birds.”

Haaike & Flock (Courtesy of Haaike Barnard (FB))

As an adolescent, Haaike kept budgies, adding cockatiels and “my first Timneh and U-2” as he matured. Already settled in the UAE, two years ago Haaike again hankered for bird companionship. Haaike met sweet Malika, a Congo African Grey (CAG), in a local petshop. A special bond immediately made itself felt. As Haaike explains, “The rest is history. They’re so vulnerable, and yet they choose to trust us.”

For Haaike, it appears birds are like potato chips — one just is not enough. In the modern way, Haaike went online with his Malika. Then “the tsunami started,” the flurry of requests that Haaike take in birds needing rescue. But, then, too, Haaike has rescued birds from “lives of hell in dingy pet shop corners.” As Haaike observes, while birds are popular pets in UAE, the country has “much room for improvement in regulating pet shops.”

Haaike currently has eleven birds — nine rescues, and only one is hand-raised.

Often people desire a hand-raised bird from a breeder, yet ambivalence towards breeders prevails with frightened anticipation that breeders may be “bird mills.” Relax! There ARE responsible breeders!

In her twenties, biochemist Donna (@gonetonestaviary (IG), with a passion for both birds and scientific inquiry, applied genetics to her flock to enhance desirable traits. Donna ran prospective owners through an intense vetting, requiring multiple visits before the determination whether the interested party qualified as an owner of her birds was made. More than once she ejected irate, would-be purchasers who felt themselves entitled to buy.

As a biochemist, Donna has equipment and know-how to test cultures for avian disease. She also performs her own bird DNA testing. How nice not to have to wait for the vets’ results as Birdy & Bailey’s parront did recently! Thankfully, as suspected, Birdy tested female and Bailey tested Male so she has a pair anyone would admire.

When a spinal injury prevented Donna from adequately caring for her flock, she grievingly rehomed her birds. Now, with grown son and two delightful maturing daughters, Donna has four fids: two Hahns macaws, Duck the Quaker, and an opaline red-rumped parrot named Twitter.

Donna always weighs birds’ safety against their drive to fly. Astute about avian adaptation, Donna has tailored the perfect modified wing clip for Twitter so the high-flying, speedy grass parakeet can fly safely despite the glass-windowed, two-story vaulted family room ceiling. Above a height of nine feet, windows predominate. Free flight would risk Twitter breaking his neck by smashing into a window so Donna lightly clips the outer two feathers of Twitter’s wings. With this modified clip, Twitter cannot fly above nine feet but can zoom about in lower spaces.

As area hawks, doves, toxic trees, and overhead power lines mean free outdoor flight is not practical, Twitter uses a harness. Ideally harness training begins at weaning, as a bird must allow its parront manually to extend his wing when looping the harness around it. The earlier a bird accepts this intimate handling, the better for harness training.

The path of free flight can be hazardous, but “a catastrophe is only failed preparation.” In Brazil, computer scientist Straus Michalsky (@vaiManu (IG)) as a young boy had rescued a wild white-eyed conure which had cavorted daily with area wild flocks yet returned nightly to an ample cage in Straus’s home. For Straus, a free-flighted bird coming when called felt as natural as eating or breathing.

As an adult, Straus grew enamored of macaws. However, in Brazil, owning a macaw first requires registration with the government and also a special permit. Registered and permitted, Straus devoured all available information on macaws while awaiting the arrival of baby blue and gold macaw Manuela. In the process, Straus discovered Chris Biro (@Chris Biro (YT) on YouTube) , whose free flight videos demonstrated good training, technique and site selection.

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Straus made mistakes of inexperience with Manu. Last year a hawk chased Manu off her flight path. Seeking safety in numbers as a guard against future hawk attacks, Straus arranged for two more baby macaws – Gilberto (Catalina macaw) and Dolores (scarlet macaw). Straus also enrolled in Chris Biro’s Skype classes, just as New Jersey’s Budgie Brigade (@budgiebrigade (IG)) and Brisbane’s Rebekah Kennedy (@lory_adventures (IG)) have recently done.

Chris Biro, pioneer and world-preeminent trainer of indoor/outdoor flight, established The Pirate’s Parrot Show (FB), Liberty Wings flight school, and Bird Recovery International (BRI), a non-profit seeking to stabilize wild bird populations, aiding by training captive-bred birds for free flight prior to release.

Human parachute-bird of the 82nd Airborne Division of the U.S. Army in the 1980’s, Chris Biro must have intuited something of birds’ drive to fly. Just after leaving the military, Chris met and bonded with his first bird, his sister’s conure. Chris just has a way with birds — and remarkable discipline to establish a popular national fair attraction and an internationally-esteemed free flight school within just a few short years. Chris has presented before the American Federation of Aviculture (AFA), the International Association of Avian Trainers and Educators (IAATE), the National Parrot Rescue and Preservation Foundation (NPRPF), and the Parrots International Symposium.

The Pirate’s Parrot Show, a free-flight educational extravaganza touring United States county and state fairs, features an authentic pirate ship, educational performances, and, of course, free-flying, free flight-trained birds. Notably, the birds are not returned to cages after their stage appearances but flock around the fairgrounds freely interacting fair attendees. The below YouTube video from the recent Lake Charles, Louisiana fair conveys the thrill ofhttps://youtu.be/ctALKzYogho these shows:

Chris’s Liberty Wings flight course strives to present the most humane, effective training methods and tools to maximize bird safety in indoor/outdoor free flight. Chris promotes the “equestrian” style of bird management which combines house cages with large outdoor flight aviaries so birds can fly instinctually throughout the day.

Below, as example, Rebekeh Kennedy (@lory_adventures) uses PVC and bird netting to erect a temporary practice aviary. For information on outdoor aviaries, check with Birdy & Bailey (@birdyandbailey (IG) — her father raises ibis, cranes, ducks, geese and swans with the help of large outdoor aviaries!

Chris has founded clubs and email lists, empowering owners of free flight birds to communicate, socialize and assist each another. For those wanting to explore and engage more, both the Brisbane Free Flight Club (@adventures_of_roku (IG)) and the Bay Area Free Flight Club (@West_wings_free_flight_club) have accessible Instagram accounts. Adventures of Roku, like Chris, has a helpful YouTube channel (@Adventures of Roku (YT)). While Rebekah Kennedy participates in the Brisbane club, New Jersey res Budgie Brigade consults with free flight colleagues from around the world through other media.

While folks may debate the value of social media, all can rejoice that a coincidental Twitter/Instagram cross-hash resulted in London’s lost Rio (@Rio_thehappybird (IG)) being spotted, caught and returned to his owner. Rio’s friend Koko (@Koko_in_London (IG)/@Zak Tinawi (FB)) put out the word of Rio’s unfortunate escape out on Instagram and plastered the lamp posts of London with posters. Meanwhile, friend and photographer Sya Groosman (@syaphotography (Tw)) tweeted Koko’s poster. Finally, when Christopher Wheeler (@stokeywheels (Tw)) tweeted a photo of a sun conure perched on a bush in front of his Stokey residence and tagged @stokeyupdates (Tw)), Sya and Chris got in touch and Rio’s amazed, dazed and thankful owner Gemma rejoiced in reunion with Rio. The Evening Standard (@evening.standard (IG) even published journalist Naomi Ackerman’s report of this tremendously fortuitous social media-aided rescue!

