Saturday, December 31, 2016

Good Company and Happy Trails

Our wish to you for the New Year is Good Company and Happy Trails, wherever they may lead.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

And God Bless Us, Everyone

The Victorians were a demented lot. Perverse and demented. Charles Dickens' Ebenezer Scrooge of A Christmas Carol fame probably epitomized Victorian joviality. We're not sure what these Victorian Christmas cards epitomized. Possibly some perverse Victorian subliminal messaging. One message is clear, however. Birds did not fare well during a Victorian Christmas:

Because nothing says jollity like a flock of glum birds with lighted matches stuck under their wings!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

A photo posted by The Zen Parrot (@the_zen_parrot) on

A video posted by The Zen Parrot (@the_zen_parrot) on

A photo posted by The Zen Parrot (@the_zen_parrot) on

Monday, December 5, 2016

If You Save Someone's Life, You Must Care For Them Forever

RIP Moonbeam 1995? -- 2016

When we first moved to Seattle's Ballard neighborhood in 1999 we found a starving cat in our backyard. Not right away. It took awhile because the cat only came out at night. At first. Thus we named her Moonbeam.

When we found Moonbeam she was already having litters underneath the neighbor's back deck. Once we figured that out we trapped her and took her to the vet to be spayed. Following the procedure we brought her back and released her in our backyard.

As far as we know Moonbeam only had one surviving kitten, which we captured, domesticated, and named Ketchikan. Moonbeam never had any desire, in spite of repeated opportunity, to become domesticated. Her living room was our backyard and she ate at our back porch breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Eventually she felt safe and comfortable enough to start coming out during the days. She was a small cat. She would lounge in our yard during the day, and hide by the house at night.

A free spirit, Moonbeam is sorely missed. She's off chasing parrots over the Rainbow Bridge. We can only hope she had a good life. For a cat, she had a long life. Twenty cat years after all, is like 100 in dog years!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Northwest Parrots Pinup Parrots Calendar for 2017

The mission of Northwest Parrots Fund is simple. Saving Parrots One Parrot At a Time! Introducing the Northwest Parrots Fund Pinup Parrots Calendar for 2017:
Northwest Parrots 2017 Calendar
Want this calendar? Just click on the image above. The Northwest Parrots 2017 Calendar features some real beauties:

Hyacinth Macaw Princess Tara

Timneh African Grey Tillie

Ruby Macaw Mr. Cracker

Congo African Grey Arua

Greenwing Macaw Roxanne

You'll need to purchase the calendar the see the rest of the Northwest Parrots Fund Pinup Parrots. As Good As Advertised! You will not be disappointed. Plus, your purchase supports a worthy cause. Northwest Parrots Fund is a nonprofit charity registered in the State of Washington and recognized as a 501(c)3 nonprofit under the regulations of the Internal Revenue Service.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Zygodactyl Feet

A family of Northern Flickers came to visit our Seattle backyard this Thanksgiving weekend, attracted by the bird feeders out in the yard. Northern Flickers are also known as Orange-winged Flickers and are members of the woodpecker family. Attractive birds for sure, but of particular interest to a parrot person is the fact that flickers, and woodpeckers in general, have zygodactyl feet. Just like parrots.

Zygodactyl is an appropriately dinosaurish word meaning two toes forward and two toes backward. Here our Hyacinth macaw parrot Princess Tara shows off her big zygodactyl feet.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Parrots of Damascus

This is just heartbreaking. On July 7th of this year the Oregon Humane Society (OHS) rescued 245 parrots and other exotic birds that had been confined by a bird breeder to deplorable conditions in a pole barn in Damascus, Oregon, outside of Portland:

According to Oregon Humane Society:

Many of the birds were housed in overcrowded cages filled with feces and waste that was sometimes several inches deep. Cages were often stacked three or four high, with feces and food waste overflowing from the top cages to the cages below. Many of the birds suffered from severe feather plucking and overgrown nails and beaks, while others appeared to be suffering from chronic stress.

In October, a Clackamus County grand jury indicted the breeder on multiple felony counts of criminal animal neglect. Each of the three animal neglect felony charges he faces carries a maximum jail term of five years and a fine of up to $125,000. The three felony counts include all 245 birds rescued, with each count covering multiple animals.

Subsequently the breeder released the birds to the Oregon Humane Society and the birds were transferred to an emergency facility operated by OHS.

OHS has commenced the process of adopting the parrots out. According to Oregon Humane Society:

The birds include a variety of exotic breeds, including African grey parrots, macaws, cockatoos, conures, ring neck doves, pigeons, Amazon parrots, finches and parakeets.

Anyone interested in adopting one or more of the birds, or donating to the rehoming effort by OHS, please go to the online adoption or donation pages here.

