Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year From The Zen Parrot!

Happy New Year from
The Zen Parrot!

We can only hope that 2012 is an improvement over 2011!

And certainly no New Year's Eve would be complete without Jimmy Stewart!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

World's Only Rock Band Fronted by a Parrot


As someone with two African grey parrots, we were thrilled to find a rock band fronted by a nineteen year old Congo African grey parrot named WaldoFounded in 2003, Hatebeak is a Baltimore Death Metal band comprising vocals by Waldo, Blake Harrison on drums, and Mark Sloan on guitar.

Hatebeak is strictly a studio project. No live music. No tours. We can just imagine the complications of trying to tour with an African grey parrot. Blake and Mark are accomplished studio engineers. Thanks to the power of modern digital recording technology, Waldo’s spontaneously-timed squawks and poetic lyrics could be captured and fine-tuned. Breaking out of the traditional confines of melody, Waldo creates a new vocal language. 

The band is signed to the Baltimore hardcore label Reptilian Records. So it's Death Metal. We went through a Heavy Metal phase years ago. You're probably wondering what a Death Metal band sounds like? We were too. Their sound is described as "a jackhammer being ground in a compactor." Ready for this? Here goes:

Beak of Putrefaction, Released 2004

Bird Seeds of Vengeance, Released 2005

According to the notes posted with the video: There are no intelligible lyrics, the vocals are that of an African Grey parrot doing senseless death-squawking. Can't get enough? Here's more:

Feral Parrot, Released 2007

We find the music strangely mesmerizing. Not sure if that's the sign of a deranged mind. Or what? But if you still can't get enough, Hatebeak has a new album in the works, The Number of the Beak. No word yet on the release date.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Carol of the Bells

Merry Christmas and Season's Greetings
from The Zen Parrot!


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Ye Who Now Will Bless the Poor Shall Yourselves Find Blessing

Good King Wenceslas has always been one of our favorite Christmas carols. The story of a Tenth Century Saint, Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia, bravely battling the winter cold to give alms to a poor peasant on the Feast of Stephen, the Second Day of Christmas.

Does a Nineteenth Century Christmas carol based on a Thirteenth century melody about a Tenth Century Saint have relevance to Twenty-first Century America? Besides being a catchy tune? We think so. The last line of the song sums up the meaning and spirit of Christmas to us in a nutshell:

Ye who now will bless the poor Shall yourselves find blessing

Christmas in America today has come to focus on accumulation, materialism, and greed. Pepper spray at Walmart. Riots at Nike. What we buy has displaced what we give as the contemporary meaning of Christmas. We say the spirit of Christmas is found not in all the junk and trinkets we buy and accumulate. The spirit of Christmas comes from helping those who need help. And not just once or twice a year, but all the year around. Tax cuts for billionaires, and blaming the poor for being lazy, are not exactly what John Mason Neale had in mind when he penned this carol:

Good King Wenceslas
(lyrics by John Mason Neale)

Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the feast of Stephen
When the snow lay round about
Deep and crisp and even
Brightly shone the moon that night
Though the frost was cruel
When a poor man came in sight
Gath'ring winter fuel

"Hither, page, and stand by me
If thou know'st it, telling
Yonder peasant, who is he?
Where and what his dwelling?"
"Sire, he lives a good league hence
Underneath the mountain
Right against the forest fence
By Saint Agnes' fountain."

"Bring me flesh and bring me wine
Bring me pine logs hither
Thou and I will see him dine
When we bear him thither."
Page and monarch forth they went
Forth they went together
Through the rude wind's wild lament
And the bitter weather

"Sire, the night is darker now
And the wind blows stronger
Fails my heart, I know not how,
I can go no longer."
"Mark my footsteps, my good page
Tread thou in them boldly
Thou shalt find the winter's rage
Freeze thy blood less coldly."

In his master's steps he trod
Where the snow lay dinted
Heat was in the very sod
Which the Saint had printed
Therefore, Christian men, be sure
Wealth or rank possessing
Ye who now will bless the poor
Shall yourselves find blessing

By the Way: We love the R.E.M. 1989 Fanclub single version of Good King Wenceslas:

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

December 21, 2012

The one year countdown begins now. The one year countdown to what? You ask. Apparently you haven't been paying attention to John Cusak.

Some New Age types regard December 21, 2012 as the end date of a 5,125 year long cycle documented by the Mayan (or Mesoamerican) Long Count Calendar. The end of this cycle will bring at best physical and spiritual transformation of the planet and its people, or at worst total calamity, such as the Earth colliding with a passing asteroid or black hole.