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Shortly after meeting Koko, I learned of his charming friendship with Rio: Koko had wanted an IRL bird friend for playdates. Rio reached out, and their owners started messaging by WhatsApp. The fids’ first playdate was a smashing success! Rio joined Koko in celebration at Koko’s of his third birthday earlier this year, and most recently Koko’s parronts hosted Rio while his parront vacationed. Friends are the best!

Rio thanks Koko for hospitality while his parront was out of town (Courtesy of @Koko_in_London (IG)).

Rio thanks Koko for hospitality while his parront was out of town (Courtesy of @Koko_in_London (IG)).

Until our next issue we wish you the best. Please also enjoy the Media Gallery below, which is part of TheRoundUp.


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Courtesy of Marc Lambert (FB)

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March 15: Wild March Winds & Wings

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By S Katherine Clarke

Spring is coming! Sagy of Bratislava (@sagy_greenforever (IG)) watches for it through the dark night while Koko (@koko_in_London (IG)) again tours Holland Park in search of ever more fans and followers (or love?)!

In Algeria, Ayoub Hadidi, Admin of the Facebook group BirdSquad, has perhaps not had to battle weather, but his flock of approximately twenty birds, many disabled or special needs, keep him busy.

Ayoub has a way with birds: untamed birds trust him readily. This talent saved his life. An “adrenaline junky” when in his early twenties, Ayoub loved racing his car in Algerian traffic and aspired to living in his car some day. Then one day, as he drove slowly around the corner to gas up, his first bird, Pikachu, a Lutino cockatiel, in the car with him, it struck him: “there’s so much more to enjoy in life than rushing it!”

Raised with pet birds on both sides of the family, Ayoub fell in love with Pikachu when his cousin offered the cockatiel for sale. Ayoub bought Pikachu. Pikachu, however, felt no particular indebtedness. Untamed and aggressive, Pikachu would hiss and bite at people passing by his cage. A hired animal trainer concluded that Pikachu was eternally untamable.

On joining Facebook bird groups. Ayoub admits he envied other members’ tame birds. Ayoub resolved to train Pikachu himself. . . Within several months, Pikachu was tame! Ayoub has a way with birds: an untamed cockatiel may now trust him within just a couple of hours.

Later, a friend brought Ayoub a sickly parrotlet named Flacko. As Flacko’s feathers started growing again with tender care, he befriended Pikachu. From then on, Ayoub sought out disabled, neglected and abused birds to heal because “the special needs ones, they are the most loving ever! They give every little bit of love back!” Whether a bird, even with urgent med care and top nutrition might be “at their last stages,” it “melts and warms” Ayoub’s heart that “they spend their last stages deeply loved and well-cared for.” BirbObserver offers Ayoub its condolences on the recent passing of Flacko, at a well-lived nine years of life.

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Ayoub also has an education mission. In Algeria, the longstanding tradition is to keep birds in locked cages, clip their wings, and feed them just sunflower seeds. Common pets, birds, especially the national bird, the goldfinch, grace many Algerian homes. Ayoub says his countrymen “grow up on wrong info and refuse to . . . educate themselves to the right way.” The goldfinch below passed house to house, as owners wearied trying to get his feathers to grow. In Ayoub’s capable hands, the bird starts to heal.

The story of Pi, ten-month-old cockatiel (@DaivaCoy (Tw)), with two fewer syllables to his name than Pikachu, is just beginning! Charming in those embarrassed moments, he would steal the show from the remainder of the flock if he could. A toddler inclined to break tail feathers, Pi always surprises with new stunts, such as beating his beak against his bowl and intoning a hissed, husky vocal. But the rest of the flock stole show at the 40th birthday party for Sid’s Dad.

Meet Coco Puff– her inspirational post from International Women’s Day is entirely in character! Named after Coco Chanel, the perfume magnate, Coco Puff (@cocopowerandgang (IG)), lives the strong, exemplary, beautiful life her parront hoped for her. Born with “bendy legs” and unable to fly, Coco met her mom when her mom picked up her three other birds from the sitter, who was also a breeder. Coco’s unfeathered body, her tummy and claws hanging down through the cage grate where she lay, stole her parront’s heart.

Though challenged, Coco lives a happy life in a cage with no grate but with soft fabrics that enable her to scoot around. Coco has learned to climb using her beak and one claw! Coco spends hours playing with her colorful toys. She particularly likes massages, being wrapped in a fleece blanket and biting her balsa wood blocks (and her parront!).

Coco will turn seven in May. Her bird companions are Norman the cockatiel, Bella the budgie and Milo the lovebird.

Down Under Suzy Lupton, Facebook winner of our #BirbLoveIs contest along with her beloved Rocky Tiel, recently caught wild sulfur-crested cockatoos interacting with Rocky’s off-stage call, which is first his “hello, hello” and then a warning cry.

Galahs frequently visit Suzy’s place, too.

Also in Australia, Benjamin Rosenzweig (@lumpnboy (Tw)) has created a wild cockatoo haven in his backyard over the last few years. Pigeons, ducks, lorikeets, corellas, galahs and other birds often join them as well. Located near La Trobe University’s Bundoora campus, which acts virtually as a “reserve” for birds, the backyard haven began with the simple act of putting out seed to attract wild lorikeets. The cockatoo flock approached warily, initially just a couple, then a couple at a time of a flock of about thirty.

Tappy, an early visitor, would tap on the window to seek the attention of Benjamin and his partner. Later, Blindy, peering through window and curtain, would also tap on the window to demand breakfast. Marginalized Messy, with a few deformities including a “messed up” crest, always with her beau, is the first and only cockatoo to learn her name. Patrick remains the only cockatoo who routinely stands on shoulders while the feed is distributed.

Benjamin shares several pointers: 1) keep the yard safe and clean, and 2) name the birds. Naming them allows you to distinguish and get to know the behaviors of a particular bird, whether or not the bird ever learns its name.

And, yes, in fact, wild lorikeets can be found in Australia. Just outside Brisbane, Rebekah Kennedy’s Emery (@lory_adventures (IG)) shows off her own jumping skills to the locals. (And you thought only caiques jumped — they’re just noisier about it!)

In other news, Alex (@AlexTheHonk (Tw)/@AlexTheHonkingBird (IG)) has hit true celebrity on YouTube, with a feature in AtlasObscura to his credit and his own line of merchandise. Alex has largely healed from his late wing injury and, though not raising the wing as high as before, flies unhampered by it. Kudos as well to Fluffy Bird Family’s Yaro, dilute green-cheeck conure, and Kiki, Quaker parrot, for their first place win in the Romance category of Penny’s Great Companion pet video competition (@fluffy.bird (IG)).

