During my two recent trips to Ginger's Parrot Rescue in Casa Grande Arizona, I got to see first hand the winding story of the lost and found Galah. I was visiting the rescue on my first trip to help get things set up for the new facility grand opening event and then I returned in a week with my birds to give presentations at the event itself. While this was all happening, a mysterious Galah came into our lives.
On the cold rainy morning of February 21, 2019, while out shopping for supplies, Ginger received a phone call from a lady that spotted a parrot outside her window. She described the bird as being "grey with a red mane". Ginger was not completely convinced that it was a parrot and worried that it may have just been one of the feral lovebirds that are frequently spotted in the valley. Ginger asked the woman to text her a photo of the bird and the moment she saw the picture, Ginger knew right away that it was a Rose Breasted Cockatoo (Galah).
We dropped what we were doing and started to drive to Queen Creek. Already on the road, Ginger was instructing the woman who found the bird on how to try to catch it. By the time Ginger would get to the neighborhood, the bird could be long gone and impossible to find so it was very important to either catch or keep an eye on it. The woman called Ginger back and told her that she managed to catch the bird but that she was leaving in 15 minutes to the airport for a flight! She asked her mother-in-law to come over and wait for Ginger to come and pick up the bird.
Ginger was caught a bit off guard because she was out shopping and did not have a carrier to take the bird in. So, she stopped by a pet store and bought a carrier to be able to transport the found parrot in.
When Ginger arrived to the house, the mother-in-law was waiting and showed the bird being held in a laundry basket. Ginger swiftly picked up the bird and discovered that it was really emaciated by the protruding keel bone. She wasted no time in getting the bird an emergency visit at the local avian veterinarian.
Once the parrot was stabilized by the veterinarian, Ginger set about the task of reuniting the parrot with its rightful owner. At first, it seemed like a pretty easy task. Ginger came across a few lost Galah ads online and thought it was likely it was one of those peoples' bird. But pretty soon things started to get more crazy. Ginger's phone was going off all day with calls from people saying it could be their bird. To make things even more confusing, some people messaged and called which made Ginger feel even more overwhelmed as though there is an even greater number of people who think it is their bird.
Some of the potential owners were weeded out more quickly. For example, some stated that their bird had light eyes indicating that it is a female whereas the found Cockatoo had dark eyes indicating that it is a male. Other people were just way too far away, like out of state. Pretty quickly, Ginger narrowed down the list to just a few people that could legitimately be the parrot's owner. However, the bird was still in dire condition at the vet's office. It was still being given fluids and was weak and tired. It was unlikely that the owner would be able to recognize the bird because of how bad it looked and how sedate it was. Ginger had to postpone any meetings with potential owners until the next week in order to give the bird time to recover.
Ginger and I went to check up on the bird over the weekend and found it to be better but still pretty rough. He had started eating but looked tired and sedate. He seemed more indifferent to our presence than interested or scared.
A few days later Ginger got a call from the vet that the Cockatoo was doing better and was moved into the room with other boarding birds. However, the Cockatoo did not seem interested in other birds or people. At this point, Ginger started setting up meetings with some of the people who had recently lost a Galah to see if it is their bird. Ginger had those people come to the vet office to see the Cockatoo.
Ginger wheeled the cage into the visiting room and had the possible owner interact with the bird. Ginger was trying to see if the bird would make any known vocalizations, show a reaction, or step up for the person. Unfortunately the Galah was not responding to the people who would come to visit. In fact it would try to retreat to a distant part of the cage and absolutely would not step up. It was clear to both Ginger and the folks who came to visit that it was not their lost Galah.
I went back home to prepare to come back for Ginger's big event while Ginger continued the search for the rightful owner. Proving ownership of the bird was proving to be a difficult but important task. Without a microchip or leg band, there was no simple way to prove that someone owned the bird. Ginger was afraid that someone could lie that it is their bird so that they could claim and then sell it. This is why Ginger had to be a bit secretive and tricky in order to avoid any potential scammers. She asked callers particular questions that might help identify the bird.
With the bird in better condition and no owner found, Ginger had to take the Galah away from the vet and back to her rescue. She set up a large cage and continued feeding the bird well so he would regain weight. Ginger was becoming less optimistic about finding the original owner and was beginning to plan to search for an adopter once the 30 day owner search period was over.
I flew back to Arizona for the big event. This time in my airplane with wife, birds, and supplies. The new facility grand opening event and open house were a huge success. People from all over the Phoenix area came out to see the new rescue. Many of them marveled at the Galah and wished him a good home.
Then, one day before I was scheduled to depart, an incredible thing happened! Ginger got a call from a woman who was already on her way to pick her son up from school to come and see if it was their lost Cockatoo. When Ginger heard that they had lost their parrot 2 years ago, Ginger's optimism waned and she didn't want to waste their time. However, in half an hour they showed up at her door and were convinced there was a greater calling that brought them there.
