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This week in parrot news: just the facts, ma'm edition

Aaaargh these drunk drivers should walk the plank.
Aaaargh these drunk drivers should walk the plank.
George Sommers

- PHOTO CAPTION: "Yaaaargh, read this 'Parrot's beak' column or walk the plank!"

- Parrot rats out drunk driver owner to cops: Talk about your stool pigeons. SCROLL DOWN; ARTICLE CONTINUES.

- David Letterman's Top 10 things you don't want to Hear from your Parrot:

- Florida family saved from fire thanks to pet parrot: ‪#‎wftv‬

- Parrot pops up on UK traffic cam: lanette raymond

- Roonah the parrot survives a frigid night outside; returns home safely. barbara h

- Conservation scorecard: Wild timneh greys are in trouble: -- A group of Vinaceous Amazons (Amazona vinacea) confiscated from illegal trade is being prepared for release and others are being added to the breeding program. -- Macaw release project at the World Heritage Site of Copán, Honduras supported by the World Parrot Trust. Learn more at -- More on macaws:

- Eclectus parrots are among about 20% of parrots who are sexually dimorphic meaning you can tell the sex by the color. Males are green females are red. Eclectus parrots have a longer digestive system than other parrots and must be fed food with no vitamin fortification because the vitamins remain in their system too long and become toxic. An overgrown beak on an Eclectus parrot is an indication that the bird has too much seed in their diet.

- Oh, s**t: In the wild, some hyacinth macaws pick through cattle dung for predigested nuts.

- TV trivia: Among 'The Beverly Hillbillies"' Elly May Clampett's "critters" was a cockatoo named Virgil who could deposit coins in a piggy bank.

- Pscittacine cinema: Blu Lu the macaw paints for conservation: Barbara Heidenreich -- Capt. Flint the yellowhead amazon sings "A Pirate's Life for Me": -- Puck the loquacious parakeet: --The singing cockatiel: --England's Parrot Zoo: -- Making toys for large parrots: -- A hoarde of hungry wild cockatoos in Australia: -- Two tone budgie- real or fake? You be the judge: -- Yellow crowned and orange winged amazons in the wild: --Laughing macaw: -- Backyard galah cam:

- Each toe on a parrot's foot has a different number of bones - one of many facts in Sally Blanchard's Parrots Made E-Z .pdf publication "Anatomy and Grooming" - available at:

- The golden-shouldered parrot will build a nest in the taller termite mounds and will dig a burrow into them when the mound has been softened by the rains. A long tunnel is dug down into the mound, and capped off by a nesting chamber.

- Cleanliness in (not) next to parrotliness, as Patricia Sund blogs:

- It is presumed that the first parrots imported into Europe were in the Psittacula family from Asia (probably ringnecks or Alexandrines) by the soldiers of Alexander the Great around 325 BC. Of course, this is where the Alexandrine parakeet got its name.

- Night owls, I mean parrots: Great-billed parrots and Patagonian conures arec both crepuscular (usually active at dawn and dusk) and even nocturnal at times. If you want a parrot that doesn't mind staying up late, these are two possibilities. Patagonians have been observed flying at night especially especially when there is a bright moon. Some African greys prefer not to be active at dawn but can adjust to getting up later and staying up later. Palm cockatoos and many Australian cockatoos sometimes serenade unappreciative people with their calls in the middle of the night (as do some companion cockatoos!). But most parrot-family birds are diurnal - active during daylight.

- But do they take requests?: 70 zebra finches pecking at and perching on a bunch of guitars is a new art exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA.

- One of the most gentle parrot species is the blue-headed parrot (Pionus menstruus); endemic to tropical Central and South America, from Costa Rica and Trinidad south to Bolivia and South to Central Brazil.

- January is "Adopt a Rescued Bird Month".

- Dig this: In the wild, African grey parrots spend a great deal of time on the ground digging for calcium rich grasses. This behavior seems to be instinctive for baby greys who can spend a lot of time digging in their cages.

- 100 year old amazon:

- What's bugging you?: All over the neotropics bees and mites severly impact the ability of wild birds (not just parrots) to fledge young. The bees take over nest boxes; the mites suck the blood out of the chicks and adults.Caroline Efstathion and her collaborator have designed a way to prevent this. Take a look at her projects on

- In the wild, African grey parrots spend a great deal of time on the ground digging for calcium rich grasses. This behavior seems to be instinctive for baby greys who can spend a lot of time digging in their cages.

- New coin series showcases hyacinth macaws on endangered species series. (and, yes; I had to Google up Niue to find out where the heck it is.)

-When parrots were first studied and frequently imported into Europe, it was difficult to classify how the birds were related to each other. In 1801, the book "The Natural History of Parrots" by Francois le Vaillant classified several blue-fronted amazons as different species because of their differences in plumage Ara is the genus of several macaws but the bird that was labeled the grey-trunked ara was the palm cockatoo. Despite the fact that macaws are from Central and South America and the 'grey-trunked ara' was from Australia, the bird was classified as an Ara because of its bare facial patch. From Sally Blanchard's Beak Bites:

- Many parrot species raise 1-3 chicks in a clutch, but the rose-breasted cockatoo. can have as many as 8. It is next to impossible for them to raise this many babies at one time by themselves so as they fledge, each one is led to a creche - a nursery area where babies from several pairs are raised by other adults until the majority are weaned. At that time the weaned birds fly off as a juvenile flock. In the wild they don't form strong bonds with their parents, but looser bonds with other adults and other juveniles. When people try to get them to be 'love sponges', it is not natural. Rather than trying to form a parental bond, people should form a 'buddy bond' with lots of play and 'instructional interaction' rather than cuddling and stroking.