Happy third birthday to both Kaiyoshi, Yaro’s brother (@fluffy.bird (IG)) and Koko (@koko_in_london (IG))! Koko spent his birthday with friend Rio (@Rio_thehappybird (IG)), who brought presents! And happy 40th to Sid’s Dad (@SidTHEParrot (Tw))

Last issue BirbObserver reported on the #birddominion movement. By way of update, the emergence of Budgie Choir as a front organization for undercover operations has meant a flurry of auditions and skills testing. Ziggy outdid himself (@ziggy_n_flower (IG)/(Tw))Meanwhile, there is indication that the leading African greys Otto (@keelingrob (Tw)) Otis (@bluejaylover49 (Tw)), Alfie (@lauraallen55 (Tw)) and Sid mull alliances and counter-strategies. In particular, the birds scrutinize the new apparent alliance between humans and wild birds and question whether cats are enemies or objects of imitation.

On a more serious note, a matter of bird safety: BirbObserver’s Board has endorsed an Instagram petition asking Instagram to remove media portraying animal abuse and cruelty AND DECLARING ALL ANIMAL ABUSE as against its Community Standards – just as Instagram has declared with exotics trophy hunters’ selfies. Following the Easter campaigns not to buy chicks or other baby animals as Easter gifts, the petition supporters will intensify momentum to draw in signatures from throughout pet and animal social media communities.

The petition is in response to an incident in the global Instagram rabbit community in which an Iranian individual was torturing rabbits to death on posted video. Justice is being sought against this individual. As the incident caused grief and upset throughout that community, the petition seeks to disallow such disruption and attention-seeking showcasing of cruelty on the Instagram social media platform.

The next issue of BirbObserver will publish a Letter to the Editor from the authors of the petition. Additional information about the petition can be obtained from Instagram’s Haruyukibun (@haruyukibun (IG)).

Please also support programs to discourage the sale of rabbits, chicks and other birds as Easter pets.


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March 1: Blessed Be the Tie That Binds

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By S Katherine Clarke with Sarah Ludick

Welcome back to TheRoundUp! In the North, the weather warms; Down Under the lories feed on that “wet mix,” nectar-replacement therapy. . . milletsies, move over!

Most urgent matters first: Chico of @chicogreenleaf (IG) (Bahrain) and Grape of @two_red_beaks (IG) (Hessen, Germany) are missing. If you are in their areas, please help search for them. [For a happier story of a bird found, read on below!]

The URGENT FUNSTUFF: Fluffy Bird Family’s video of Yaro and Kiki (@Fluffy.bird (IG)) is in second place in Penny’s pet video contest: today is the final day for voting. Click here to vote.

As last issue’s rescue/adoption stories evoked strong, supportive interest, BirbObserver introduces @simplelife_seiko_san‘s (IG) Herman, a 27-year-old blue-fronted Amazon. Herman had lived at a Rhode Island avian sanctuary for more than ten years when Seiko San met him. Seiko San chose Herman from over 100 other birds as Herman greeted him nicely . . . and the shelter personnel advised that Herman had little hope of ultimate adoption — his last family returned him to the sanctuary after just two weeks.

Fundamentally, Herman distrusted people. Seiko San won Herman over with the most elegant and tasty chops imaginable! Seiko San did not dare to touch Herman for the first year, but six months ago Seiko San apprehensively reached out and touched Herman. Herman “was not angry at all.” Ever since then, Herman has let Seiko San touch him readily. Bird and parront have mutual accommodation: they respect each other’s boundaries.

Congratulations to Keito’s mom, BirbObserver, Inc.’s webmaster, QuarkyBirdy (@quarkybirdy (Tw)/(IG)) on her recent birthday. Congratulations to Leaf and Olaf for growing feathers right under Suni and Jojo’s beaks (@LagunaBirds (Tw)). Congratulations, too, to dear Scrappy and Ono (@eightisaflock (IG)) on their recent plastic egg exercise! (Scrappy was so tuckered out from feeding Ono as she diligently warmed their plastic eggs that the vet determined “generous regurgitation caused some nasal blockages”!)

Welcome to two new birds from afar: Dexter (@DexterTheBird (Tw)), from Ireland, and Puttu the Parakeet (@ImPuttu (Tw) from India!

Now age four, Dexter can say over 100 words, mimic the phone ringing, and sing. Fan of YouTube’s Disco the Parakeet, Dexter can repeat most of Disco’s phrases too! Inquisitive, outgoing and hyperactive, he has a close bond with his parronts — sitting on their hands, flying to their hands on command, and giving kisses (all on his own prerogative, of course!). Some evidence exists, however, which suggests Dexter has had recent interaction with the #birddominion movement. [See also below.]

Puttu is two years old and lives with a flock of five other budgies. A great lover of play, Puttu mimics the sounds around him and sings. Puttu loves baths and scrambled eggs; more importantly, he likes to share his happiness in life with others.

Outstanding Birding Account of the Year goes to Martin Cormican (@martinsbirdwatch (IG)), with well over 9,000 followers. Martin posts beautiful photos shot from the vicinity of his own feeders. Martin’s commentary below each precise photo invariably informs accurately and with spirit. Raised with budgies and pigeons, Martin came to birding photography when multiple sclerosis (MS) slowed him to the point of noticing, and cherishing, the birds in his own garden. These glimpses “resparked a forgotten passion” and the renewed interest in turn relieved pain from the MS. Martin began with just a few feeders, and it took the birds a while to discover them. He advises all beginners that patience is essential, and he shared that he studies the birds’ specific flight paths of appraoch to the feeders to determine the best position for his camera. In 2017, Martin, like many other birders in Britain, participated in the RSPB Great Bird Watch. [See Bird’s Eye View editorial this issue to learn more about the importance of this study.]

Mr. Archibaldd (@mr_archibaldd (IG)) went missing the evening of February 22 when, you guessed it, Dad was heating the “wet mix” (“spoiled birds!”) and the usually locked food doors were briefly open! With a team of ten for hours, until sunset, Archie’s dad beat at the bushes in the reserve behind the house. Archie was nowhere to be found. In the morning flyers went up in the neighborhood. Condolences and concerns from around the world found expression in the comments under this 12k follower account. Archie’s auntie found him mid-morning. . . perched on a bottle brush tree in a backyard two blocks behind the reserve. Ahem– the food doors shall be double-locked henceforth!

Meet Luna, a handsome and friendly male Indian ringneck (@luna_the_lunatic_parrot (IG). While in his bio Luna claims to “Own the World,” when our reporter questioned him about #birddominion, he did not respond. Most likely, Luna was preoccupied with taming his new “friend”, Jade, a larger, bossier Alexandrine parakeet, who moved in Chez Luna recently. Luna’s parront beams with pride over Luna’s initiatives toward Jade. Further, Luna appears most affectionately attached to his parronts and loves nothing more than spending time with them (though they do exile Luna to his room at mealtime because he can be disruptive at table).