Please help.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Wild Parrots of London

Wild parrots native to South Asia and North Africa are ubiquitous in today's London, with a feral population according to some accounts reaching scourge levels.

Two millennia ago in Roman London? Not so much. However, there were parrots in Roman London, ancestors of today's British parrots. But those parrots were depictions on exquisite Roman frescos recently discovered buried below the streets of London.

According to a story published by the Museum of London Archaeology:

An ornate fresco that once adorned the residence of a wealthy Roman citizen has been discovered by a team of our archaeologists at 21 Lime Street, in London. We uncovered the fresco six metres below street level, whilst undertaking archaeological fieldwork for a new office development. Dating to the late 1st century AD, and the first decades of London, it is one of the earliest surviving frescos from Roman Britain.

Thanks to a huge Roman construction project, the fate of this rare wall painting was literally sealed in the ground. In AD 100, construction of the 2nd Forum Basilica, the main civic centre for the city and the largest Roman building ever built north of the Alps, began. In advance of construction of the Forum the area was flattened. The painted wall was deliberately toppled and the Forum immediately built over it, incredibly preserving the fresco for nearly 2000 years.

Discovered face down, the fresco was identified from the distinctive markings of the keyed daub onto which the plaster was attached. The fragile remains, surviving to a width of nearly 2.5 metres and a height of over 1.5 metres, were carefully removed from the site by our archaeological conservators, who lifted the fresco in 16 sections. Each section was supported, undercut and block lifted so that soil encased and protected the plaster.

Back in the lab the conservators worked quickly to micro-excavate the soil whilst it was still damp, to expose the millimetre-thin painted surface beneath. The painting is likely to have decorated a reception room where guests were greeted and entertained. . . The central section, on a background of green and black vertical panels, depicts deer nibbling trees, alongside birds [Indian Ringneck Parrots], fruit and a vine woven around a candelabrum. Red panels, bordered with cream lines, surround the main decorative scheme. The fresco was hand-painted by a skilled artist in natural earth pigments, except one area of red on the twisting vine stem which is picked out in cinnabar, an expensive mercuric sulphide pigment that had to be mined in Spain.

It is not inconceivable that some wealthy Roman packed his companion parrot with him on his travel to London. That we may never know. This fresco demonstrates that ancient Romans regarded parrots highly enough to depict them in all their glory even in their most distant outpost of Britain.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

How's My Driving?

Our Hyacinth Macaw Parrot Princess Tara is 17 years old and says she's the only 17 year old in Seattle without a driver's license.

Maybe we should get an automatic?

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Rainy Day Blues

What to do on a dreary rainy stormy Seattle fall afternoon?

A photo posted by The Zen Parrot (@the_zen_parrot) on

A photo posted by The Zen Parrot (@the_zen_parrot) on

A photo posted by The Zen Parrot (@the_zen_parrot) on

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Parrots and Pastries

If you sell cannoli at an Italian bakery, then your name should be Milan, just like the Italian city. His is!

Parrots and pastries go together like, well, parrots and pasties. Turns out parrots love pastries as much as people do. And just like people, parrots should enjoy pastries in moderation. But an occasional treat is not a problem for our Hyacinth macaw parrot Princess Tara.

One of our favorite stops at Seattle's year around Sunday Ballard Farmers Market, in historic downtown Old Ballard, is West Seattle's Little Prague European Bakery. We stopped to watch Milan dishing out the delectable pastries to a steady stream of customers.

Of course, we couldn't resist. We had to grab a box of cannoli to die for. And did you know, the singular form of cannoli is cannolo? Yes it is. But rest assured, you can't eat just one!

Bon Appétit

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Quoth the Parrot “Nevermore”

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
Only this and nothing more.”

We learned probably as children that there was a raven tapping at Edgar Allan Poe's chamber door. Only this and nothing more. But it might have been a parrot.

Poe originally considered featuring a parrot in his classic poem, because of course, parrots can talk. The parrots that Poe would have known and admired in the early 19th century would have been exotic and colorful macaws brought back by mariners from South America or bright white cockatoos from Australia and the South Pacific. Neither would have been appropriate for the dark and mournful mood Poe wanted to set for the poem.

Our Blue and Gold macaw parrot Aboo, too loud, colorful and boisterous for a dark poem

Goffin's Cockatoo Kid Kadra, too loud, boisterous, and bright; and an outright juvenile delinquent

Not black. Not dark. Not mournful. So Poe decided to feature a raven instead. Black. Mournful. And best of all for Poe, ravens also can talk. As Charles Dickens demonstrated in Barnaby Rudge, a book Poe read and admired. Thus the raven quoth "nevermore".

