Parrot Clubs: Do You Go to One?

Bonnie and Alfie, Green-winged Macaws (photo by Ben Coulson)

I was lucky enough this week to present a talk about free-flight training and my experiences working with parrots at the Tropical Butterfly House, Wildlife and Falconry Centre at Woodie’s Wings Parrot Club monthly meeting in Derby, England, and took Bonnie and Alfie along to show off their skills. When I arrived, I was thrilled to be greeted by so many friendly faces and a cacophony of parrot squawks, screeches and whistles! I’ve presented talks with Bonnie and Alfie at Charnwood Parrot Club in Leicester and Nottingham Parrot Club (headed up by Rosemary Low), but this was, by far, the biggest venue and biggest crowd.

For those of you who aren’t already aware, Bonnie and Alfie, the almost 3 year old Green-winged Macaw siblings, are the real stars out of my flock. They fly twice a day in the shows, flying up to 30-40 feet up in the air, flying circuits sometimes up to 400 feet wide! They are incredibly fit and have amazing stamina, sometimes going round 10-15 times before being called in for their dramatic landing. No matter how many times I see them fly, it never gets any less spectacular to watch and I’m SO lucky to be part of it.

Alfie (left) and Bonnie (right) (photo by Ben Coulson)

The main subject of my talk was how Bonnie and Alfie were trained for free-flying and how we achieved flying in circuits for the shows, but I also explained my feeling that everybody should try recall training with their bird indoors. It feels great to have your bird willingly fly to you when you call them, and if they are well trained to come when you call; if they DO happen to get outside accidentally or end up somewhere they shouldn’t be, you have more chance of safely getting them back. Also, BIRDS CAN FLY!! And my feeling is that they should be able to do so! I was a little sad to see so many clipped birds, however many owners there after seeing Bonnie and Alfie flying back and forth across the room, said they would let their birds’ wing feathers regrow. Several people with fully flighted birds also said they would definitely start recall training.

Bonnie and Alfie flying to me from Ben across the conference hall (photo by Ben Coulson)

There was quite a variety in terms of the experience of the people attending the club meeting; some who had literally just got their first bird a few days ago, and some who had been parronts for quite some time, so I also incorporated important messages about feeding a healthy diet and providing mental stimulation using training and simple foraging techniques. Check out this blog post on Getting started with using foraging: beginner tips & how to.

I’ve always been really impressed with the Birdtricks Facebook community; people are so willing to share their own experiences of what works and what doesn’t but also; I’ve seen some really brave admissions of mistakes – where bird owners have dared to reveal what they did wrong as a cautionary tale to others. I think it’s fantastic; we all want to provide the BEST care for our birds and the best way of doing so is to keep learning! Put pride aside and if you don’t know something, don’t be afraid to ask. AND if you are asked a question, be happy to offer support and advice rather than judging that person for not knowing; better informed parrot owners means better cared-for birds and that’s what we all want. We all need little reminders now and again, even about what most would consider to be ‘the basics’ like Unsafe Foods for Parrots.

Group photo! Bonnie and Alfie with me in the centre, with lots of lovely parrot owners and their birds :)

Those who attended the Woodie’s Wings Parrot Club meeting were all clearly passionate about taking great care of their birds and keeping them happy; it was a wonderful atmosphere and a great event to be part of….plus, there was also a raffle with some great prizes including a parrot play stand, a table set up where you could purchase parrot toys and food and even free coffee and cake (for the humans only!). I would definitely recommend checking if there is a Parrot Club in your region that holds meetings, as it’s a great to hang out with people who share your passion and a wonderful opportunity to share knowledge.

11 comments

Lynne Pettifer

We were all honoured to have Heather and Ben attend Woodies Wings parrot Club in Derby. Bonnie and Alfie stole the show of course. It was fantastic to see them flying in our conference room. Many of our members are still talking about the evening.

Lynne Pettifer
Flo

Yes, I belong to a bird club. I am a board member for the Delco Bird Club which is in Delaware County, PA. ( right outside Philadelphia). We have been around since 1996. I joined in 1997 and have been a board member since 1999. We have 10 meetings a year at a local community center. We have vets speak to our group, we have 2 parties a year, we have toy making night (s), play games, and many other fun and educational things. I also belong to our outreach team and we do programs for scouts, libraries, nursing homes, community festivals and even birthday parties! 1/2 of the money raised at outreaches goes to parrot rescues, while the other 1/2 supports our club and pays for guest speakers. We have been as large as 85 members, but sadly, at this time, we only have about 42 members…but we are working on membership drives to help build us back up. Please feel free to visit our website @ www.delcobirdclub.org to get more info and check us out!! I love my bird club!! It has taught me so much. I am proudly owned by 18 birds from finches to a Moluccan cockatoo.

