Lisa Woodworth talks about Eclectus parrots – June 23

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Lisa Woodworth EclectusLisa Woodworth breeds Eclectus parrots through Temple Aviary in northeast Oklahoma.  She brings her background of care for a variety of birds to the OAS General meeting on June 23, 2013.  We invite people who may be interested in the dimorphic breed, or any pet bird, to come join us at the Hardesty Library, 93rd & Memorial, Tulsa, from 2:00 to 4:30 p.m.

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5 Ways To Play With Your African Grey

5 Ways To Play With Your African Grey
Have a great playtime with your pet African grey with these tips.
By Sally Blanchard

There are many fun games to play with your African grey.  Playing with your African grey can be fun and rewarding for both of you.

1) Teaching Labels
While not all African greys are excellent talkers, I think the ones that are usually have caregivers who spend some time teaching them to talk. This does not mean repeating words or expressions over and over, which will eventually drive both you and the bird crazy. Greys are social learners, and the best way to give your grey an advanced vocabulary is to label just about everything you do so that the bird can hear you clearly. When you leave, say something like “Good bye, see you later.” When you come home say, “Good to see you!”  Label foods, “Wanna bite, apple?” and food events, “It’s breakfast time.”   Events can be labeled, “Do you want to shower?” or “Let’s sort the mail!” “How about a head skritch?” or the more common, “Want a kiss?” The play part of all this becomes evident when the African grey uses these words and expressions appropriately to tell you what it wants. Sometimes you can set up a game by teaching the words ahead of time.

For example, back in the days before so much communication took place through e-mail, a friend of mine got a lot of mail every day. When she brought it into the house, she would say, “Let’s sort the mail” and her pet African grey would always help her sort it. Mostly she gave him the junk mail and envelopes for him to either rip up or throw across the room. Of course, he looked forward to the mail arriving, and it became an important game for him. He could usually tell when the mail came, and shortly after my friend started labeling the game her pet African grey would say, “Let’s sort the mail” when she got up to get it.

2) Teaching Responses
Another fun game that you can play with a talking African grey is to teach it to respond correctly to your questions.  Over a period of time, I taught my grey about 15 or so animal sounds as a response to a question. There was a trick to teaching the response and not what I said first. For example, I would say, “Cat got your tongue?” in a very quiet voice with little or no enthusiasm, and then I would imitate a cat’s meow in a loud and enthusiastic manner. Parrots are more likely so say something they hear if it is said with enthusiasm. As she learned one response, I would teach her another. I’d quietly say, “Nice weather for ducks” and then do an enthusiastic “Quack, quack.”  The fun part of it that we both enjoyed was when I was busy with something else, and she was on her cage, and I would look at her and say, “I live in a jungle” and she would do the Howler monkey call I taught her. It was a fun game when I would “test” her on her animal sounds.

3) Teaching Basic Tricks
I have written a lot about a basic trick that I think is really easy to teach most parrots, including African greys. The easiest one is “Gimme Four.”  The way I teach this trick is through patterning and repetition. First, I get the grey on my hand in such a way that he only has one foot on my hand. The other foot is just kind of hanging. I make sure that the bird is balanced as it sits on my hand so it is not uncomfortable. Then I take my open hand and gently push it against the hanging foot and say, “Gimme four.” I do this no more than 10 times in a row and then let the pet bird sit with both feet on my hand. Then I gently push into the foot again so the pet bird will raise it and say, “Gimme four” again.  If the bird shows any indication of lifting the foot for me, I praise it. I might repeat this process several times over a few hours or even a few days, but I find that most greys pick it up after only a few times. When his caregiver reaches over to pick him up, one grey I know says, “Gimme four” and lifts his food for her to gently push against. It has become a fun ritual for him.

4) “I’m Gonna Getchew”
When Bongo Marie, my African grey, first came to live with me, she was terrified of almost everything but particularly of being sprayed with water for a bath. I found that getting her used to being showered was a matter of spraying a gentle mist of water next to her instead of at her. It took a few months, but she finally began to look forward to her shower and actually asked for it. One of the reasons is that I would spray myself in the face with water first and then mist her. A few months after that, she was comfortable enough with being sprayed that we had developed a game. She would see me pick up the spray bottle and say, “I’m gonna getchew!” and I would squirt her and then she would say, “Oh oh, ya got me!”

5) Warm Potato
A lot of people think that Afrrican greys are one-person birds, but they actually are capable of forming bonds with several people. These bonds may be different. For example, there is often a most-favored person and a less-favored person.  The best way of evening the score is for everyone in the African grey’s family to sit down in the living room and to slowly pass the pet bird from person to person. Each person does something special that the African grey really loves. It can be whistling a short tune, singing a song, teaching a new word or expression, playing “Gimme Four”, laughing and making silly faces, giving a head skritch or even giving the pet bird a special treat. Each person only handles the pet bird for a few minutes before the next person reaches over and says “Up” to get the pet grey to step on his or her hand.

Published in Bird Basics, Bird Care

Attention Macaw Lovers – Potential Government Threat

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Following is information from an active AFA member who is concerned, as we all should be, by activities that will impact our pet birds.  Please read, review and respond with notice to your Federal Legislators.  Your participation may save a lot of heartache.

