Thursday, February 22, 2007

Video of CARE's appearance on The Morning Blend can now be seen on our website. We're a little late in getting this notice out -- it's been up for a few days!!! As previously mentioned, we will also be appearing on March 19.

Thanks for watching!

Monday, February 19, 2007

CARE's The Morning Blend appearance on Monday, February 19 went very well. Here is a link to the video on their website. We hope to have a direct link on our own website shortly.

Lori and Lisa appeared with 3 birds: Stosch (M2), Katie (M2), and Butch (B&G macaw).

Stosch (fully feathered) and Katie (quite plucked) provided a great visual of how an M2 should look and how they often do look. Katie showed off and was quite the ham. Butch waved and acted as a model of how to exercise a macaw.

Thanks to The Morning Blend for having us!!! We look forward to our next appearance which is currently scheduled for March. More details will be provided as we get closer to the date.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Just a reminder that Lisa and Lori will be on The Morning Blend again Monday morning at 10 a.m. on Channel 4. We will be taking three birds with us, probably Katie, Butchie and Stosch, who is Chris's Moluccan Cockatoo. The topic will be volunteering. If you miss the tape, Mark, our website volunteer, will be hooking it up on our website sometime later in the week.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


Working in parrot rescue, we often come across people encountering behavioral problems with their parrots. Screaming is near the top of the list. Why do parrots scream? The reasons are varied, but generally, screaming is used as a way for parrots to communicate with other members of their flock.

The way that some people deal with the screaming is to cover the parrot's cage. The theory behind this is that the parrot will think it's time to sleep because it's dark and will quiet down. However, this is not natural, and may cause other problems down the road. It's a quick fix at best, although it often will not work, and may in fact worsen the screaming, as the parrot tries to call his flock.

The caique pictured was surrendered to the shelter because of his screaming. His previous owners covered him, sometimes all day long, to try to quiet him down. In addition, he was fed a poor diet and was deprived of any positive interactions with other living beings. Once he started eating a good diet and having natural light cycles (instead of constant darkness), his hormones went out of control. Over the course of a few hours, he ripped out all of the orange leg feathers and mutilated his thighs. We had to collar him due to his mutilation. The collar was removed once his sores healed. He allowed his feathers to grow back in, and we have not seen any further feather destruction in the past 3 years.

How to handle the screaming? Every situation is different, but there are a few things you can do. Make sure your parrot is getting enough exercise. That she has a ton of destructable toys in her cage. Provide foraging opportunities. Try clicker training. Make sure he's getting enough sleep -- a sleep cage might be necessary.

Try to figure out what your parrot is trying to communicate to you when she screams, and either anticipate and correct the issue BEFORE she screams, or provide her a different way of communicating her wishes.

One of our volunteers is living with a 20-year-old severe macaw that used screaming to communicate. Every evening when she got home from work, he screamed as she prepared the parrots' dinner (he could see his dish and wanted it RIGHT NOW). By giving him an almond wrapped in a piece of paper before he started screaming, she could prepare their dinner in peace. Additionally, they found an alternate sound that he could use to communicate his unhappiness. Right before he would scream, he'd let out this vomit sound. She ran to him right when he made this sound and completely ignored him when he'd scream. He learned that making the vomit sound got him what he wanted, while screaming got him nothing. He still screams occasionally, after all that's what worked for 20 years, while making the vomit sound has only worked for a few months. However, the screaming has much diminished, and everyone is much happier for that!

Obviously, screaming is a complex issue that can't be covered in such a small blog entry. Also, remember that parrots are wild animals, and that a certain amount of vocalization is normal. People wanting quiet, decorative pets should not consider a parrot. Constant screaming is not normal and can be fixed. If you're having problems with a screaming parrot, we may be able to help. Stop by and we can show you different foraging toys and things you can do to give your parrot a job and keep his mind on things other than screaming!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Today is Joey's birthday and he's 21, not 22. How could I forget his finally turning legal! He got a special toy today, with lots of corn on it - that's his favorite but he doesn't get it very often, so it's still a treat for him. I am using the corn as his reinforcement with his clicker training so he only gets it for special occasions. His eyes lit up when he saw the toy - I'm sure it will be gone by morning, but it's worth seeing the expression on his face. Stop by soon and say hi to Joe.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Wednesday, February 14th, is Joey's 22nd birthday! As most of you know, Joey the Umbrella Cockatoo is our mascot and Lori's bird. He has been with the Center for almost seven years and Lori adopted him over five years ago.

Joey was surrendered to the Center in October 2000. Lori's sister-in-law ran into a friend of hers at Tosafest that year and asked if she wanted another cockatoo. At the time, Carmen was being fostered by Lori's brother's family. Deb said no, but that Lori was running an exotic bird rescue if they had a bird that they needed to surrender. It was this person's aunt's bird. The aunt called the Center and asked if we could come and pick up her "naughty bird". We took and van over so we could also pick up his cage. Lori told her she's have to sign a release form - and the woman said she would sign it and have Lori sign a form to say she'd never bring the bird back.

What we found out from this woman's caretaker was that Joey's cage was just out of sight of the kitchen, and this woman spent most of her time in the kitchen. Joey would scream for attention and when she couldn't stand it anymore, she would beat him with a fly swatter.

When Joey came to us, you could pet him but he didn't know how to step up and did not trust people at all. It took Lori 1-1/2 years to get him to that point. As soon as he could step up, Lori started taking him everywhere with her, always telling him "it's okay Joey" if he got scared. (To this day, he still says "it's okay Joey" if he gets scared.)