From the moment they walked into the room, the Galah seemed to perk up. For the first time since we met him, he raised his crest. Not all the way, but it was more than any time prior (even when we tried to get him excited). He let out a few chirps but was otherwise pretty calm. Ok, he seemed alert but maybe it was just because of visitors and by now all the meds wore off. The boy went up to the cage and the bird did not seem scared. At first, the parrot just watched but soon he started to come closer.
The mom went over to the cage and showed a video of her son playing the harp. The bird seemed curious but for all we knew, it could have been curious about any music. But then he walked up to the edge of the cage and gave the mom a kiss! He had not made contact with anyone else including the vet, myself, and Ginger! Soon after, the bird was giving kisses to the boy as well. And before long, with the door open, the Galah came out all by himself! He stepped up onto the mother's hand and recognized his carrier that they brought with them. It was the bird that recognized and showed us who his owner was!
The family got the Galah, named Echo, as a baby and he was just 1 year old when he flew out of a window. He had been missing for 2 years. It was amazing that he had spent more than 2/3 of his life away from them but that they were the only people he responded to. However, after bring apart so long and growing up as such on his own, there would be a lot of work getting him back to being tame and good with people. So, I gave them a signed copy of my book, The Parrot Wizard's Guide to Well-Behaved Parrots to help them rekindle their relationship. They took Echo home that night and he immediately recognized his cage and went to his favorite perch.
So if you or anyone you know has lost a pet, never give up! There is always a chance that it will come back to you. Here is the story of one such miracle of a Cockatoo that was lost for 2 years and ended up back with his family!
Happy New Year! 2018 has been such an exciting year with so much great Parrot Wizard stuff going on. I'm thrilled looking back at how much has happened in the course of 2018 and looking forward to what 2019 may bring.
I wish you and your flock success, health, happiness, and mutual harmony! Happy New Year to you your flock from the Parrot Wizard!
Here is a recap of some of the highlights of 2018:
I would like to extend a warm thank you to Andreas Zenger, Tor Arne Fallingen, Zac Marcus, Jack Lance, Lori Thorpe, Giovanna, Fletcher Hollingsworth for allowing me to be part of their events and visits! And I would like to especially thank all of my viewers, readers, buyers, followers, and friends for being a part of this whole 2018 Parrot Wizard experience. Thank you very much and have a Happy New Year!
Here's a Parrot Wizard 2018 Recap compilation video to sum it all up:
On October 6/7 I had the pleasure of being the headline speaker at the 2018 Bird Paradise Parrot Palooza. The Parrot Palooza is the huge annual event with the biggest sale of the year at the Bird Paradise store.
Located in Burlington New Jersey, Bird Paradise is one of the largest bird stores in the US. They have an enormous selection of toys, bird food, and supplies to choose from. The annual Parrot Palooza event is one of the biggest parrot events in the country and the world. With over 2,000 attendees coming from far and wide, it's a parrot extravaganza like no other.
In addition to headline speakers, the Parrot Palooza also features: free food, door prizes, penguine races, face painting, chinese auction, parrot shows, make your own bird toy, pumpkin carving, cage building contest, toy making contest, vendors, and huge sale. Fun for bird lovers of all ages.
Now the first time I had gone to Parrot Palooza was back in 2010 when Truman was still a baby. Back then it was a smaller event and didn't have the enormous parking lot tent. I got to meet Dr. Irene Pepperburg from the Alex Studies and attend her talks. So now, 8 years later, it was my honor and pleasure to get to fill that same role as headline speaker at the Parrot Palooza as the Parrot Wizard.
What can I say? The birds were good. Kili did all of her tricks like a champ. Truman was a chatter box as usual. Rachel was big and pretty and drew a lot of praise. All three wore their Aviator Harnesses all day long and were ambassadors for how a pet parrot should safely go outside.
Countless people asked me "how did you get that harness on them!?" or exclaimed, "my parrot would never let me stick one on it." Every time my response was, "we don't get the harness onto the parrot, they put it on themselves." When the parrot is trained how to put on the harness and wants to put it on, it looks something like this:
Truman meets a Golden Conure
Michael presenting at Parrot Palooza
Parrotsrus with Curacao
Lori with Rachel
Lori, the one who adopted Santina from me, came to the event to help us out. Rachel and Lori quickly became friends. Lori really enjoyed the Palooza and said she was "still grinning from ear to ear... Beautiful friends. Beautiful Parrots. Great time!!" She was thrilled to meet people she had been following online and mentioned, "for me, I enjoyed meeting instagram people."
It was a thrill getting to meet so many fans at the event. I signed books and chatted with parrot owners. My presentations were routine but enthusiastically watched by huge audiences. Kili helped me demonstrate how exciting trick training can be and Truman and Rachel helped illustrate how parrots can be taught to play with their toys.