"A serious threat is looming that in the short term could affect our ability to have Scarlet, Blue-Throated, Hyacinth, Great Green and Military Macaws in our homes as companions or small breeders. In the long term this threat could impact just about every species of parrot.  Examine the evidence below.  I do not go off half-cocked, I researched this for several weeks and I could not be more concerned. This is why I am sharing this broadly. If it concerns you, speak up and be heard.  We only have until April 22nd when the feedback closes for these species."

* * * * *

URGENT Endangered Species Act (ESA) Threatens Parrots in the USA

Putting non-native parrot species on the Endangered Species Act will threaten their continued existence in the United States. Speak up now or it will be too late. 

Situation

Right now an organization called Friends of Animals and Wild Earth Guardians is hijacking the ESA, administered by the Fish & Wildlife Service, to put 5 species of macaws (Scarlet, Hyacinth, Great Green, Military and Blue-Throated) on the Endangered Species Act list.  In the introduction to petition to the Fish and Wildlife Service to add 14 parrot species, Friends of Animals states that their goal is to end the captive bird trade in the United States. These species are recovering in most of their wild ranges due to a combination of effective international laws that protect them and steadily improving conservation programs in their countries of origin.

  1. If a species is added to the Endangered Species Act, without a special rule being put in place, interstate commerce is not allowed except between approved conservation breeders with Captive-Bred Wildlife permits.
    • These species, which are doing well in aviculture, will no longer be bred in the numbers they are now since they will not be able to be sold as pets, which is the majority of the market for private aviculture.  Aviculture is keeping the gene pool alive and vibrant. Breeders may no longer find it practical to continue breeding these magnificent birds and may eventually abandon their efforts. The birds will be left unproductive, be destroyed or be put into sanctuary.  How does this help conserve species?
    • If you have a pet of one of these species, in most states you will be allowed to keep your bird if you can prove that you acquired your bird prior to it being listed (Keep all your documentation!)  If you have to take your bird to a veterinarian in another state you might be considered to be doing interstate commerce with that species. It may become impossible for rescues to place birds out of state. In some states (including Illinois, Virginia and Rhode Island), the Endangered Species Act is adopted immediately within the state as well, and there is no grandfathering.  It will be illegal for you to keep your bird without a permit if it is one of the above species, which may not be possible for pet owners to get.
    • Commercial aviculturists and their customers contribute significantly to effective conservation efforts, provide visibility for conservation programs and participate in eco-tourism based on their personal experiences of species.
  2. If the demand for these species in the international pet trade is not met by commercial aviculture, the demand for smuggled birds will increase, thus increasing poaching.  How does any of this help conserve species in their native countries?  Putting them on the ESA does nothing to fund conservation in their native countries.  Incidentally, these species are, for the most part, recovering nicely in their countries of origin and their inclusion often hinges on their lack of recovery in a single small area.
  3. A long list of additional species, including more macaws, cockatoos and other kinds of parrots are next up for review…. If your bird isn’t on the list yet, it may beonly a matter of time.

Actions You Can Take NOW

We must all speak out now! As the old quote goes: "...those who won't stand together will all hang separately...."

  1. Email, call or snail mail your elected representatives in Congress about your concern; let them know this is an important issue to you.  Votes drive these people! You want them to be willing to discuss it, and to start a committee to investigate the use of the Endangered Species Act with foreign species, especially parrots which are bred in the USA successfully. Outcomes we want:
    • Stop the placement of the existing proposed species, or else apply the special rule allowing interstate commerce to continue for all of them, pending congressional review.
    • Create a committee to review the ESA with regard to parrots to:
      1. List all parrot species approved with the special rule that allows continued interstate commerce, regardless of whether  it is considered endangered or threatened.
      2. De-list previously-listed parrot species to stimulate aviculture to produce more of them
      3. Repeal the part of the Endangered Species Act that refers to Foreign Species
      4. I have a sample letter you can fine tune and personalize. Follow this link to find contact info for your representatives and senators:  http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml
  • Respond to the request for input on the currently-open Fish & Wildlife ruling, this is only for Militaries, Hyacinths and Great Green Macaws, but SO WHAT?  Speak up!  You can even use your sample letter in this response; let’s bombard everyone concerned with our feedback. You only have until April 22, 2013 to post.  To post a comment, go to this link, and click the COMMENT NOW button:

http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=FWS-R9-ES-2012-0013-0072