Mayan Calendar Fragment from Second Century CE

Scientists generally consider these New Age concepts to be junk pseudoscience. We'll know for sure one year from today. You might want to hold off buying Christmas presents next year.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Look Sharp! Feel Sharp! Be Sharp! When Rock N' Roll and Parrots Collide: Gillette's Singing Parrot Sharpie

We vaguely remember growing up with television during the 1950s and 1960s. We have very fuzzy memories of commercials on the television of that era. Doctors hawking cigarettes. Brylcreem. Maxwell House Coffee. The one brand we distinctly remember is Burma Shave, probably because of the Burma Shave signs along the long lonely Nevada highways of our youth. What we do not remember is Gillette's singing parrot Sharpie, featured on television from 1952 to 1960: Sharpie debuted in 1952 during the very first ever World Series broadcast!

Being the 1950s, Sharpie was a Rock N' Roll pioneer:

Gillette's singing parrot Sharpie was a fixture of boxing and sporting broadcasts until 1960.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Buddy's New Beak: The Technology Revolution: Prosthetic Beaks for Parrots

Buddy's New Beak
Photos Courtesy Betsy Lott, Mollywood Avian Sanctuary

We have been fortunate that none of our parrots have ever lost a beak in an accident or animal attack. Unfortunately we know people with parrots that have lost beaks. It's not a pretty situation. In the past, options for rehabilitation have been limited. But now, with new materials and new reconstructive techniques, we are starting to see prosthetic beaks as a viable alternative.

Twenty-nine year old Umbrella Cockatoo Buddy, Before

Buddy is a twenty-nine year old Umbrella Cockatoo parrot, currently residing at Mollywood Avian Sanctuary in Bellingham, Washington. Buddy lost part of his beak in an attack by another Umbrella Cockatoo. He was bitten in the beak and the growth plate between the nares was forever damaged. At first, Mollywood's Betsy Lott thought it would grow out normally. After some time however, the fissure decayed and a huge chunk fell out. Betsy Lott began to worry what that would mean for Buddy.

After initial reconstruction

Buddy needed a new beak. Since he couldn't grow one, a new beak needed to be constructed for him! The architect of Buddy's new acrylic beak is avian veterinarian Dr. Bridget Ferguson with Animal Health Care Center of Renton, Washington.

Dr. Ferguson used a mold to create Buddy's new beak, described by Betsy Lott as a:

"Kind of a hoaky homemade thing that didn’t exactly go as planned. It was some wax lined drinking cups (overgown Dixie) that we cut and spiraled. The thing sticking up with the blue tip was something we used to keep Buddy's nare open so the compound didn’t fill in. When the mold came off, we were like, 'Uh oh.' Not exactly what we were hoping for but thank god for dremels. We dremeled the holy heck out of it."

The acrylic compound is brand new to the market, produced by
Imex Veterinary Products.
 The acrylic compound was originally used as a fixing agent for setting pins in bones for broken limbs. Most importantly for parrots, the compound is practically odorless, unlike most acrylic compounds on the market. Imagine how the birds must feel waking up to the odor following their procedures!
Dr. Ferguson
reported that in all the years she’s been doing beak repairs, this was the first time she had a bird wake up without sinus issues or irritation. 
Betsy Lott
Mollywood Avian Sanctuary
pleaded with the president of
to let them experiment with the compound on
agreed to put
in their Beta program. The white acrylic compound used on
is opaque and not conducive to x-rays, so
is developing a clear formula for future release.
couldn't wait for the clear acrylic compound to be developed. He needed a functional beak!

According to Betsy Lott, Buddy needed his new beak filled after two and one-half months. Dr. John Berry with Lynden Veterinary Hospital let Betsy use his office in Lynden, Washington. Aided by notes and copious photographs taken from the surgery with Dr. FergusonBetsy Lott was assisted by Dr. Berry's licensed veterinary technician Keri Griffith, currently studying dentistry in mammals. Buddy's new acrylic beak required delicate work, sweat, patience, dremels, and hammers. And one gutsy parrot!

Buddy's New Beak

In a future blog post we will investigate the evolving science and engineering behind prosthetic parrot beaks. Stay tuned!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Work in Progress: Prosthetic Beaks in Parrots

This is a fascinating story that we are working on, and we wanted to put this teaser out to our audience:

Prosthetic beaks in parrots! What to do if your parrot looses all or part of a beak? This is the story about Buddy, a twenty-nine year old Umbrella Cockatoo parrot residing at Mollywood Avian Sanctuary in Bellingham, Washington. Buddy lost part of his beak when he was attacked by another Cockatoo parrot.

Buddy before Reconstruction:

Buddy during Reconstruction:

Buddy, with Avian Veterinarian Dr. Bridget Ferguson, of the Animal Health Care Center of Renton, Washington, who led the reconstruction effort:

Buddy's new beak, after a whole lot of dremeling by Mollywood's
Betsy Lott:

As they say: Stay tuned for the rest of the story!