This article appeared in the Edmonton Examiner
on Wednesday, June 2, 2004.




Feathered friends make fine pets

KAREN KARBASHEWSKI
Examiner Staff

Amanda Hall routinely shares her affections with two of the males in her life, Max and Jack. Max is a green Amazon and Jack, a Goffins cockatoo. The two birds love their owner and allow Hall to have a kiss or two with each of them. Jack will even have a little nap while perched on her shoulder.

"I just fell in love and bought one after the other," says the former pet store employee.

"You can interact with these birds and they talk to you. They have the mentality of a five-year-old child and they have so much personality, I just love them," she says.

Hall is a member of the Edmonton Pet Parrot Association (EPPA), a non-profit group which is dedicated to educating its members and the public about the care and understanding of pet birds.

EPPA president Louise Walden says many parrot owners don't know where to start when they bring a bird into the home and are unaware that scented candles, hairspray and smoke are a health danger for the feathered friends.

"All of these types of things aren't good for the birds," she says.

The EPPA meets monthly and pet bird owners share information on caring and raising their winged creatures. The 65 club members will help diagnose problems and offer tips on behavior modification for the birds.

The club also provides a rescue service and will take birds that have been ignored or neglected.

"We do find homes for birds that need a home either with club members or with friends of members," she says.

Ripley, a 13-year-old red-lored Amazon, is a little skittish after being with owners who didn't know how to handle him. He's become much calmer, and sociable since hooking up with Pete Stapleton, an EPPA member.

"I've never met a bird that couldn't be tamed down. When it comes to these guys, people used to get a budgie and feed it seed, not so anymore," he says.

Ripley, who is wearing a flight suit, which is a little bird diaper so he doesn't mess everywhere, is an adventurous eater and often eats what Stapleton eats.

"She likes steak and potatoes, and last night she had hamburgers. She's not worried about mad cow disease and she really likes roast beef," says Stapleton.

Stapleton has been a member of the club for a few years and says the collective wisdom of the members is a great resource for parrot owners.

He says it's a joy when birds start to talk and they tell you they love you.

"It's nice having a pet you can talk to - dogs and cats don't talk back to you," he says.

The association recently showcased parrots from around the world at the Muttart and its next public showing is slated for September.

Anyone wanting more information about the club or meeting times can contact Walden at 466-7273 or check out www.eppa.ca.


PARROT FACTS

  • The record for most words spoken by a bird is held by a budgie that could utter about 1,200 words.
  • Parrots need different types and sizes of perches to exercise their feet.
  • Most parrots need 10 to 12 hours of sleep a night.
  • Parrots can't eat dairy products. They don't have the enzyme that's needed to break down lactose.
  • Parrots see UV light. They see colours differently when exposed to UV light, and when exposed to UV light, it helps improve their health.
  • West Nile can affect parrots.
  • Some African Greys have the intelligence of four-year-olds.
  • Caffeine, nicotine, chocolate, avocado, strong cleaners like bleach and carpet fresheners are toxic to the birds.
  • Parrots are only second or third generation from the wild. Dogs have been domesticated for thousands of years. Parrots cannot be disciplined like dogs.