When Lori finally decided that he was adoptable, she found a nice home for him. What Lori didn't realize what how much she loved him and how adopting him out was a horrible mistake. Luckily for Lori, Joey didn't like his new home either. After about a month, the new owner called and said it wasn't working out with Joey. Luckily, there was another really nice male umbrella cockatoo at the Center ready for adoption, so Joey came back and the other cockatoo went to his new home. Lori adopted Joey and they've been together ever since.

Joey has a huge vocabulary and can put words into sentences by himself. He's always asking "puppies, want to go outside? Okay, let's go." He loves to be the center of attention and he's great at our PR events.

If you happen to come in this weekend, remember to say "Happy Birthday" to Joey.
Last Saturday, February 10, CARE had a booth at the AWARE show. What a fantastic time! We saw many of you down in Franklin, and made some new friends. We think that we may have found a few more volunteers, and maybe a few adoptive homes for parrots at our Center!

We took Butch (pictured below), Lola (pictured below), Buckie, and Joey (that's right -- two weeks in a row for Joey!) As always, these guys loved being in the spotlight and receiving attention from many passers-by. Lola enchanted everyone with her sweet calls of "Hi Babe!" and "Hi Baby!" Butch waved at people and demonstrated how to exercise a macaw.

We don't have any other special events planned right now, but that's sure to change! Keep checking back to see where else we may pop up around town!

Friday, February 09, 2007


We've recently discovered clicker training as a way of incorporating positive interactions with our parrots. This website can provide more detailed explanation of what clicker training is.

We hope to have an Introduction to Clicker Training workshop scheduled at the Center sometime during the next few months. In the meantime, you can read all about clicker training in this book. Additionally, you could join this yahoo group, which has fantastic how-to information in its files, and knowledgeable moderators ready to answer your questions. We have clickers for sale at the shelter. Check back for updates as to when the workshop will be held.

One of our volunteers has been training her four parrots for several months, and they all LOVE the opportunity to do tricks. When they see the training supplies pulled out, one starts saying "Want some!" and they all begin dancing around, excitedly. They do various tricks such as wave, ring a bell, turn around, flap their wings, shake hands, do a somersault through a loop, roll over and play dead, etc., etc. And all of this is accomplished with 5-10 minutes per bird, per day.

Clicker training isn't just for teaching tricks. One of the friends of our shelter has been using clicker training techniques with her african grey for several months. She writes, "I used clicker training to get him to target a new toy. Maybe you remember, I mentioned his phobia of new toys. This doesn't get him to play soon with it, but 75% of the time, he isn't cowering after the new toy is placed in his cage. So that is great progress, in my mind! I have him target the new toy while he's on his stand, away from his cage. After I hang the toy in his cage, while he's perched on my hand, I have him target the toy as I put him in his cage. After a few days, or so, he then does play with the formerly scary new toy."

If you're looking for a new way to bond with your bird and help channel some of her intelligence towards positive means, clicker training may be for you!
Reminder: AWARE show on Saturday, February 10

Just a reminder that C.A.R.E. will have a couple of booths at the AWARE Pet Expo. We will be speaking at 2:30 on stage 2. Please visit AWARE's website for more information.

We will have limited toys and food for sale, and will be there with several birds.

We hope to see you there!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Saturday, Feb. 3rd, we were invited to attend the Wehr Nature Center's First Annual Bird Day Festival. Chris, Pam and Lori (me) attended along with Joey, the Center's Umbrella Cockatoo Mascot, Lucky, one of our Moluccans who is up for adoption, and Chris's bird, Cricket, a Senegal Parrot with a crippled foot. We had been hoping to take our plucked birds, but it was way too cold to do that. I went out and purchased several microwavable disks that you put under the towel in the pet carrier and they hold heat for up to 12 hours. They worked very well and made me feel much better about taking the birds out in the cold.

We had a great time and met a lot of wonderful people, many of whom had never heard about us. It's always nice to get to a new venue to meet new people. We had a display of food and toys to match the different types of birds, and talked to many people about cockatoos and also about the fact that birds are not necessarily a good pet choice for many homes. We also sold a few calendars and lots of candy bars!

Next Saturday is the big AWARE Pet Fair down at the Milwaukee Sports Complex. You can find out more info about that on our website at We will be there and John and Lori will be speaking at 2:30 on Stage 2. Hope to see you there!

Friday, February 02, 2007


Towards the end of December, we had around 40 budgies released to us from one house. Most of these guys are tame, or will be easy to tame down.

For traveling, they were placed in 2 travel cages of around 20 birds each. When we opened the travel cage door to do intakes on the birds, several came shooting out to land on us!

If you've been thinking about adding a budgie or two to your flock, now might be the perfect time, as we've never had so many nice, tame ones at the same time before!

Often overlooked and sadly considered disposable pets by some, budgies are a delight to have around. Their chirping sounds brighten up a sad day. One of our volunteers has a budgie who loves playing in her foraging bucket and throws pinecones out of the bucket that are as big as she is! They are intelligent problem-solvers and savor attention from the human members of their flock.

We recommend that budgies be fed a high quality seed mix, fresh vegetables, greens, and sprouted seeds. They require toys to keep themselves busy -- they love chewing on wood and playing with bells. If you'd like some help picking out the perfect toys for your budgie, stop in our store and our volunteers can show you some of their favorites!