  1. Participate in the petition I have made to Fish & Wildlife:  Please join this campaign: http://goo.gl/phjSw
  2. Write letters or send questions of your own to Janine Van Norman who is Chief of the Branch of Foreign Species, a unit of the Endangered Species Program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Arlington, Virginia at 703 358 2171; fax: 703 358 1735; e-mail: Janine_VanNorman@FWS.gov
  3. Join PIJAC (Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council) at www.pijac.org .  The small individual membership fee of $25 goes to support our pet industry lobbyists in Washington. They are aware of these legislative efforts (both HR 996 and the ESA) and are working on them, although these efforts are not currently reflected on their website.
  4. Write to PIJAC and express your concern so they will get focused on this issue. There is a sample letter the President of PIJAC, Mike Canning, below under sample letters. His email address: mcanning@pijac.org
  5. Others to write:
    1. President Obama since he has said he wants good science to go into governmental decisions, and how is it good science to discount the effectiveness of commercial aviculture in keeping gene pools alive and helping to preserve threatened and endangered species of parrot already in captivity?
    2. Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior  exsec@ios.doi.gov
    3. The Fish and Wildlife Service general email, directed to Dan Ashe, Director of Fish and Wildlife Service: dan_ashe@fws.gov
  6. Other pending threats: HR 996, which says the only kinds of birds you can legally have are “common canaries”, ducks, chickens and geese.  We must be vigilant and speak up about each and every one of these that affects our rights to keep and propagate the animals we love. And we need to effective conservation efforts in their countries of origin.

Reference Documents – Check it out for yourself

Background Fact Document

Radical Animal Rights Groups Hijack the Endangered Species Act

First Petition form Animal Rights Group to Put 14 Species of Parrots on the Endangered Species Act

Summary of the Endangered Species Act

What Happens to ESA Listed Species?

Existing Legal Protection for Parrots

How Does ESA Listing Help Foreign Species (or NOT)?

Fish & Wildlife Service Responses to Questions (A Letter from Fish & Wildlife Service)

Sample Letters

Sample letter from owner of Hyacinth, Great Green (Buffons), Blue Throated, Military or Scarlet Macaw to your representatives and senators in congress

Word Format

.pdf Format

Sample letter from owner of other parrot species to your representatives and senators in congress

Word Format

.pdf Format

Sample letter to PIJAC

Word Format

.pdf Format

Susanne Cochran
Avalon Aviary Bird Store
3408 N Garfield Ave
Loveland, CO 80538

MARCH 24, 2013 – ROBIN SHEWOKIS SPEAKING

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At the next OAS meeting on Sunday, March 24, nationally known speaker, Robin Shewokis will make a presentation to the members and guests of OAS.  We'll gather at 1:30 for snacks, then have a short business meeting before Robin takes the podium.  See you there?

RobinShewokisPhotoBio

World renowned bird behavioral expert Robin Shewokis is the owner of The Leather Elves, a company that designs and manufactures enrichment devices for animals in captivity. Since 2000, Robin has consulted at zoos in the U.S., Canada and Holland and has distributed enrichment products worldwide.

Robin regularly speaks at parrot clubs, providing workshops teaching ways to create a stimulating environment. She also develops new products for parrots that will stimulate naturalistic behavior. Robin has published articles on enrichment in national and international publications. She has also produced a DVD titled "Enriching Your Parrot's Life."

Robin is a member of The American Association of Zookeepers where she advises the behavioral husbandry committee. She currently serves on the board of The International Association of Avian Trainers and Educators and chairs their enrichment committee.

Another Successful Bird Fair

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Our most recent production--Spring Fling--happened on Saturday, March 2.  There were over 500 paid admissions to visit with the 40 vendors from across the country who brought all the things a bird could want, plus birds to add to your family.  If you missed it, I'm posting some pictures of the day's events.

Crowd in hallway Shoppers in LJO boothMacaws & cages for sale

As you can tell, there was a lot to see and experience.  If you made this show, plan to come to the Fall Fair in September, and bring your friends and family!

I want to take a moment to acknowledge all the work (blood, sweat and tears included) that the volunteers put in to make these fairs the quality that they are.  The Board members, particularly, were the bones and major contributors of their time and energy.  And that is particularly important to note when one considers that the median age of the seven current Board members is over 50, and we've had some health issues to overcome.  But because it is important to us that these fairs continue to offer the public the opportunity to find a new avian member of the family, to upgrade that bird's cage and toys, or to buy bulk products, we put forth that effort.

Now the fact that the current board is older is no reflection on the age of people who are invited to be members of the club.  We welcome everyone who is interested in caged birds, whether finches or Macaws, to be a part of this organization.  The funds we raise from these all-volunteer (no one is paid) events go to bring top-notch speakers who specialize in various bird species and concerns to our monthly meetings, to send representatives to the national AFA conventions, and to donate to organizations which promote the health and well-being of pet birds, and the welfare of wild birds and their habitats.

Visitor w-member black palm cockatoo

Some of our members brought their pets to the fair.  The Black Palm Cockatoo is one of the most exotic that we've seen, but by no means the only special member of our bird family.  We have members with Hyacinth Macaws, a variety of cockatoos, African greys, and other smaller parrots, and those birds sometimes come to our monthly meetings.

So, again, if you missed this fair, please put the September fair on your calendar.  It's Saturday, September 7, and will be held at the same Green Country Event Center.  And while you're marking your calendar, Sunday, March 24th is our next meeting.  Our guest speaker is Robin Shewokis, a nationally known speaker (one of those we bring in with funds from the fairs!).  Hope you will come hear her speak.  See you there!

Published in Bird Fair, Meetings