I set out to the Palooza with several items on my shopping list. I heard there would be an incredible sale, so I was considering buying a large Java tree for the aviary, a travel cage for Truman, and a 25lb sack of Roudybush. However, I would only consider buying these if they were incredibly priced because I did not need them immediately.
Truman spent the first hour of the drive screaming in his carrier. But finally he got a hint and shut up for a bit. Unfortunately there wasn't much left to go and he began screaming again as we got closer. I ignore him when he screams to avoid encouraging it even further. I think more outings and ignoring will be required to get him to sit as quietly in the car as Kili (or at least I hope).
Kathleen and I went two days, Friday and Saturday. Friday was meet the speakers night and I was looking forward to meeting Irene Pepperberg. This was the real highlight of the event that made me decide to make the multi hour drive to visit. With Kili on my shoulder and Truman on my arm, I stood in a short line to get to meet the famous parrot researcher. I asked her about Corvid to Psittacine comparative psychology. She mentioned that she knows of research being done and a paper due in coming months. However, this did not strike up much of a conversation and she seemed impatient to get the brief encounter over with. So I just asked her to sign my copies of her books out to Kili & Truman. Knowing her background, I really shouldn't be surprised about Dr. Pepperberg's social manner. However, I had greater expectations from the endless intrigue I have acquired from her books.
Michael, Kili, and Truman meeting Dr. Irene Pepperberg at Parrot Palooza
I did not even bother meeting the other speakers because I had no idea who they were. It kind of didn't make sense to meet them until I could hear their talks and learn what they're about. The rest of the Friday evening was pretty boring. There wasn't much going on and not that many people. Most of the people that were there were just shopping. So we looked around but weren't amazed by the products. Certainly they had an extensive selection but nothing out of the ordinary. The walls were lined with endless bird toys but it wasn't as much of a selection as you might think. Six hangars would be filled with the exact same toy which could span just a single one. So part of the impressive fullness of the shelves/hangars was really just redundancy.
While Kathleen went to handle parrots in the bird room, I queried about the price of a 25lb bag of Roudybush. It seemed like no one could answer my question and it took some asking around before someone got back to me with a price of $59.99. I gave a shocking look at such an overprice but they reminded me that everything is 20% off. With half a bag of this bird food still sitting in my freezer, there was no way I was going to be buying any more unless it was the best deal I'd ever seen on this food. It certainly wasn't. Even with 20% off it came out to more expensive than an online site I found including shipping.
The high prices were not only limited to the bird food. We browsed the shelves and found that perches, toys, carriers, and cages all cost way too much. Then we'd remember to recalculate with 20% off and then the price would just sound about right or slightly discount compared to other places I shop for parrot supplies. Between the fact that employees could never directly answer to the price of items, seeing them anxiously tacking prices on things, and my experience buying parrot supplies elsewhere, I have a strong suspicion that the store jacked up the prices in order to put a discount on them. I am not certain of this but if the ticket price is what they normally sell at, then Bird Paradise is quite overpriced the rest of the year for typical parrot supply shopping. With 20% off, it seemed that items were anywhere from 0-10% cheaper than prices I would expect. So there was a bit of a savings to be had by shopping there but nowhere near an actual 20%.
For example, I checked out the Lixit water bottles. I would have considered picking up an extra one for a genuine 20% off the typical $25 price they run. I was shocked to see them listed at $30. With 20% off from that price it comes out to $24. On the Bird Paradise online store it says they normally sell them for $25. So indeed this does come out slightly cheaper than day to day prices, but $24 is not actually 20% off the normal price but just a mere 4%. And this is what it seemed like to me in general for every item that I looked at including that Roudybush and travel cage I considered.
I do not have hard proof that they purposefully jacked up the prices prior to the "sale" because I do not regularly frequent that store. In fact I've never been there before. However, between my gut feeling, comparison of prices to other stores I normally shop, and a comparison of prices to their online store, it appears that this is indeed the case. Unlike the countless parrot lovers staring starry eyed at the 20% off discount signs, I ended up not buying any of the expensive items I would have considered because the actual savings were unsubstantial.
I received 10 raffle tickets for showing up. The system is somewhat complicated with an entire room full of stuff up for raffle. You have to put tickets with your name on them into buckets next to the items you want a chance at winning. Ideally I would have wanted the large Java tree for my aviary but I figured there was damn little chance of winning that with so many people bidding. So instead I put all my tickets on a parrot climbing net so that I might at least walk out with something.