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Caution: Remaining Content May Not be Appropriate for Your Birb

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As reported in the last issue, African grey Otto (@keelingrob (Tw)) recently launched a movement hashtagged #birdworlddominion. After BirbObserver‘s last RoundUp, Otto, by sleight of claw, switched the hashtag to #birddominion. BirbObserver did not miss a tweet! but continues to follow this fast-growing movement closely.

When Otto switched the hashtag, he cattily tweeted: “I think that @BirbObserver are doing their best to now suppress the story”! But BirbObserver reporters, we assure you, have pursued the disparate strands and threads relentlessly, faithfully to report this story today.

Otto’s advisors assemble in his boudoir post bath (Courtesy of trusted informant)

#birddominion reportedly has two security guards, African greys Jules from Off the Perch (@Bronson006 (Tw)) and Alfie (@LauraAllen55 (Tw)), as well as two escape car drivers (one being –who else but!!– Sid (@sidTHEparrot (Tw)); BirbObserver has not yethowever, identified the second driver.) [Editorial Note: The investigative reporters of BirbObserver have not, and will not, hack direct messages to obtain information!]

Otto’s recruiting beyond that initial circle of African greys started modestly with an overture (to the best of our knowledge) to budgie RingoStarr (@Georgieboysmum (Tw)), but Budgie Bouquet (@budgiebouquet (Tw/(IG)) burst in, volunteering as the Aviation squad. Shortly thereafter, for no apparent reason, Budgie Bouquet also launched Budgie Choir.

All manner of birds, some with both Twitter and Instagram accounts, have ties to Budgie Choir. BirbObserver has not obtained definitive lists of recruits either to the choir or Otto’s #birddominion, but red-crowned Amazon Lucky (@luckybirdbooks (Tw)/(IG)) and African greys Otis (@bluejaylover49 (Tw)) and Chiyome (@FlockisFamily (Tw), along

with the usual budgie suspects Teal and Levi (@FlockisFamily (Tw)) did not escape our reporters’ notice, nor did those unflappable cockatiels, Ziggy and Flower (@ziggy_n_flower (Tw)/(IG)), all of whom appear to have auditioned.

Other positions filled in #birddominion construction engineer (@Bronson006 (Tw)) (for “catapults”– [whether that includes the family cats is unclear]); smart phone comptroller (@DexterTheBird (Tw)), who mimics the phone ringing; and computer hacker, Bombi the Tiel’s Peachy (@BombiTiel (Tw), who inserts “millet” onto the computerized shopping list.

Given Petra the Grey’s YouTube trick of bossing Alexa around, you may want to reconsider the use of voice-activated devices in your household.

The group appears to have a secret wing sign: “Wings Up!” . . . or maybe now that it’s been decoded by BirbObserver, it may be “Claws up!”

BirbObserver investigative reporters on Instagram indicate that Budgie Bouquet’s bio states that the group is a recruiter for #birddominion.

While details of #birddominion activity on Instagram remain sketchy, this latest addition to the flock, Houston (@coqui_and_co (IG)) will no doubt attract the attention of #birddominion agents.

Houston, we have a problem. But don’t worry, . .. Say Hi to Houston, ground control! (Courtesy of @coqui_and_co (IG))

A reliable anonymous source suggests that the seemingly innocent Budgie Choir may, in fact, be an undercover ploy and future operation: Budgie Choir could advertise a performance and, while unsuspecting parronts attended, #birddominion terrorism or worse could erupt elsewhere.

This term #birddominion does lack in precision, and BirbObserver has diligently tracked it through Twitter. Otto has stated that the birds will bring the humans to their knees. There has been birb twitter about removing humans to the aviaries. Yet, birds like RingoStarr and Peachy (@BombiTiel (Tw)), have indicated that they would miss the scritching. One of the dangerous Budgie Bouquet flock claimed parronts would be very happy once removed to aviaries — due to #StockholmSyndrome. However, due to some fids addiction to scritches, divided loyalties may forever hamper the movement.

BirbObserver strives to keep you informed. Psst! The Media Gallery, below, is safe for all viewers.


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Feb. 15: A Fine, Fine Line?

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By S Katherine Clarke, with Sarah Ludick

Is there a Fine, Fine Line between a budgie’s fascination with mirrors and an African Grey’s plot for #birdworlddominion? In belated honor of Valentine’s Day, this issue of TheRoundUp explores birb self-love — in its hopefully healthy expression.

But, first, Congratulations to our Valentine’s Day #birbloveis tee-shirt & birdtoy giveaway winners: @Bluejaylover49 (Tw), @Skyelark_the_parakeet (IG), Suzy Lupton (FB) and, for the bird toy, @sidTHEparrot (Tw). . . Thank you to Lucky (@luckybirdbooks (Tw/IG)) for hosting a fab Valentine’s Day party on Twitter.

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Second, Congratulations & Best Wishes to Jumi Junaki (@jumijunaki (IG/FB)) upon her long-awaited adoption of Wish, blue and gold macaw resident of the Assam State Zoo and Botanical Gardens, whom Jumi named Wish because she Wished to adopt him! Four years of determination and three zoo superintendents later, Jumi has free access to, and unlimited interaction with, Wish; gives Wish toys and sings to him; and purchases his food under the Zoo’s Adoption Program. Although Wish is now Jumi’s, he remains at the Zoo, serving its Adoption Program’s goals. Through Wish’s adoption, Ms. Junaki seeks to raise India’s cultural awareness and appreciation of birds’ intrinsic value and complexity to win birds better treatment.

Next, Happy Hatch Day #11 to Grendel (@greybirdy (Tw)) and upcoming #24 to Chiyome (@FlockisFamily (Tw))! Belated Happy Birthday to birb parronts of @koko_in_london (IG) and @noora_par (IG; @nel.a.p.(IG)).

Now, about that Fine, Fine Line: Mirror-gazing budgies abound; but how many, like Stanley Bad Budgie (@mumofbadbudgie (Tw)), can hardly star in a new video because, when his mum Nikki pulls out the phone, he flies compulsively to the phone, pecking it until a prior Stanley video plays (repeatedly, as he chirrups and pecks appreciatively at the screen)? Nikki tries to expose Stanley to other birds’ videos, but Stanley insistently watches only his own and those of RIP Harry Birdie Bird (@HarrytheBirdie (Tw)) (May he Rest in Peace)!

What of Beethoven budgie (@Beethov93953891 (Tw)), who identifies so closely with his great German composer namesake?

Now, the intellectual history of narcissism presents self-love on a spectrum, stretching, on the one hand, from dangerous deficit, through healthy medium, and, ahem, to the final excess — the disorder of megalomania. In Ovid’s myth, the nymph Echo spurns young, amorous Narcissus, who then soothes his unrequited love by admiring his own reflection in a pool– until he falls in upon it, and drowns. Scholars have attributed narcissism to media stars, businessmen, politicians; certainly experts have speculated that notables like Napoleon, Nietzsche, and Hitler had delusional megalomania. So, is there a Fine, Fine Line, between healthy and unsafe self-love in our birbs? Or is it a question of gradations — or even unnamed dimensions — we see in our birbs?

