Photo by Jamieleigh Location: Saipan, MP Macaw: Military Macaw "Cash"
Fellow entertainers scared of birds... beware! If you're looking for me backstage, just go towards the sounds of the parrots! Because that is where I will always be.
When there was only one bird in the show, it made it real easy to hang out with just that bird all the time backstage, but as more and more creep their way into the magic show... more and more need time backstage, too! So I now have bird buddies for just about everything!
When doing my hair, I will have my galah, Bondi, with me. She loves to start preening herself in I am doing my hair. Whereas my other galah, Bandit, HATES the hair brush and will do what he can to make sure it stays the heck away from me!
When it comes to make up, Cressi my African Grey gets to hang out! She's the only one with the smallest amount of interest in my make up and won't try to pull it off my face or steal the brushes. She's a super good sport about it and just loves the time to be together.
I can usually have any of the birds out when it comes to getting into costume as they aren't actually on me but just nearby on the back of a chair. When lunch, snacks or any kind of food break comes around... Bandit, my other galah, will get to hang out. The macaws would steal my treats in an instant but Bandit is a tad (and just a tad) bit more polite!
Anything else backstage is pretty much macaw territory once I'm ready to go. I try to rotate birds as much as I can so that they all get lots of time outside of their cages before the performance. It's hard, but you have to find a way to make it work.
Photo by Paul Location: Cruise Ship Stage Trick performing: Swainson Toucan "Fiji"
The other way all entertainers who have birds in their act, spend time with them is in the show, too! Many people think it may be cruel to have "show animals" where they perform in shows - however, a show environment is a very mentally and physically stimulating environment for these birds and they LOVE it. I use to wonder if they really enjoyed it, but once you take them away from the show... you see how upset they are that they aren't in it anymore! It's a great reminder to myself and to them, how much it really means for that nightly or daily interaction and constant challenge in their lives.
But it is also important to know that EVERYONE, including myself, have their off nights where they just don't feel like doing the show. And animals always have those nights, too.
Article by Jamieleigh Womach. She has been working with parrots and toucans since the age of 17. She isn’t homeless but is home less than she prefers to be. She travels the world with her husband, daughter, and a flockful of parrots whom she shares the stage with.