Despite an extensive selection of exotic parrot species, I was not particularly anxious to go handle their parrots. First of all they wouldn't let me go into their bird room with my own parrots on me. That is understandable but it's pretty silly that with a squirt of hand sanitizer they would consider it ok then. My parrots have been all over my shirt and body so if they really were contaminated, a little hand sanitizer would not save their flock. I think it's just a sham to make it appear that they protect their birds. It certainly looks good on paper but not in practicality. But this is not why I did not want to go see their birds. I was just too depressed seeing all the clipped exotics.
It may be hypocritical or unfounded, but I have a stronger aversion to clipped exotic/advanced parrots. I understand that "beginner parrots" such as Budgies, Cockatiels, and even Senegal Parrots will continue being clipped for new owners who don't know any better. I was myself in that same position before so I understand. However, I don't think that anyone should be buying a Vasa Parrot, Cape Parrot, or Hyacinth Macaw without the requisite knowledge and experience to keep them flighted. These are much bigger, rarer, more complicated parrots. And if the owner is not prepared with the positive reinforcement training techniques required for owning a flighted parrot, then they certainly are not ready for owning it at all. These parrots can pack a lot of bite so the kind of inexperience that leads to clipping is most unwelcome with such parrots. I am by no means trying to justify clipping the smaller parrots but I can at least fathom why it is done. It's my hope that those first time owners of clipped parrots can read my training articles and choose not to clip in the future. This is purely my opinion and personal judgment and not necessarily a reflection of what is best. However, it depressed me so much to see a clipped Cape Parrot that I couldn't enjoy looking at any of their other parrots.
The rest of the Friday evening we spent in the lobby/lounge with the parrots. The store has a wonderful lounge for current or potential parrot owners to hang out with their parrots. We got to meet friends from The Parrot Forum and do a little bit of training with Kili and Truman. They love showing off in front of strangers so it was not too difficult to get them to show a few tricks. I kept them in their harnesses because I did not want to risk them bothering other people more so than a fear of being unable to recover them in the store. It is a good thing I brought the parrots along to keep me company or I would have gotten pretty bored otherwise.
The following day turned out much better. We got there early and it was not yet crowded. We walked around a bit more but once again there was no temptation to buy anything. However, I needed to keep Turman busy and I had forgotten his toys in the car. So I bought a bunch of pacifiers (his absolute favorite toy) and plastic keys to keep him busy for a grand total of $3.50. That's all I spent at the Palooza but those items were worth it because I haven't seen them sold anywhere else.
There seemed to be many contests and prizes going on but they were quite confusing because they were poorly explained or written about. I definitely found it difficult to find out what was going on. And it didn't help that half the employees weren't sure themselves. There were several ongoing contests with different colored tickets. There was a door prize raffle, another raffle for the parrot supplies previously mentioned, and then there was the penguin races. I didn't win anything or at least I had a hard time telling if I did or not. As I mentioned it wasn't very clear what the rules were or what was going on.
The first event was the Birdman Exotic show. I can see how others might like it but I wasn't thrilled. The parrots he showcased were all clipped and doing elementary tricks. I can achieve much more advanced tricks with my parrot so it just wasn't interesting to watch. One trick was basically where he laid a parrot on its back on a spinning pedestal. I could just picture Kili snicker at this because she can do a forward flip and play dead. In another trick, the parrot merely picked up rings and put them on a peg. Kili sorts them by color. And she flies to get each piece. Once again, probably not a terrible show, but just not thrilling to me.
The first of the three speaker presentations was by the Bird Paradise store owner, Kathleen Lance. Her presentation was about what she had learned about parrots in her 30 year experience. Honestly, it was a terribly boring presentation about the bare minimum basics of parrot ownership. Nowadays with the internet, the same can easily be learned in 3 months instead, and then some. The talk was about things like what kind of parrot to choose and what foods are good to feed. We have endless discussions about things like this on The Parrot Forum, so really nothing new learned here. Not that it was a bad talk, just not particularly interesting to folks who do some research on their own. There was nothing novel presented. Of course the old fudy dudies that don't use the internet might benefit from this talk, but then again they wouldn't be on here to read this article and all the free tips I try to provide.
