Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Parrot Tattoo Boogaloo

The Famous Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill

Parrots Rock! We have a bunch of them. We don't mind parrot beaks. We're used to them. But we've never in our life had a tattoo. Fear of needles and other sharp implements. But to celebrate our sixtieth birthday in September, we've decided to get tattooed. With parrots. Of course. But not just a single parrot. A whole pandemonium of parrots!

We've been searching far and wide for the tattoo we like enough to actually sit and let a total stranger apply sharp implements to our skin. And where else but San Francisco's renowned North Beach tattoo emporium, the Tattoo Boogaloo! One of their artists, Deanna Wardin, created a tattoo inspired by the Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hillthe Cherry-headed or Mitred Conures of San Francisco:

Artist: Deanna Wardin

We just love this tattoo! And fittingly, the same species of feral parrot, the Mitred Conures, can be found here in Seattle, in at least two different locations.

Mitred Conures Photographed in Seattle's Golden Gardens Park

Support your local invasive species!

Monday, August 29, 2011

We Wish We Could Blog More About Parrots. We Really Do!

We wish we could blog more, and more frequently, about parrots (as well as politics and coffee). We really do! Thing is, we have eight (count them: 8) actual parrots that we have to care for that demand our time and attention. As well as operating the parrot rescue Northwest Parrots Fund, and an online coffee shop The Parrot Cafe. That and the fact that we have to work for a living to support our parrots and parrot activities!

Mr. Cracker

A Ruby macaw (Greenwing/Scarlet mix) believed to be about forty years old, and a presumed male, Mr Cracker has been with us a year now. We rescued him when his owner of twenty-five years suddenly took terminally ill. After six months Mr. Cracker finally let me touch him. Now he begs for head scratches. He won't yet step up with me though. Mr. Cracker has taken to calling me Mark, his previous owner's name.


Tillie is a confirmed female Timneh African grey parrot who is by far our smallest parrot and one of the sweetest parrots anyone will ever encounter. She came to us when her owner could no longer care for her. She loves flying laps around her bird room when she's not sitting on the window sill watching the wild birds out back. If I set her down anywhere, she automatically flies to my shoulder. Whenever I walk into her room, Tillie automatically reminds me: Hi Sweetie! It's Me! Just in case I get her confused with any other Timneh African grey parrot that might be around!

Kid Kadra

Kid Kadra is a confirmed male Goffin's cockatoo parrot who served as a service parrot for a fellow with serious medical issues. We rescued Kid Kadra when that person suddenly died. His death was not discovered for several days. When Kid Kadra came to us he was comatose for two weeks. As is the character of Goffin's cockatoos, Kid Kadra is a typical teenage juvenile delinquent. Except that he loves to bathe. He would take a shower every day if given the opportuniity.


Arua is a confirmed female Congo African grey parrot whose owner also suddenly and unexpectedly died. His death was not discovered for three days, until a worried girlfriend (who lived across the state) alerted family members to his disappearance. Arua is a big girl by African grey standards and one of the friendliest African greys anyone will ever find. She insists on being part of any conversation in the house, and is the resident linguist. Arua came to us speaking Polish as well as English. She speaks dog as well as cat, and any number of avian dialects.


Aboo is our cowboy Blue and Gold macaw. Named for Aladdin's sidekick, the name fits. Unlike the other parrots, he would much rather not take a bath. A confirmed male, Aboo was literally dumped on our doorstep, considered to be unmanageable and unhandleable! Now I can literally hold him in the palm of my hand. Aboo has become a good friend to our Ruby macaw Mr. Cracker.

Princess Tara

Princess Tara is a confirmed female Hyacinth macaw, and as far as I can tell, probably the largest parrot in Seattle. She really is a princess! Her parents are a Duke and a Duchess. Princess Tara is one big girl! And she is a cuddle bunny and goofball, the classic ugly duckling who doesn't realize just how spectacularly beautiful she is. Princess Tara had been passed around to at least three different homes before she came to us, primarily because she knows she is big, and doesn't mind throwing her weight around. That, and the fact that when she starts her Hyacinth honking, she can blow your eardrums out!

Miss Bubba Boy

Miss Bubba Boy is a confirmed female Blue and Gold macaw that we rescued from a breeder who needed a male macaw for his breeding facility. Bubba's original owner was so sure that Bubba was a boy he never bothered to have her sexed. We did. We paid fifty bucks for a DNA test, but we kept her name anyway. She calls herself Bubba Boy! We could have saved the money! Within a month, Bubba laid her first clutch of eggs. She has laid two clutches of eggs since she's been with us. Bubba immediately bonded to my partner, and tried to attack me every opportunity she got for about two years. Eventually we reached a detente. Now Bubba even hucks for me. Plus she knows that no one appreciates looking at her wings as much as I do!


Our Diva parrot and Greenwing macaw Roxanne was named for The Police song. She even knows the lyrics! Roxanne also knows the lyrics to the Gene Autry song You Are My Sunshine. We recorded a duet with Roxanne and Gene Autry. The Gene Autry Museum in Los Angeles was so impressed, they sent us a nice note.

We acquired Roxanne when we answered an ad in the Sunday classifieds. Roxanne's owner got divorced. Got remarried. Was moving out of state. The new wife gave him an ultimatum: Her or the parrot. We don't think he made the right choice. The first time we met Roxanne, she immediately stepped up with both of us. Roxanne's owner was astounded. She had refused to step up with any of the other people that had answered his ad. He dropped her asking price in half, and we came home with our first parrot.