Neglected and abused birds, after rescue, struggle against a self-esteem deficit — healthy self-love abstains from self-harm and lacks fear-filled aggression. Luna (@luna_the_rescue_grey (IG)) and caique Conan (@conan_thebarbarian (IG)) have both battled to make up such deficits.

Luna’s parronts long yearned for an African grey. They made the leap when Dad started working from home. They had known of Luna for several years, as her ignorant, abusive owner variously tried foisting her off on others. These prospective parronts waged a successful six-month campaign to adopt Luna, to save her from isolated days in a cold, dark warehouse. They ended the isolation punishments for plucking and the grotesque and ineffectual deterrent of applying Listerine to Luna. Luna now perches on her Dad’s shoulder while watching him work and listening to music (Prince is her favorite). Bilingual, Luna can chatter away mysteriously in Arabic. Charmingly, when she drops a poo-poo on the floor, she thanks her parronts for cleaning up after her! The pictures show Luna’s great new feather growth! New foods and toys — such novelty! — are introduced at this gentle girl’s pace.

Conan The Barbarian’s parront had volunteered at a bird rescue to learn her parrot species preferrence before adopting. When the rescue’s owner asked if she wanted a caique (the rescue lacked room), she visited Conan at his then-home. There Conan sat in a cage without perch or toy, with only a bowl of water and fruit pellets. Conan lacked interaction and sunlight; he was aggressive, untamed, and — most of all — scared! The cage was opened, and an apple slice offered. And Conan promptly shredded his future owner’s hand! She reminisced, “I knew then that I wanted to help him, and I brought him home with me that night.” Conan, once “the Barbarian,” is now a mischievous, “sweet and mostly well-behaved little clown.” Conan’s mom offers: “I know many people are afraid to adopt animals, but, if you give them a second chance and show them love, it’s amazing what you get in return.”

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Back to birb narcissism. What about eating habits? What will a budgie sacrifice for millet spray, Sid (@sidTHEparrot (Tw)) for a Yorkshire pudding, or Henry for his strawberry (@TardisParrot (Tw)), or Otis (@bluejaylover49 (Tw)) or Jules (@Bronson006 (Tw)) for their cheesies?

Consider African grey, Otto (@keelingrob & @Caithean (Tw)). February 7, 2018, Otto launched Stage 2 #birdworlddominion from the garden doorway, upon spotting smaller clay birds on fancy planters. Immediately, fellow African grey Otis tested his cage alarm, locked up and joined Otto undercover. African greys Sid (@sidTHEparrot (Tw)), Stanley Parrot OBE of #OllieAid fame (@ParrotStanley (Tw)), and Makena (@MakenaNut (Tw)) also signed on. [BirbObserver (@BirbObserver (Tw/IG/FB)) attended also, as War Correspondent]. Otto hatched plans.

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February 8, 2018, Otto was offered his first #MissionImpossible — to remove the nut from the top of his scary new cage while swinging from a favorite toy; three days later he took to hill walking to maintain fitness. . . . On February 13, budgies Levi and Teal (@FlockisFamily (Tw)) formed the base sleeper cell to, in Otto’s words, “bring the world to its knees and realise WE are the masters.”

Otis undertakes hill walking in preparation for #birdworlddominion (Courtesy of @keelingrob (Tw))

Then there are the macaws and lorikeets–where will they land in this Game of Thrones, with their broad wingspan and free flight? There’s @HeideNilson‘s (IG) blue and gold macaw, Nova, and her two hyacinth macaws, the brothers Shadow and Blue, in Sweden, where the law makes wing-clipping illegal and minimum macaw cage size must be at least 6.5 m2! Those are practiced flyers not to mess with! Further, they are birdie contortionists — they push their tails forward through their legs and scratch their heads with them!! Then there’s young Greenwing Frankie and her pal, blue and gold macaw Lulu (@Frankiesfollowing (IG/FB)) Down Under. Just give that girl some time (and attention with lots of hugs and scritches!) And what about Hans macaw Levi with the blue and golds Blu and Jazz (@featherbabiesflock (IG))? And don’t forget our free-flighted lory friends in Brisbane, Rebekah Kennedy’s black-capped Kai and red-breasted Emory (@lory_adventures (IG)). Wheaties, step aside!– These birds know about the Breakfast of Champions: with winning style, they forage amongst marbles to get their daily nectar-replacement therapy.

All eyes are on Otto and his team of African greys. Will ambition combined with over-reaching prove his undoing? Or will playful ingenuity prevail? That is the key, what the scholars don’t mention — play is a third dimension above and beyond the two-dimensional array of the narcissism spectrum.

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In Japan, while cockatiel Rico and flock’s (@four_wannabe_dinosaurs (IG)) parronts were away, an earthquake struck. Despite the remarkable petcare giver sending voluminous photos and taking copious notes, Rico’s parronts were unaware of the earthquake. They returned to a shaken bird with bleeding on the wings and blood feathers on the floor of the cage! The bleeding was stopped, and Rico is now well. Other birds in the area reportedly pluck blood feathers from earthquake distress.

The Japanese sometimes train their birds to step-up and do a shaking exercise after a quake to help deal with the stress. In the meantime, these Wannabe Dinosaurs will have travel cage at the ready in the event evacuation is ever required. In earthquake-prone regions, it is important to ensure that the base of the cage is secure against shaking and that nothing can readily fall upon it from above.

Toucan Zazu (@ZazutheIvoryBilledAracari (IG/FB)) continues a strong recovery from his emergency surgery for a ruptured trachea. Zazu’s final post-op check-up on March 9 will include bloodwork and radiographs under anaesthesia. His Mom Jess deeply appreciates your continuing support and offers Thank You notes, digital aracari prints, and Custom-made stuffed animals for various donation levels. Please contact her by DM/Messenger for further information. You can contribute to Zazu’s Gofundme campaign by clicking here.

Cockatoo Diva’s buddy Apollo (@divathecockatoo (IG)) recovers from endoscopic GI tract surgery for a suspected blockage. In fact, extreme inflammation gave the impression of blockage; his vet continues to search for the cause of inflammation. Meanwhile, Diva matures beautifully.

Media Gallery

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FEBRUARY 1, 2018

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By S. Katherine Clarke, with Sarah Ludick

Tomorrow is Groundhog Day in the US and Canada: if Punxotawny Phil, a species of large ground squirrel, sees his shadow on exiting his den, the Northern winter lasts another six weeks. If not, spring will be here soon. Frankly, this issue’s cheerful cockatiels tell me it’ll be an early spring.

Cockatiels are “little people stuffed in bird bodies,” says Susan K. (@fluff.n.blubber (IG)). In 2009 Susan’s then-fiance Matt treated her to b-day sushi and sake before letting her hit the pet store. Susan watched a hand-fed baby ‘tiel step onto Matt’s finger, and one hour later the couple emerged with baby cockatiels Meat and Dude. Are ‘tiels like ‘tater chips?. . . Two became a flock of seven.