Kili was acting up and screaming a lot so I had to walk out to put the parrots into their carriers in the car. I was surprised that it was Kili and not Truman being the trouble maker. They needed a break anyway so it was alright to put them away for a bit to eat and relax. When I returned, the next speaker was soon to present. I was excited to finally get to see Dr. Pepperberg speak. She talked about some of the basics of the Alex Studies and continued talking about their research about number perception in parrots. Most of this was not new to me because I had read both of her books and many of her papers. The only interesting part was toward the end about how they taught Alex the numbers seven and eight. That study was incomplete and did not end up in the books. A lot of people walked out on Pepperberg's speech and she even laughed that she understands her talk maybe too scientific for some.
After the end of the second talk, Kathleen and I went to get the parrots back and enjoy free food. Kili and Truman also enjoyed pieces from my pretzel in return for performing some tricks. I always have my parrots perform some behavior even if I simply want to treat them. This helps maintain known behaviors and keeps interaction positive at all times. Not going to complain about free food. I think it was important to do that to keep people at the event. If people got hungry and left for food, they may not have come back. They set up large tables so it was an opportunity to meet and talk to other parrot lovers.
While standing outside the bathroom waiting for Kathleen, a woman started asking me about taking food samples but I told her that I have no idea. Rudely, she sneered "well you should." She continued looking around and then began asking me again which ones are the pine nuts. I told her again that I don't know. She said "you should know cause you work here!" I was getting aggravated but instead I just played along and said, "YOU should know, YOU work here." She was surprised and replied "no I don't." Finally I said "well I don't either so I don't know." It wasn't the first time people assumed I was an employee but certainly the rudest. I think it's the fact that I was holding my parrots and just confident about bird handling that lead so many people to think I worked there.
Just as we were preparing to leave, we discovered the parrot toy making workshop. Somehow we had missed that previously, probably because it was in a dark back area and poorly labeled. This was really cool and it's a good thing we didn't miss it. We gathered toy parts to the allowed maximum and then sat down to work on them. Kili and Truman helped by doing a quality control inspection of each part prior to us putting them on the toy. Just the materials that went into the toy alone cost more than I had spent at the whole event. I didn't mean to be a cheapskate but the things sold at the event just didn't appeal to me enough. We took the handmade toys and then set out on the long drive back home.
In conclusion, I would suggest anyone within 2 hours drive to come take advantage of the event next time around. Certainly enjoy the free toys, food, games, raffles, contests, and speakers but stay clear of the shopping because it isn't really worth it. Do not come to the event looking for a good deal on items you wish to buy or at least check prices online and at competitors before trusting the supposed sale. However, if you're just looking to have a fun time and can enjoy looking without buying, it's definitely worth coming if you have the time.
Having just finished "Alex and Me" I've been pondering your encounters with Dr. Pepperberg. I gather that you found her a bit distant and thoroughly engaged with the audience. I think, quite honestly, she probably had mixed feelings about being there. She has to reach out to audiences like that to keep the Alex Foundation funded (and much to my surprise, even with the fairly remarkable results she had obtained, it seems academia is tolerating, rather than embracing, her research). But she, personally, doesn't approve of people who work outside the home keeping parrots as pets. She takes the view that they need intensive companionship throughout the day, which of course her lab subjects get. So it may tear her in two directions to be there.
Plus she does have an ego, as many academics do (I can say this, being in that realm myself). She left a tenured position at University of Arizona because, basically, she didn't want to teach intro courses. She only wanted to teach in her specialty.
I'd love to have dinner with her, but I'm not sure I'd want to try to interact with her as a "fan". Gee, I'm going to be in Boston for a week in two weeks and I have her email address... nah, never happen.
ciao,ho visto i tuoi video anche quello di palooza.non ti sembra che forse stai trascurando kili ! forse mi sbaglio ma guardando i video io vedo questo.riguardo i prezzi hai ragione anche in italia è la stessa cosa.la fiera più importante è quella di REGGIO EMILIA che si svolge il 20-21 novembre prossimo.ciao.................
[quote="laducockatiel":14kjxyr9]Are cockatiels allowed to eat bread like Truman did in the vid?[/quote:14kjxyr9]
Mine don't like fresh white bread. They wait for it to get crispy.
The do it all kinds of brown bread when it is fresh.
Yes am going to put him on his harness don't worry I don't relay trust Patrick off harness outside he is a little trouble maker you know how birds are. <----- Patrick the little trouble maker and sweet hart