We only ever intended to get the one! The rest, as they say, is history.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Captive Bird Campaign

Parrots: Don't Breed! Don't Buy! Adopt! shirt

Parrots are not like dogs and cats, with 10,000 years of domestication behind them. Simply put: Parrots are wild animals! Wild animals should stay in the wild. Like raptors, parrots are not animals that are suitable to be pets. People can not simply walk into PetSmart and buy a hawk or a falcon. Ownership of raptors requires specialized training, education, and licensing. Why should parrots be treated any differently?

Regarding companion parrots, we have a simple credo:

Parrots: Don't Breed! Don't Buy! Adopt!

We understand that tens of millions of companion parrots will never be returned to the wild. But there is absolutely no reason to keep breeding and selling hand-raised companion parrots. We firmly believe that the commercial breeding and sale of companion parrots needs to be halted, at least for any parrots that are listed as Threatened or Endangered by CITES. Therefore, we heartily endorse The Captive Bird Campaign:

The Captive Bird Campaign is launched by the California-based animal rights organization In Defense of Animals (IDAUSA). The goal of the Captive Bird Campaign is simple:

Our goal is to help create a better world for parrots by stopping the exploitation and sale of parrots in chain stores such as PetCo, PetSmart, and Petland. Helping the public understand that parrots are wild creatures who do not belong in captivity will reduce the sale of parrots. This will ultimately decrease the number of unwanted and homeless parrots and prevent unnecessary suffering.

Parrots rank only behind dogs and cats in popularity as pets. Considering the potential lifespan of parrots, companion parrots will be with us for some time to come. We only ask: If you are considering acquiring a companion parrot, please:

Don't Breed! Don't Buy! Adopt!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Prince and a Parrot

Can a desert oil sheik save a nearly extinct Brazilian macaw?

This is the story of an unlikely love affair between a prince and a parrot! The prince is a Qatari oil sheik by the name of Saoud Bin Muhammed Bin Ali Al-Thani. The parrot is the Spix's macaw, (Cyanopsitta spixii) named for the German naturalist Johann Baptist von Spix, who discovered the parrot in 1817.

The world's rarest parrot has not been seen in the wild in this century. Less than 100 individuals survive around the world in private aviaries and collections. Endemic to northern Brazil, the Spix's macaw was last spotted in the wilds of Brazil in the year 2000.

The prince is an oil sheik from the hot dusty sands of Qatar, and thanks to his love for this parrot, has single-handedly insured the survival of this species and possibly its reintroduction into the wild.

Beginning in 1999, Sheik Saoud Bin Muhammed Bin Ali Al-Thani turned a private hobby farm inherited from his father into a world class research facility, the 1.6 square mile Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation Center. To view a photo gallery of the center, click here.

The sheik had an eye for beauty, and the wealth to satisfy his collecting instinct. Prior to 2001, when Qatar signed on to the CITES accords, he scoured the world collecting unique specimens for his father's private menagerie. Then he discovered the Spix's macaw.

At the time there were probably forty individual parrots surviving in private hands and small collections around the world, the largest being Loro Parque. which currently has eight Spix's macaws in its conservation breeding program. The sheik purchased every Spix's macaw he could get his hands on from collectors around the world, including black market sources, and brought them to his Qatari compound. Hiring world-renowned biologists and veterinarians to oversea a conservation breeding program, the sheik has successfully hatched twenty-four Spix's macaws at Al Wabra, which now supports (at last count) fifty-five of the macaws, a whopping seventy-five percent of the surviving population of Spix's macaws. The future of this beautiful Brazilian parrot clearly rests in the hands of an oil sheik thousands of miles away from its home range!

The sheik has purchased a 6,000 acre farm in northern Brazil, where the parrots will relocate, along with Ryan Watson, the Australian head of Al Wabra's Spix's macaw breeding program, and his wife, the Brazilian macaw specialist Monalyssa Camandaroba Watson. The move is scheduled to occur by 2013.

Ryan Watson, head of the Al Wabra Spix's macaw breeding program,
with one of his blue macaws.

Al Wabra plans to build a hatchery, nursery, and aviary on their Brazilian farm. Step by step, they will slowly reintroduce the species into the wild. First, they will test the process with the more abundant Illiger's macaw, better known as the Blue-winged macaw.

Ryan Watson rates their chances of ultimate success no better than fifty-fifty. But he and the sheik are determined to try. As Watson has stated: "Wild animals belong in the wild. Otherwise, what we're doing is not conservation."

If only every endangered parrot had its prince to save it!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Requiem for a Shop Vac

Parrot people can appreciate this. Sometimes it seems we spend half our days on our knees cleaning parrot poop off the floor. With eight parrots, including five macaws, this can seem to be an unending and thankless task!

We discovered Shop Vacs about a century ago (they were actually first created about 1970) and we can't imagine life without one. Tragically, our Shop Vac croaked this weekend.

Since we have to work during the week to support our parrots and our parrot nonprofit Northwest Parrots Fund, we accomplish most of our serious cage and floor cleaning on weekends. With our Shop Vac down and out, we faced our cleaning chores this weekend armed only with our trusty little Dirt Devil:

Sadly, this little Dirt Devil just doesn't have the power or capacity of our old Shop Vac! We are in a real bind until we can acquire another Shop Vac.

If anyone in the Seattle area has a spare Shop Vac to donate to a good cause, please message us. Anyone with funds to donate towards the purchase of a new Shop Vac, please click on the Support Our Blog button on the sidebar on the left side of this blog.

We and our parrots thank you very much!