Flo
jan J

The West Los Angeles Bird Club is a great place for anyone loving parrots. Please check out their website at www.westlabirdclub.com. The meeting is tonight – free for you – bring your healthy and clipped birds along. Great speaker, huge raffle, and meet other parrot owners and their birds. Everyone is welcome. It is a great way to make new friends, hear terrific speakers, win lots of food/toys/accessories, learn about caring for your birds, the latest in conservation, etc., and just have a great time.

jan J
Darlene Carver

In the Washington, DC area we have a club, The National Capital Bird Club, and it is active, but just barely. We recently lost our meeting place due to construction of the facility and it is difficult to find new meeting sites. We do have a summer picnic and holiday party that attract more people to the event. For those who do not have clubs nearby, think about going on the Parrot Lovers Cruise in Oct-Nov each year. It is a 7-day cruise where we visit behind-the-scenes bird places and hear talks by specialists. Wonderful opportunity to connect, share, learn, and enjoy. See the website for more information www.parrotloverscruise.com.

Darlene Carver
Nada Jurisich- Fontana

I belong to the Rainbow Feathers Bird Club & Rescue ( rfbirdclub.com ) in the Detroit area. We meet once a month in the basement of a church and there are a large variety of parrots that come with their people. I found the club through a fellow African Grey owner who boards their bird where I do. It has been a great experience! I’m a first- time bird owner and although I had read a lot of books and material, I had no hands-on experience. The president of the bird club has many years of experience with greys and owns 3 and I am grateful for his help, encouragement and coaching with my handsome Apollo ( CAG).

Nada Jurisich- Fontana
Gail

I participate in the Dallas Bird Society. It is a wonderful group. I recently fostered a lovely little cockatiel for this group and we found him a great home, a “wife” and two new members!

Gail
Nadine Overstgreet

Seem to be a lot of parrot sales in Pell City Alabama…..Don’t see any clubs…

Nadine Overstgreet
Steve Miller

I am a member of the Illini Bird Fanciers club in Springfield, IL. We have about 20 active members who keep everything from finches to macaws. We are much like an extended family of bird owners. We encourage members to bring their birds to meetings for socialization. We have a very low priced membership, and raise most of our club money from our spring and fall bird fairs. We use the money to bring in guest speakers, take an annual club outing, and donate the rest to avian organizations. We meet once a month.

Steve Miller
Pam

I am a member of Olympic Bird Fanciers (www.olympicbirdfanciers.com) in Port Orchard, WA. Our members meet at The Active Club on the first Sunday of every month. On the remaining three Sundays of each month all members and their birds are welcome to meet to socialize and fly their birds at a specific location. We call those Sunday gatherings “Flydays.” In late spring, the birds and club members enter and participate in several parades on the Kitsap Peninsula. We are always well received by the crowds. The first year, our float was a giant Tiki Hut that some of the birds rode in. The following year was a tropical “Gilligan’s Island” themed float. Last year was an Antique Locomotive Train Float called “Trained Parrots.” At Christmastime, members and their parrots are in an annual Animal Pet Parade in Downtown Port Orchard. At the end of August, the bird club has a booth at the Kitsap County Fair. Last year, we were invited to be part of an Animal Fair in Gig Harbor where children come and learn about different types of pets and companion birds. Our club also organizes and holds an annual Bird Mart in Bremerton, WA where vendors sell parrots related items such as toys, food, cages, play stands, birds, jewelery etc. In June, of this year our club is making a presentation at a local Humane Society about “Responsible Bird Ownership.” We are active in our community and the members learn alot from each other. Of course, the birds are always teaching us something new. Our club and our feathered friends have alot of fun!!

Pam
Lauren

West Valley Bird Society in north Los Angeles area. I’m the President. Monthly meeting with about 50 members attending each time.

Lauren
Sue

hi. Sue here in Austin TX. I don’t know there is a club Here or in a near area. If any of you know of 1.please let me know Thanks.

Sue

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