Archive for the ‘Feathered Friends’ Category


Two Worthy Fundraisers – Ways to Support Parrots Right NOW

June 19, 2012

There are two parrot-related fundraisers I want to share with you!

Lafeber Fundraiser for Phoenix Landing

Lafeber, maker of the Nutriberry treats my birds love so much, will be donating $1 worth of free bird food to Phoenix Landing for every new fan to the Lafeber/Nutriberries Facebook page through the end of June. It doesn’t cost you anything. Just click on the image below and click “Like” at the top of the page.

Lafeber Nutri-berries - Fan Page

If you’re already a fan, be sure to share this fundraiser with your friends and fellow bird lovers and ask them to become Facebook fans of Lafeber also. Hurry, the fundraiser ends June 30. All likes above and beyond 1,734 is worth $1 to Phoenix Landing.

And, of course, if you’re not a fan of Phoenix Landing on Facebook yet, be sure to like them too!

The Alex Foundation Matching Gift Grant

Through July 5, all donations  to The Alex Foundation up to $10,000 will be matched by a generous donor. Your donation, in other words, would go twice as far to support the Foundation and Dr. Irene Pepperberg’s research. Just visit their new website and donate, or learn more about their work and the African Greys picking up where Alex left off.

Dr. Pepperberg Talks to Pepper

And please also read my review of Dr. Pepperberg’s memoir about her time with Alex: Alex and Me —  How a Scientist and a Parrot Uncovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence — and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process.


Animal Intelligence: Kea vs. Crows — Which is Smarter?

August 22, 2011

Which is smarter, a parrot or a corvid?

Actually, that’s a trick question.

As this excellent article in Discover Magazine points out, you can’t boil animal “intelligence” down to a simple measure of how an animal performs on an arbitrary, human-designed test.

Animal intelligence isn’t a single thing. There is no standard IQ test for them to sit, and no universal checklist of skills to score them against. Instead, animals have evolved mental abilities to cope with different lifestyles and environments. Many early studies into animal intelligence simply looked at whether animals could or couldn’t perform specific tasks. But it’s far more interesting to see why and how they do different things, and how their own particular brand of intelligence has evolved.

In nature, only a few animals have been observed to use tools, likely because their “natural” lives don’t really require it. But last week, one more animal joins the ranks of “tool user”: Kandula the Elephant uses a stool to solve a puzzle. (But how often do elephants in the wild need to reach treats suspended in trees while simultaneously having access to out-of-sight stools?) The interesting thing in this development isn’t really the use of tools, but the planning undertaken by the pachyderm.

What are some surprising actions you’ve witnessed from an animal that you thought showed “intelligence”? What kind of problem-solving chops do your pets demonstrate? What’s the most amazing feat of animal intelligence you’ve ever heard about?


VIDEO: Parrot Who Does Math

January 9, 2011

This is amazing. Watch this African Grey solve math equations. (I was going to say “simple math equations”, but when you think that the bird needs to be able to add, subtract, recognize numerals, and know the number of dots on the side of the die… well, that just blows my mind.)

You thought YOUR bird was smart?


Dancing Cockatoo Frostie: Whip My Hair

November 20, 2010

Frostie the dancing parrot shows off how to whip yo’ hair.. um, I mean “crest”.


Personality, Not Pity, Is the Key to Promoting Adoptions

November 4, 2010

Over at the Pet Connection Blog, Christie Keith points out a study that reinforces something a few of us have already known instinctively: posting pet adoption ads that scream of desperation might get a lot of views and pity, but it doesn’t help the cause (either long term or short term). The article talks about pet adoption ads that actually end up reinforcing people’s fears about shelters, and by extension shelter dogs.

Similarly, I know from my conversations with other people that many individuals interested in birds rule out adopting a parrot — instead opting to go to a breeder — because they think they can’t handle the baggage that comes with a “rescue bird”.

Ann Brooks, founder of the parrot welfare organization Phoenix Landing, shared her thoughts on her attempts to change how people think of rehomed birds:

We need to change our paradigm about pet birds, and the jargon that we use to describe their lives in captivity. If we can help people understand that rehomed birds come from bad AND good situations, perhaps people will be more likely to consider adoption first.

We also do a huge disservice to birds if we use the term “forever home.” Very few healthy birds are able to stay in the same place for their entire lives. Even the smallest parrot (a parakeet) has the potential to live longer than a dog.

We can all agree that animals should not live in neglect, and certainly many birds do. They certainly deserve better. However, I hope we can all begin to acknowledge that birds should not go from the good life to the bad either, just because they need a new home. My long-lived Phoenix will surely outlive me, and she deserves a safe and healthy new family as much as the bird that was dumped at the shelter. The best thing I can do to insure she has a good future is to help change our perception about why birds need new homes.

In other words, not all rehomed birds are “problem birds.” Birds may need new homes for any number of reasons, chief among them that parrots live a very long time.

I’ve had the fortune of learning a lot over the years about the work Phoenix Landing does and I know that there are many adoptable parrots in foster care who just need someone to love them for the great pets they already are.

To learn more about Phoenix Landing’s work and read about some of the birds, large and small, available for adoption, please visit and click on the newsletter from the homepage.


It Takes Two to Boogie: A New Study with Snowball the Dancing Cockatoo

September 6, 2010

Wired magazine just covered a new study that lends us new insights into why and how Snowball the Dancing Cockatoo shakes his tail feathers.

Previous studies with Snowball showed that some animals (including some parrots) “move rhythmically to music in a way that other animals don’t, demonstrating that dancing is not uniquely human” and that they definitely follow the beat. (Researchers have taken songs and sped them up and slowed them down, to see if Snowball just keeps a specific rhythm, and he always adjusted his dancing to match the beat.)

In this new study, the research showed that Snowball danced more often and with more enthusiasm if his owner Irena Schulz was also dancing (versus her not being in the room or her being in the room but not dancing).

That doesn’t really surprise me. I’m also much more likely to dance when others are dancing also. 😉 In other words, it shouldn’t surprise us that there’s some sort of social element to getting one’s groove on.

Snowball at the World Science Festival in 2009

My favorite part of the Wired article explained what happened if they had Schulz dance to a different beat than what Snowball was hearing:

“When Schultz danced to the wrong beat, Snowball appeared confused. Eventually he turned around and ignored Schultz, dancing to his own music until close to the end of the song. When he turned to face her again, his leg-lifts were less high and his head bobs less sure. ‘He’s less enthusiastic, more tentative,’ Patel said.”

Read More from Wired:

Read my interview with Irena Schulz about Snowball’s rise to fame:


Phoenix Landing Foundation Rescues 26 Parrots

February 22, 2010

On February 11, parrot welfare organization Phoenix Landing rushed to save the lives of 26 parrots facing euthanasia at the Catawba County Animal Shelter in Newton, North Carolina. These birds, ranging from tiny parakeets to large macaws, were part of a group of nearly 200 animals seized by local law enforcement from an abusive situation late last year.  With no homes available and time running out, the shelter was forced to set a date for their euthanasia.

When Phoenix Landing learned of the conditions these parrots had come from and that their time at the shelter was running short, the group mobilized volunteers and gathered as many new and used cages, travel carriers, parrot food and toys that could be located on 24‐hour notice and went to Catawba County to take these birds.

More below the jump… Read the rest of this entry ?