Our birds ease winter confinement variously: Keito (@quarkybirdy (Tw)) and Oscar (@paulineporter16 (Tw)) commune via social media while Koko (@koko_in_London (IG)) and Rio (@rio_thehappybird (IG)) had their second IRL play date– with both rivalry and comradery. Koko and baby Rio met on Instagram and consult regularly about diet, training, etc. Maple (@MapletheTiel (Tw)), meanwhile, trains her parront in proper head-scritching.

Suni (@LagunaBirds (Tw)) passed winter days practicing hair dressing and then scaled The Eiffel Tower while Shiloh and Dixie (@ShilohTheConure (Tw) and @DixieTheCaique (Tw)) in the sunny South enjoyed brunch. Last, but not least, Peachy serenaded himself in the mirror while Bombi practiced downward birdie pose (@BombiTiel (Tw))

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One look at Courtney’s (Flockmaster Flex’s) (@eightisaflock (IG)) flock might scare a person away from birds: one bird mushroomed to 35. It happened this way: Cinnamon-pearled cockatiel Ono, Courtney’s first birb, was picky about friends. One-by-one, Courtney added seven male ‘tiels, until there was Scrappy.

Scrappy, a much-bullied, untamed cockatiel with malformed beak and crooked toe entranced with his cheery eyes and sweet song. Courtney rescued him, determined Scrappy never be bullied again. Scrappy stole Ono’s heart. But Courtney worried what Ono would do when Scrappy, now approximately 20, would die — Entrez Lennon, from @fluff.n.blubber’s flock! The bonds born on social media deepen with the exchanging and fostering of birds.

Courtney’s Zeferino (Portuguese for “wild west wind”), an untamed New Zealand kakariki, turns one this month. As Zef is still “skittish and distrustful,” Courtney hopes “with time and patience to get him to a place of mutual respect and [to] become friends.”

Down Under, birds can enjoy warmth and blossom relaxed– so long as their older brother doesn’t steal all their formula. Here Sundos just intended to help Safi, right (@featheredmonster (IG)).

Also down under, Alex (@AlexTheHonk (Tw)/@AlexTheHonkingBird (IG)), now 20, bemoaned his growing fragility when a strained shoulder ligament sent him via Uber to the vet, riding (silently for once!) in a box, his carrier unavailable. Son Dominic, meanwhile, conducted a screen test for their YouTube channel with the toaster.

Some birbs can’t resist the Uber fad, living it out even in fantasy. Perhaps Caiyo and Jin’s lively imaginations account for the mushrooming of their Instagram following, @happy.cockatiel.corner. Having “learned a lot from this Instagram community,” their mum remarks that Game-of-Thrones-singing Jin and cuddly Caiyo, like all birds, thrive when parronts “talk to them and keep them occupied with fun toys and fresh food.”

On a more serious note, the remaining cockatiel stories remind that education, adoption and rehoming are recurrent needs in our birb community. January was Bird Adoption month at the Parrot Education & Adoption Center (@PEACsandiego (Tw)), a 501(c)(3) organization in San Diego serving So Cal lost and unwanted medium to large parrots for over 21 years. PEAC evaluates newly arrived birds through fostering– rehabilitating, adopting out, or placing in qualified sanctuaries, as appropriate. Averaging 15-25 adoptions per year, PEAC’s time-tested adoption policies and procedures maximize a parrot’s long run happiness. Several people began PEAC’s required adoption curriculum in January and may adopt upon completion. Willow, January’s featured bird, has been fostered three years and overcome her plucking behavior. You can read her story here on Petfinder.

Kudos to umbrella cockatoo Harley and mom (@Harleythecockatoo (IG)), campaigning to raise awareness of parrots’ great need for committed parrontal time, for the lack thereof increases demand for adoptive services.

Willow was the featured January Adoption bird but remains available for adoption (Courtesy of @PEACsandiego (Tw))

Harley and her parront’s message could not be wiser or more heartfelt (Courtesy of @harleythecocatoo (IG))

Having a bird, says Harley’s mom, “is really like raising a child” — “exhausting because they ask a lot of time and a lot of energy.”

Shadow’s mom (@that_caique_shadow (IG)), wanting her first companion bird, did the legwork: she researched apartment-sized parrots beforehand: “It’s important to be as prepared as possible — all parrots come with pros and cons and require a lot of attention and dedication.” Shadow’s mom recommends joining online parrot/bird communities and forums as part of preparation and as continuing education.

Splay-legged Cody the Lovebird (@birdhism (Tw)) is a celebrity spokesbird of bird compassion. Living with mum Jen Budrock and nineteen birb siblings, more than half of whom are special needs, Cody preaches birdhism — “no matter our differences we can agree [and do what is right] out of love of birds.” January 21 Cody greeted fans at South West Florida Wildlife Center where Jen has extensively served as a volunteer, in advance of the monthly Bird Lovers Club meeting.

Heavily involved in bird rescue and rehabilitation for years, Jen has launched, among other initiatives, birdhism.Com and the Birdhism Facebook page to better educate the public about bird ownership. These sites encourage individuals to research birds before acquiring them. The sites offer items designed by Jen in support of avian education and rescue. Birds, says Jen, “deserve love and compassion” as they are “wild animals meant for the skies [yet] confined to cages, waiting on our schedules, sometimes alone for hours [so it’s] no wonder they lash out.” Birds “feel the same emotions we feel, from love and joy to pain and suffering.” As Jen points out, “Awareness and education prevent suffering.” Her takeaway: “Every voice matters when it comes to speaking for the birds.”

The parronts of 23-year-old, peanut-chawing Panama Amazon Sasha (@Sasha_the_peanut (IG)) and 28-year-old umbrella cockatoo Jaxon (@Jaxonaction (IG)) have opened their home more than twice to animals in need. Their adopted Sasha eight years ago when a neighbor could no longer keep her as Sasha’s mom had grown up with small birds. Though an Amazon brought surprises, the family still opened their hearts again to re-home Jaxon when the need arose.

We bid adieu to Twitter’s Queen Birdie Butternut Buttercup and Knight Echo of Twitcherton (@BirdieButternut): their parront accepted employment with extensive travel. Fortunately, she could rehome these ‘tiels with bird friends in her native Oslo, where they smile and chirp over toyses, milltsies and Nutriberries: “We have all loved the burdie community on Twitter so much. Thank you for all the joy and advice and support. We will never forgets.”

Dusty (@cockatiel_dusty (IG)) is his adoptive mom’s best friend. Caught in a net at one year by a distant relative, Dusty appeared neglected and abused at family gatherings, yet Alyssa had fallen in love with him at first sight. While Dusty bit his owners, he would settle happily on Alyssa’s finger so finally the relative asked Alyssa to take him, which she did. Dusty has come a long way in the two years since!

Of course, an adopted bird can come with issues. Billy Beep’s parront (@Billy.beeps (IG)) adopted Billy when Billy’s then-allergic owner planned a move. Now eighteen, Billy has never overcome his dislike of fingers and bites fingers waved in front of him. Billy laughs when his owner laughs and wolf whistles at himself in the mirror.