All in all, it was an exciting event, great food, wonderful participants, big sales, and an all around fantastic way for people to be excited about their pet parrots. Here's a video recap of all the Parrot Palooza action:
Marianna and I recently took a trip to Pigeon Forge Tennessee. While visiting Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and the beautiful Smokey Mountains, we had a chance to go to Parrot Mountain. Parrot Mountain is unlike any zoo or bird park you have ever seen!
Parrot Mountain is a one of a kind experience for parrot lovers. It is the only major bird park I'm aware of that focuses primarily on parrots. They do have a nice collection of other birds as well, but their focus on parrots is quite unique.
A visit to the park starts with some exhibits of various bird species. Then it takes you through a walk through flight aviary. But most exciting of all is the parrot feeding area. They have probably a hundred parrots out on stands that you can see up close and feed. Buy a handful of seeds from the vending machine for a quarter and then you can be the parrots' favorite visitor!
We got to see up close and experience too many different species to count but just a few of the more exotic ones included Sun Conure, Blue Crowned Conure, Patagonian Conure, Alexandrine Parakeet, Great Billed Parrot, African Grey, Cape Parrot, Eclectus, Scarlet Macaw, Military Macaw, Hyacinth Macaw, Moluccan Cockatoo, Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo, and Red Tailed Black Cockatoo. Marianna had a field day getting to feed and hold the female Red Tailed Black Cockatoo. She recalled how we got to see them in the wild in Australia, but not anywhere near as close!
Some of the parrots on exhibit were brought a long time ago from the wild, others were bred at Parrot Mountain, and others were relinquished. The park acts as a complete facilitator of parrots in the region. They breed, sell, display, and accept rescued parrots. You can see the babies for sale in their nursery building.
Parrot Mountain is famous for offering to have your picture taken with close to a dozen birds. I was amazed not only how cooperative and patient their photo-parrots were but also how well they all got along with each other. The woman who brings them over for photos can be seen walking with a dozen parrots hanging off her chewed up shirt from every side. It was almost as though their beak was a carabiner hook for clipping onto her shirt. She was truly a parrot taxi!
They have a lorikeet feeding aviary where you can have lorikeets fly up to you and sip nectar. Parrot Mountain also houses the "garden of eden," a secluded Christian exhibit in the forest covered country side. They also have a small cafe (with parrot on the menu) and a gift shop with lots of parrot related merch. All around a must-see sight for any parrot lover visiting the Pigeon Forge area in Tennessee and even a reason in itself to head out there.
Here's a video of my visit to Parrot Mountain including an interview with the parks owner:
Happy 10th Birthday Kili! Kili my Senegal Parrot turns 10 years old today. I have had her for almost as long since she was 4 months old.
It is amazing to look back at all the amazing things we have done together. In the beginning, Kili and I learned parrot training together. On one hand I was training her to do tricks but on the other hand she also taught me all about what works and doesn't. By the time Kili was a year old, she already learned and was able to perform 20 tricks in 2 minutes.
My next challenge was teaching Kili to fly. Her wings were originally clipped by the store I got her from. However, never again. I let Kili's flight feathers grow back out and she has been flying ever since. I used a similar method as the trick training to teach her to fly to me and where she should and shouldn't go. Although, a bird, Kili's first flight was with me in an airplane! Before her feathers grew back and she learned to fly under her own power, I had been taking Kili flying with my in airplanes. She has always been a bird of the air.
I taught Kili to wear an Aviator Harness leash so that I could take her outdoors with me for fresh air, flying, and socialization. We were a team and would go anywhere together. She has traveled across the country with me to Wisconsin, Texas, Arizona, and many more places.
By the time Kili was 2, Kili was no longer an only bird. I added Truman to the family and Kili had to learn to share my attention with others. I continued training Kili and Truman together and they formed the basis of the Trained Parrot team.
I kept training Kili to fly outside with an Aviator Harness and for some time even let her fly free.
Kili got to perform in public for audience big and small. She did trick shows for classrooms, for entire schools, parrot clubs, and even on TV. She performed tricks on America's Got Talent, the Steve Harvey Show, and the Late Show with David Letterman. She also continued to star in her own hit youtube videos including Wrecking Ball, Shake it Off, and Shot my Parrot Dead. Kili has been an ace at playing dead and does a very convincing performance. So convincing in fact, that a follow up video had to be made to analyze whether or not she had really died in another video.
Kili also helps people learn how to teach tricks to their own parrots and has appeared both on How Cast and the Parrot Wizard Youtube channel with valuable lessons. Kili was also the Best Bird at my wedding while Truman was the Bird of Honor.
Lately, Kili enjoys flying in my enclosed backyard and spending time with me. She has always been my go to bird. She is just so good at training and so reliable that I know if the other birds can't manage, that she definitely will.