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Bird man brings parrots to Fairview

Zoologist and wild life educator plan visit to Fairview-Columbia Library Aug. 6


by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Anderson with Zeus, a Greenwing Macaw parrot (on the left), and Sam, a Hyacinth Macaw, at a mall show in Salem.They call him the Oregon Bird Man.

Seen wearing tropical shirts beneath an armor of khaki, he makes visits to schools, libraries, nursing homes, birthday parties and the state prison.

by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - The Oregon Bird Man, a.k.a. Karl Anderson, with his Sun Conure, Nacho. The bird orginates from South America.He carts with him a flock of exotic birds, ranging in all sizes and origins, from the smallest of parrot species to the largest in the world— the Greenwing Macaw of South America.

A zoologist, animal behaviorist and wildlife educator, Karl Anderson has spent the past 25 years fostering parrots born into captivity that can no longer survive in the wild.

And to the delight of audiences all over the country, he loves sharing this expertise with others.

“I have always enjoyed the magic that takes places between people meeting animals, so I love to be a part of making that happen,” said Anderson, who will present “Colors of the Jungle,” at Fairview-Columbia Library on Wednesday, Aug. 6.

The program begins at 3 p.m. and will focus on the natural history of parrots, their behavior in captivity, responsible pet ownership, and why some species are now critically endangered. Space is limited, so come early for a good seat.

Noisy critters

The bird man keeps 26 parrots at his home on the Oregon coast.

One of the main reasons people give up their pet parrots, Anderson said, is because someone in the family, or a neighbor, can’t handle the noise. Other times people move, or they don’t have enough time.

He says his neighbors don’t complain.

He lives across the street from undeveloped wetlands in a town with a population of 1,000.

Anderson, who was a keynote speaker for Discovery Channel’s Animal Planet, said people have been keeping parrots captive as pets since Alexander the Great ruled Macedon in 336 B.C.

Explorers captured the birds and brought the beautiful-winged things back to their homes, where they continue to hang out in some living rooms today.

Unique creatures, he said, “Parrots are the only kind of bird in the world that can speak our language.”

Not only do they copy things they hear, he said, but often they know what the words mean.

I asked Anderson to name a few of his birds’ most peculiar behaviors.

Sometimes he will hear sounds of men and women’s voices, conversations the parrots have picked up.

“Django,” his Congo African Grey Parrot, makes the exact sound R2D2 makes. To perfection, he mocks the telephone ringing, computer rebooting, toilet flushing and the final dings of a microwave.

Often waking up to these strange noises, Anderson just lifts an eyebrow.

In a 24-hour day, he said 21 of those hours are usually totally quiet, “then for about an hour, they will have a little soiree and they can get quite noisy,” he said.

For quiet time, Anderson retreats to a home theater room, where he can read, eat, watch movies and where the birds “won’t pick up any questionable language.”

If any of the birds were likely to develop a potty mouth, it would be would “Abriel,” a salmon-crested Moluccan cockatoo, who Anderson said is kind of the class clown at his shows.

She makes the sound of a tea kettle boiling over, car alarms going off and most disconcerting to Anderson while he’s driving — blaring police sirens.

Anderson said it’ll cause him to frantically check his mirrors and think “I wasn’t going that fast.”

Interestingly, the Australian lyre bird can sing the sounds of not only car alarms and camera shutters, but of chainsaws and loggers cutting down trees.

Individual personalities

by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Gracie, a Blue and Gold Macaw flaps her wings at the Gresham Library, where Anderson hosted a show in early July.While they can live up to 80 to 100 years old, most captive parrots have the mentality of a 4- to 6-year-old, Anderson said.

“They all have individual personalities,” he said. “They have good days and bad days just like we do.”

Sometimes when he takes them out of their cages to interact, some parrots will get jealous for his attention. Some will get upset when he leaves the room.

Ideally, each bird should get no less than two or three hours of one-on-one attention every week, he said.

Anderson doesn’t consider a parrot a tame animal, so people shouldn’t let their guard down around them.

“They have become accustomed to people, or specific people, enough to trust them,” he said.

Making the birds do tricks isn’t what Anderson’s shows are about, he said.

“I am the only one that shows how these birds are naturally. I talk to people about conservation, what’s happening to these birds in the wild today, and things people need to do before they run out and get a bird as a pet.”

Because of lucrative international trading in parrots during the 1980s, many countries including the United States have banned the importation of wild-caught birds.

Anderson said the biggest threat to wild parrots today is the loss of rain forest habitat due to the encroachment of the human population.



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