Soon Valentine’s Day will be here, and I hope you’ll all enter our #birbloveis photo tee-shirt contest! Remember, like Sid (@SidTHEparrot (Tw)), or four-year-old cinnamon Bat (@Bat_the_Conure (IG)), when the going gets rough, take a deep breath, and let the blood rush to your head bat-style!


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From young Cosima in sunny Mesa, Arizona (@cosimacalopsita; photos courtesy of Jennifer Pielack):

Last, but most certainly not least, from @fluffy.bird (IG):

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JANUARY 15, 2018

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Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day! Rev. King once observed that humanity had “learned to fly the air like birds” yet not to “walk the Earth as brothers and sisters.” Our anipals are the wind beneath our wings; truly, our birds, with their daily needs and demanding habits, ground us in the practices of humanity.

We salute Stanley Parrot OBE (@StanleyParrot (Tw)), who on New Year’s Day received his OBE (Most Excellent Order of The British Empire) from Ollie, the “BRILLIANT . . . MODEST AND HUMBLE” cat of Jane Fallon and Ricky Gervais (@myleftfang (Tw)), for Stan’s contributions to #OllieAid: Stan has raised about £300 for charity by auctioning off his feathers. With #OllieAid auctions, auction winners contribute the winning bid amounts to the charities of their choice and, on presenting the receipt to the auction holder, to receive the merchandise bid upon.

After New Year’s, a “bomb cyclone” paralyzed Eastern Canada and the Northern U.S.; but the birds chirped, screeched, and scritched much as usual, celebrated National Bird Day . . . . and envied birds Down Under like @Pipthealex (IG), who played outdoors on the designer gym his dad made him for Christmas. Pip has a congenital spinal deformity which slows him at walking, but the playground helps strengthen him to compensate.

Closer to home, Chico (@Chico_n_Rootie (IG)), usually the poster child of elder-brother congeniality, was perhaps under the weather when he fretted at Rootie for monopolizing toys in the green playhouse:

Glamour has not died in the depths of winter: Violet the Ambassabird (@violetthecockatoo (IG)), elegant at 23 years, struts the hallways of her NYC home, the cold cutting short her outdoor diplomacy with her neighborhood demographic of “pretty young girls” excited children, with whom she jumps up and down. Violet advises, “Be very kind but firm with us companion birds. DO expect that we will train you well, and speak gently and softly to us. For us cockatoos, be prepared to give AT LEAST two hours of intense physical attention time daily.”

Baby Cockatoo Diva (@Divathecockatoo (IG)) takes the wintry weather in stride– in her youthful exuberance she is utterly oblivious:

Community birds have experienced various maladies lately: Zazu (@ZazuTheIvoryBilledRacari (IG)) is healing well from emergency surgery to repair his burst trachea; over the next two months the vet will watch for scar tissue growth, which would require further surgery to remote. The least dollar donated toward Zazu’s vet expenses touches his mum Jess deeply. Contributions can be made at gofundme.com/ZazuTheIvoryBilledAracari

New Year’s Day, Off the Perch (@Bronson006 (Tw)), rushed African grey Jules to Ontario Veterinary College (“OVC”)’s ED– the unidentified virus that attacked Jules last summer had inexplicably returned, overwhelming his immune system. A “strong-willed grey” and a full member of a loving family, Jules overcame the worst with expert veterinary care and moral support from his parronts. Jules’s convalescence continues with daily medications.

Bear, parrot of Dylan Senegal (@LilParrotBoy (Tw)) crushed his toe while perched unobtrusively on top of a closing door. The claw and part of the toe were removed last Wednesday, and despite tearing out some of his stitches, Bear is recuperating well.

Watch out for the African greys and caiques this month! A belated Happy Eighth Birthday to Pepe (@takkiewax (Tw))! While @FlockisFamily’s (Tw) African grey and @EarlGreyParrot (Tw) compete for the messy eating award, Sid (@SidTHEparrot (Tw)) and Trixie (@TrixieRedBum (Tw)) demonstrate more gentile techniques. Timneh Grendel(@greybirdy (Tw)) enjoys bath time, and Otis the Parrot (@bluejaylover49 (Tw)) plays Yahtzee:

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The caiques walk The Walk and talk The Talk!

Emperor Felix (@SweetFelix (Tw)) reviews holiday cards in stately style, yet, in casual moments this 18-year-old black-capped caique, like all caiques, moonwalks — that is, suddenly whirls around and executes FAST backward steps! Daily Felix marches from cage, through dining room, and up the back of a dining-room chair–his throne–from whence to view his serf family and flock carry on household business. Deep-voiced and talkative, Felix greets passers by with a hearty “hi” and typically ambles over to “Danderville” to visit “his relatives,” the eight cockatiels. Bebe (@liketochirp (Tw)), a Danderville resident of eight years, is the family’s “first-born”, hatched from an egg laid in secret behind the hallway mirror. A survivor of a partial hysterectomy from egg-binding and of a toe-tumor removal, Bebe would set herself up as Empress atop her parront’s head!

Marcel’s (@marcel_caique (IG)) parronts chose a caique in 2015 because they wanted a bird with a “playful big personality” yet sized to apartment living. Marcel, now two, “is nothing but a tiny dinosaur.” Marcel loves his meals and also bathing in the kitchen sink while spraying water across the apartment.

Coco (@cocothecaique (IG), at one year, is a skilled, clever bird. His parronts began his training with the usual “step up”. Flighted, in good weather Coco ventures out in a harness. Coco has advanced through a series of exercises with colored marbles and cups which teach him his colors. So far he knows blue, pink and yellow–on only 10-15 minutes training per day. His parronts scour the internet for new tricks to teach him.

The moustache parakeet brings up the rear. “Parakeet” hardly seems to fit– at just over one year, Freida is twice the size (120 grams) of sibling GCC Baron Coqui von Poopyfloor (65 grams) (@coqui_and_co (IG)). Moustache parakeets (aka, red breasted Javan parakeets) are members of the psittacula group of psittacines, more directly related to Alexandrines and ringnecks than budgies. A “ham,” Freida’s favorite bedtime game consists of making believe her parront must capture her to put her to bed. Freida flirts with this prospect, on being captured lets loose the squawk-of-the-near-murdered, but she never tries to escape.

Now, @coqui_and_co is one of those unusual accounts with both breath-taking birdwatching photos and whimsical companion birb videos. One day while at the pet store to talk finches, her eyes fell entranced on Coqui’s emerald feathers. Back home, she frantically researched why a companion birb would be impractical . . . only to emerge from the pet store one month later with Coqui. Freida joined them not much later. Here Freida “travels 150 million years into the past to battle a stegosaurus.”

Let Freida battle her imaginary monsters; let us walk in humanity toward birds and community. May Martin Luther King Jr. Day remind you of the dreams worth living for.


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JANUARY 1, 2018

Happy New Year! Bonne Année! Feliz año nuevo! Ring in 2018! Join @sidTHEparrot (Tw) in relishing the possibilities of the New Year!

