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Parrots parade at Sellwood-Moreland Library

by: RITA A. LEONARD - Karl Anderson, The Bird Man, displays a collection of colorful birds, as he explains at the Sellwood-Moreland Branch Library about these birds - their care and their capabilities. In the last few years, researchers have demonstrated that parrots are extremely smart. A few years ago, a parrot in Brooklyn made the front page headline in THE BEE by catching a burglar for the police – or rather, by tricking him into reporting himself to 9-1-1.

There’s more to learn about them, and wildlife educator Karl Anderson provided it, as he brought his lively show, “Colors of the Jungle”, to the Sellwood-Moreland Library on S.E. 13th Avenue at Bidwell, on Wednesday, July 2. “The Oregon Bird Man”, as he is called, brought fifteen fascinating parrot species to his presentation, billed “the most comprehensive and colorful show on Psittacines in the Pacific Northwest”.

Anderson is an experienced animal behaviorist and former keynote speaker for Animal Planet. He promotes responsible pet ownership, showing that each bird needs daily individual attention, exercise, and proper nutrition, to thrive. They are not just pretty collectibles to display in a cage, and each has its own personality.

The program’s “Psittacines” – or parrot-like birds – represent species from four different continents: Africa, Australia, South America, and Asia. Anderson described the differences of each breed. While many refer to all these creatures as “parrots”, there are actually conures, parakeets, caiques, parrots, cockatoos, and macaws – each with its own special coloring. Sometimes the male and female of a breed have different colors as well.

“Before you decide to choose a bird for a pet,” he said, “You need to be aware that they are messy, noisy, have sharp beaks and claws, and poop about every 25 minutes. Birds that are ‘breeders’ do not make good pets either, since they are protective of their young, and will not bond with you.” He explained that bird poop is colored green and white. “The green is from solid food, the white is from liquid. If your bird doesn’t have much white in its poop, it is probably dehydrated,” he warned.

The Bird Man's show covered the natural history, specific behaviors, and responsible care of these birds in captivity. They can be trained to do various tricks or to talk, and can imitate both human and mechanical noises, such as a telephone, microwave, or even a police siren. Anderson cautions against providing the birds any sort of plastic toys – not only because the material is not ‘natural’ to them, but because it can be harmful if ingested. Parrots have thick, seed-crushing beaks, and can easily pulverize plastic.

Anderson’s birds (he owns 26) have all been raised in captivity, since they are now no longer allowed to be collected from the wild. “Many of them are going extinct in their native habitats, because the trees they need to survive are disappearing,” he reports. “They eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, and need a combination of nuts, seeds, and grains to stay healthy.”

The Bird Man also provides each of his birds a lot of individual attention outside cages. “Their mental health is just as important as their physical health,” he remarks. The birds can live for up to 100 years, and can be good companions. He gives them stimulating earth-friendly toys and daily attention, and devotes much of his home to their living space.

For more information, go online to: http://www.oregonbirdman.com .

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