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Parrot Created God In Her Image

How is it Adam and Eve had a parrot? Albrecht Dürer (German, Nuremberg 1471 - 1528) The Fall of Man (Adam and Eve) 1504

Native to North Africa and India, Ringed-neck parrots or parakeets are established in Germany today, but in the Germany of 1504? Not so much. In medieval Europe parrot keeping was exclusively the domain of the nobility.

A renowned artist like Albrecht Dürer, whose patrons included Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, was used to the rarified atmosphere of medieval courts and most likely saw a parrot or two in his courtly rounds. To illustrate the importance Albrecht Dürer must have assigned to parrots, the Fall of Man was the first engraving that Albrecht Dürer actually signed. And his signature is hanging from the same branch the parrot is perched on.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Fab Four. And Their Parrot

The Beatles arrived in Seattle fifty years ago this past week, August 25, 1966, for their second and last appearance in the Emerald City. Which of course got us to thinking about John, Paul, George, and Ringo. And parrots. Because, why not?

And sure enough:

We found John and Paul posing with a parrot. Though Paul didn't seem particularly happy about it.

Ringo, however, was clearly comfortable with the Blue and Gold macaw on his shoulder.

John seemed to have a particular affinity for this Blue and Gold macaw parrot.

We're still searching for a photo of George with a parrot. Don't think this one counts.

Here's George in the vicinity of a parrot. If anybody knows of a photo of George with a parrot, please send us a link and we will happily post it.

Even better, if anyone knows the backstory to the Blue and Gold macaw parrot on set with The Beatles please share!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Feathered Hoodlums

This story, in its entirety, appeared on New Zealand's Stuff website.

Kea [parrot] ruffles residents' feathers in Marlborough
By Paula Hulburt
August 18 2016

A kea has been spotted in Onamalutu Valley, west of Blenheim

Residents in rural Marlborough are on the lookout for a feathered hoodlum vandalising property.

A rogue kea has been spotted in the Onamalutu Valley, about 25 kilometres west of Blenheim, leaving bicycle seats and spa pool covers in its wake.

The Department of Conservation has warned residents to keep an eye out for the troublesome bird.

Letters have gone out to homeowners asking them to actively discourage the cheeky parrots by squirting them with water from a hose.

DOC biosecurity supervisor Mike Avis said the birds had not been seen in the valley for a number of years.

"They are hoons and hoodlums and shouldn't be encouraged," he said. "They are usually found in the Richmond ranges so are a bit off their patch."

It was unconfirmed whether it was one or two birds wreaking havoc in the Onamalutu as reports differed and they had not been seen together.

"Tempting as it may be to feed them and keep them around it is not the best thing for them," Avis said. "They get bored and are clever birds who like to find out about their environments. They are inquisitive and that's how they get into trouble and how they've learnt to survive in areas where other parrots can't.

"They get up on the roofs of older style homes and eat the lead piping and it kills them."

DOC sent out the letters last week as a precaution and worked in conjunction with the Kea Conservation Trust to ensure people knew what to do.

The kea was the only truly alpine parrot in the world, and gained early notoriety among settler farmers for attacks on sheep. Their antics were a source of amusement to many but they also had a reputation for causing chaos.

Kea were unusual in that they actively sought out and interacted with people and their property.

Avis said the parrots loved to go exploring.

"They definitely have their foibles and people either love them or don't want them around."

Anyone who sees a kea should contact DOC to report the sighting and to get advice on 03 572 9100.

Without a doubt this has to be the finest piece of unintentionally sarcastic news writing this year:

DOC biosecurity supervisor Mike Avis said the birds had not been seen in the valley for a number of years. "They are hoons and hoodlums and shouldn't be encouraged," he said. "They are usually found in the Richmond ranges so are a bit off their patch."

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Are You Ready For Some Football?

Are You Ready For Some Football? What is up with the Rio Olympics, anyway? We're still trying to wrap our head around the idea of holding Summer Olympics where it's Winter in Rio!

It's been a long drought since February. Our Seattle SeaParrots are super-excited to finally see some real NFL football on TV. Especially our SeaPrincess our Hyacinth macaw parrot Princess Tara. But heck, all of our parrots love the noise, action, and excitement of a football game.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Blue Tara Mantra: Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha

Blue Tara Mantra: Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha

Blue Tara, known as Ekajati in Tibetan mythology, is one of the 21 Taras, and one of the most fierce and powerful Goddesses.

According to Tibetan legend, Blue Tara is a manifestation of the Bon Goddess of Heaven, whose right eye was pierced by the tantric master Guru Padmasambhava, so that She could much more efficaciously help him subjugate Tibetan demons.

She is known as the mother of the mothers of all the Buddhas.