And Happy Seventh Day of Christmas! Twelfth Night– Epiphany– is when, according to tradition, three Wise Men (The Magi) worshiped an infant in swaddling clothes laying in a manger; Twelfth Night is celebrated January 6-7 by some Christians. So sing Twitter’s @KatoQParrot’s Seventh Day of Christmas caroling verse!

In truth, we celebrate winter solstice, one and all. The Northern Hemisphere has passed through the longest night of the year. After Constantine converted the Roman Empire to Christianity, Christmas supplanted pagan celebrations like Solstice. The holiday coexists with monotheism, however, yet today in Iran, where friend @noora_par (IG) commemorated the national holiday of Yalda, with recitation of the great Persian poet Hafez’s verse and generous hospitality to visitors and guests.

Let us linger, for future nostalgia’s sake, over recent memories; let us share them that our lives be richer together!

In Canada and the northern United States, early snow presaged a white Christmas. For Sir Darwin (@DarwinTiel (Tw)), snowfall created a Winter Wonderland; young blue Quaker Doggo (@quakquakquakquak (IG)), upon his first snow, wished for summer’s return.

Whether you had snow or not, if you let your birb shop for Christmas gifts, like @oneflewoverthecockatielsnest (IG) and @burnabybird (IG), you no doubt were struck: “He’s all grown up, he shops for Christmas gifts . . . for himself!”

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Be consoled—Many have troubled birb thoughts at holiday time: you are NOT alone! Every household has Christmas mishaps. . . So what if your birb was over the top? Consider Sagy of Slovakia (@Sagy_Greenforever (IG)), who learned to imitate Santa’s “Ho-Ho-Ho”—and never stopped:

You are not alone! You thought your bird destroyed wrapping paper? Well, consider Scout the Senegal (@p_isforparrot (Tw & IG)) and her Wrapping Paper Offensive! So your birb didn’t appreciate her gift? Was it any different from @Koko_in_London’s (IG & FB) abandoning his unwrapped gift for the charms of a smartphone? Or @intrepid_igor’s (IG) Equal Opportunity Policy on Gifts Under The Christmas Tree?

Can a family really celebrate Christmas if no single string of lights failed to light up when plugged in?! Bring on the broken nutcracker so young girls can dream of Sugar Plum pas de deux and Mouse Wars! Hail the Singing Santa who doesn’t sing so your engineering birb, like Lucky (@luckybirdbooks (Tw & IG)), can showcase her DIY repair verve. When your birb, like Alex The Honk (@AlexTheHonkingBird (Tw & IG)), gives sway to blatant Big Brother envy, isn’t it a comfort that he channels you after all?

It’s times like these the silver lining of the cloud shimmers– you take to bed with a toothache, but your birds, like @Ziggy_n_flower (Tw & IG) or Yuzuru and Mao (@Okamen75 (Tw)), cheer you with costumed charm. Or your young chick, Halo, imitates grandpa and dad by mounting a skateboard (@cocothecanary (Tw)). And, remember if worst comes to worst—never fear!—Sid can now simulate a human cough and call in sick for you!


Remember the plight of seasonal workers, and do what you can to support them. Consider Yuzuru and Mao, “The Little Matchstick Birbs”! They shudder under blankets in the cold, doing their utmost to earn the summer chauffeur’s wage.


Whether you’re in the Northern Hemisphere celebrating Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, or in the Southern Hemisphere enjoying summer vacation, December is a month for visiting. Birbs visit other birbs on playdates. Sundos (4 yrs, green Eclectus) and companion Safia, who at four months like to steal and break Sundos’ toys (@featheredmonster (IG)), host Berry (far left; @berrytheeckie (IG)), birb of their parront’s best friend, on a sunny afternoon Down Under. Closer to home, Gigi and parront (@gigitheparrotlet (IG)) met up with @coqui_and_co (IG) and perched on @coqui_and_co’s mum’s for a night of entertainment in Disney Springs! There is something at least as magical as Disney when social media account holders and their anipals meet up in real life!

Then there are those birds who “visit” friends while their parronts enjoy a vacation(!) Rio (‘Riuh’ in Malay; @rioriuh2014 (IG) explored his host’s home in dismay but then bonded with him over the two weeks his parronts traveled. Of course, birb hosting birb for such a long period may lead to sibling rivalry, but @tiellover’s mom got the perfect tool for managing that! Just pray the birbs don’t conspire against The Sign with The Exorcist Challenge of @thebeanboiii (IG)!

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Zazu (@ZazuTheIvoryBillledAracari (IG)), who charmed everyone last issue, had emergency surgery Friday for a spontaneously ruptured trachea. We repost here the text from Saturday’s post: @zazutheivorybilledaracari): “Hi, everyone. It’s been an extremely stressful night as I spent 6 hours at the emergency vet with Zazu last night. No one has a clue as to what happened but his trachea spontaneously ruptured and required emergency surgery to repair. He is still at the clinic for observation until this afternoon. We are not out of the woods yet and will require a follow-up endoscopy to make sure there’s no redundant healing. If that takes place, additional surgery will be required since it can close his trachea over time. This was an extremely costly procedure and we’re looking at around $4 thousand of dollars in vet bills if everything heals correctly… We’re in desperate need of help to continue to give Zazu the love, support, and care he needs through this difficult time.
Please, please, please keep my baby boy in your thoughts. I’m honestly heartbroken he had to go through this to begin with and am mortified by the thought of losing him.


Zazu after emergency surgery for a ruptured trachea (By @ZazuTheIvoryBilledAracari (IG))

Zazu is back home. He slept through Saturday night safely and even had a few blueberries Sunday morning. To keep him resting, his parronts have taken his toys away. Friday Zazu will have a check-up with the vet Friday, which should reveal how well he is healing. His parronts express gratitude for the community’s love and support.

Dylan the Senegal’s parront (@LilParrotBoy (Tw)), while walking the dog, discovered a wrenchingly inhumane situation: a peach-faced blue lovebird in a cardboard box, dumped on the icy UK snow, discarded and abandoned to near-certain death from hypothermia. Dramatically, the motionless bird, on warming, revived. Dylan et al. have adopted the lovebird, now named Topaz. Carla Chadwick (FB) relates this poignantly at https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10213877638708891&id=1046120827.

Topaz now publishes his own story from his brand new Twitter account, @Topazlostb, established to deter similar bird dumpings. Read his story!

The family started a GoFundMe account some time ago for another bird’s vet bills and has added Topaz’s initial vet care to that fund drive. Topaz reports that Apollo the Tiel (@Apollotiel (Tw)) generously donated £100, which covered the vet bill and a few toys as well! Thank you, Apollo, for being The Spirit of Christmas to a wee lovebird!

Yes, Christmastide celebrates determined and victorious hope, but it’s also about making eggnog at New Year’s from cracked eggs!


My dad pretends that he doesn’t care about mycockatiels, but he is watching cockatiel videos with Pipoca and Chicken (By @MariChrisney (Tw))