- Band on the run: Leg bands only serve to identify a bird to a breeder. They are not registered in a database anywhere that the end keeper can identify. These bands cause serious and even fatal injuries to parrots. Get the band cut off. You'll do even better by microchipping your bird. By all means, take a LOT of pictures of your babies just in case you ever need to prove ownership. Their markings are as unique as your fingerprints.

- In the 1800s some "experts" claimed that parrots did not need to drink water; a view fortunately disputed in 1884 by Dr. W.T, Greene, a famous 'aviarist' who published "Parrots in Captivity".

- Reading your parrot's body language:

- Sally Blanchard's Companion Parrot Online website (in addition to several other items in today's "parrot's beak" column) contains information about vintage advertising that used parrot-family birds to sell products.

Chesterfield cigarettes featured amazons apparently because they have a "macho" connotation. Several other tobacco companies used parrots in their advertising. The worst is the 1954 Old Gold ad with two budgies sitting on a man’s hand with the smoke from a lit cigarette filtering through the air next to them. The caution on this advertisement should read, Caution: The Life Span of these Budgies Will be Considerably Shortened by Breathing in Cigarette Smoke."

- Sense about scents:

- "Rules for the Modern Girl" blogger Tina Watson on her parrotlet: "Many people are terrified of birds. You really need to be a bird person to understand them. They are so different than having a dog or a cat. Zinnie is super sweet and really fun to have around. He only says one thing, 'What are you doing?' which makes him seem really nosy."

- Lifespans and adaptability of cockatoos re-introduced to the wild:

- Food, glorious food: Palm cockatoo beaks never completely closes because of their unique anatomy. Evidently this allows the bird to open very hard nuts. -- Healthy snack facts: -- Converting from seed to pellet diet -- Organic diet:

- Lara Joseph is interviewing for volunteers at The Animal Behavior Center, LLC. If interested, message us or e-mail at the address on the website on the bottom of the first page. -- Lara is also giving an on-line webinar on Understanding Behavior with limited seating on Monday,1/13. Here is the link with more information. .

- Chet Fuhrman appears with Casey the performing CAG Sat. 1/18 1:30 at That Fish Place/That Pet Place in Lancaster, PA. Carmen Lienert, Alan Sipe and more birds will be there as well. Bring your b ird alon g if you'd like and there will be an awesome raffle table where all proceeds will benefit Feathered Sanctuary Exotic Bird Rescue.

- Clubbin': New Jersey's Flapping Feathers Club meets Wed., 1/ 22 at 7:30 pm Land and Sea Diner and Restaurant 20-12 Fair Lawn Avenue Fair Lawn, NJ.

- Showtime: 1/17 -19: Greater Philadelphia Pet Expo - Greater Philadelphia Expo Center, 100 Station Avenue, Oaks, PA - Fri 4-9, Sat 10-7, Sun 10-5 - 800-677-4677 - -- 1/18-19: Tim Vogle's Southeastern Exotic Bird Fair - Atlanta State Farmers Market, 16 Forest Pkwy, Forest Park, GA - Sat 9-5, Sun 9-4 - 843-216-1553 - -- 1/24-26: World of Pets Expo - Maryland State Fairgrounds, 2200 York Road, Timonium, MD - Fri 2-8, Sat 10- 7, Sun 10-6 - 800-882-9894 -

- It is with sadness to report that Linda Seger passed away last week from a massive heart attack. Linda was responsible for the Fundamentals of Aviculture website and has administered American Federation for Aviculture's FOA courses since their inception.

- And best wishes to American Federation for Aviculture judge and long time friend of the column Linda Rubin in her heroic and epic struggle in taking care of her ill mother.

- Rescue me: In honor of Adopt a Bird Month Feathered Sanctuary is raffling off a Birdie Basket! 100% of all proceeds will benefit the Feathered Sanctuary Bird Rescue in Willow Street, PA. -- Project Love is a chance to help rescues. Donate a homemade or store bought toy/s, treats, nuts or perches and vote for your favorite rescue. For more info and to vote: Project Love: Valentine's Toys for Rescues FB page

- Lost: Rolo, African grey parrot 2 years old Ambergate Belper area of Derbyshire, England. c ontact 01530 263399

- News tips: Lanette Raymond, WindyCityParrot, Rick Foster, American Federation for Aviculture group email, "Boston Globe", Kathy Heaton, Sally Blanchard, Deb White, Feathered Sanctuary, Barbara Heidenreich, Avitech Bird Supplies, Audrey O'Connor, Angela Cancilla Herschel, Feathered Sanctuary, Pam Russell Skinner, Dawn Korpalski, Amazon Cracker, Dennis Bohn, Flapping Feathers newsletter

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