Photo by Dave Womach Location: Carbondale, IL Shown: Galahs "Bondi" & "Ace"
Whenever we fly our birds in the arenas, we let anyone watch who is around or wants to. There's some people around the circus that I call or text to let them know we're going to be flying our birds because I know how much they enjoy being there. Then there's always the ever changing building people who usually end up getting sucked in by the cuteness of our birds or the noise factor and staying around. They usually end up not being able to leave because the second they put a bird down, it's flying right back to them!
Photo by Dave Womach Location: Carbondale, IL Shown: Galah "Bondi"
This city we are in Carbondale, Illinois on a college campus and so many people joined us in flying the birds. A trait about these people that I normally don't like that I actually DID like this time was the boldness they had. These people were fearless when it came to our birds. They would walk up and offer a hand, even if it meant getting bit (which didn't happen, actually) or if it meant the bird walked away. None of them chased after our birds, but they were persistent and kept trying when the opportunity was right. Instead of running away or ducking (only happened once and that was to Tusa) they offered themselves as perches even having no idea what that really meant for them.
Photo by Dave Womach Location: Carbondale, IL Shown: Blue throated macaw "Jinx", Military macaw "Crash", galahs "Bondi" & "Bandit"
Our birds reacted really well to all the people there at the arena watching them play and fly. Whether they were just fearless or stupid... it worked. Our birds had fun with them.
Normally, Bondi will go to anyone and spend all the time in the world with them because she's just so social. We raised her with the idea that she would go to anyone and love everyone and that is definitely true with her. But in this setting we let her do whatever she wanted... and of course she chose to spend time with lots of strangers but there came a point where she got bored with the strangers. The strangers really wanted to spend more time with her than she did with them, and she got to a point where she ignored them and came looking for us. She would follow us around on the ground running full speed to keep up. It was really cute and made me think it was great to let her have the freedom to hang out with someone else until she was done. Normally when I use her in preshow or PR stunts she doesn't always feel like she got enough time with someone new. So this was great and it was nice to have people with the right personality for it, too.
Photo by Dave Womach Location: Carbondale, IL Shown: Galahs "Ace", "Bondi" & "Bandit", Congo Grey "Cressi", Military Macaw "Crash"
It's not a good idea pretty much ever to socialize your bird with someone whose afraid of birds. I've gotten many people over their fear of birds by introducing them to mine... normally I use Bondi because she is light weight, PINK (not very scary) and has the perfect temperament for something like that. But for the average bird who needs more social attention and experience, it's not good to use someone who is scared because they are unpredictable.
They could scream, run, jerk real fast, drop the bird, squirm, or do anything that might set your bird off and make it that much harder the next time. Fearless people are more likely to invade your bird's personal space and think that things are going so well once the bird steps up that they can pet it and treat it like you do even with the lack of relationship they have with your bird. BUT, likely they won't freak out if they get bit and they aren't likely to do any fast movements to spook your bird either. I prefer the fearless people because they don't normally care if they get bit and it makes it easier on me to not worry AS much (not that I ever want anyone to get bit... unless they deserve it ;))
However these people were, was perfect. They were fearless enough to do whatever it took but not be stupid about the animals either. They realized they could bite, they realized they had boundaries and so they asked, not demanded, of the birds to do things and got great responses. It was also nice to feel like our birds were grateful to have us after spending time with other people... dare I say... I felt a little appreciated by my flock?!
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.