Birdie Bread Mini-Muffins

Posted in Birds, Chloe, Chop, Kacey, Macaw, Nutrition, Simba, Training, Uncategorized, Zazu with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 15, 2010 by angelsofflight

The biggest enjoyment my flock gets in the morning is not me saying “good morning”, or the kisses they get, nor the “did everyone sleep well” speech.  It’s their undying love of breakfast!  A mix of strawberry yogurt, cut up fruit, 2 teaspoons of the famous “CHOP” and (drum roll please…)…Birdie Bread Mini-Muffins.  My flock goes absolutely nuts over these things.  Constantine tends to have a couple with his tea in the a.m. as well…when the birds are in a sharing mood.  The recipe is really easy and I promised a few people I would post it.

I personally use all organic ingredients because that is just my preference for my birds, but you can generally find all this at your local grocery store.  This recipe is great for making into a loaf as well.  I like the mini-muffin pan because it is easier for me to serve it up to the flock.  One mini-muffin in each bowl is a perfect size for everyone all the way around.  A small side note…I never cook with Teflon pots or pans when cooking for my parrots.  I have separate cookware for them consisting of a couple of pots, a pan a baking sheet and my mini-muffin pan.

The ingredients are as follows:

2 boxes Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix
1/4 tsp. Cinnamon
3/4 cup Rolled Oats
4 jars of baby food (I use 2 jars of sweet potatoes and 2 jars of carrots)
3/4 cup mashed Bananas
1/4 cup Peanut Butter (Smuckers Organic is the best!)
1/4 cup Parmesan/Romano grated cheese
2/3 cup grated Carrots
1/2 cup Broccoli Florets

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Stir together muffin mix, oats and cinnamon in a large bowl and set aside.  Put baby food, broccoli, mashed bananas and peanut butter in a blender and blend briefly (just until blended).  Add carrots and cheese to dry mix and mix until the carrots and cheese are lightly coated with the dry mix.  Add wet mix to the dry mix and fold together lightly with a wooden spoon JUST until mixed…Don’t over mix!

In a greased mini-muffin pan (I like to use the organic baking spray),  fill each muffin cup with a tablespoon of muffin mixture.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Pop them out of the pan and cool on baking racks.

These are great because you can freeze them too and just take out what you need for the next day.  Pop them in the microwave for a few seconds to warm them up and your good to go.  Vary the recipe too if you like!  You can use mixed frozen veggies instead of the carrots and broccoli.  Instead of the baby food, try some canned pumpkin or mashed sweet potatoes or squash.  Mix and match with your birds favorite foods.  They are even a great gift to a fellow avian friend when you go to visit.

In the end, your flock will love you more than they do already…I know mine do!  Bon appetite!

Avian Encounters – The Aftermath

Posted in Avian Encounters - The Trilogy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 5, 2010 by angelsofflight

It was the most phenomenal production of the Trilogy.  It captured the audience both in-house and online.  It swept the world with emotion and a longing to learn more about these beautiful creatures.  But in reality, it was for one purpose…to save our seabirds.

Flash keeping Christina and Patricia calm!

The premiere of Avian Encounters III took the stage on August 28, 2010 at 6:00pm.  People filtered into to the lobby with anticipation of a film that had gotten so much local press it was silly to think you were going to miss it.  People were dressed to the nines and the production crew worked around the clock getting ready for the event.  Patricia and I ran around like “expectant fathers” as Flash, Leigh Anne and Michael all stood calm and collected easing our nerves that this event would go down in social media history…and it did.

233 people gathered to watch the premiere and considering the horrendous weather conditions outside that day, that was more than expected.  The power went out, we had technical difficulties, but hope prevailed and we delivered an outstanding event.  Now that it is a week later people are asking…what’s next?  It’s been a comical week on Facebook with questions such as…Avian Encounters IV – The Encore?  Sorry…no.  The era of Avian Encounters is done…That chapter is closed and it is time to move on to bigger things.  As I always say, If you can’t dream big, what’s the point in dreaming?

L to R: Michael Porpora (Visual Production Assistant), Leigh Anne Tubbs (Graphics Design Director), Patricia Sund (Public Relations/Media Consultant), Christina Giordano (Director/Executive Producer), "Flash" Kellish (Music/Sound Director)

For the Angels Of Flight Production Crew, this has opened many doors for us.  Flash and his family are making arrangements to move to Florida, Michael and I are embarking on a music video for the theme song to AEIII, “Now Do You Believe You Can Fly?”.  Leigh Anne has new ideas on graphics and photography for our next production.  Patricia has continued to fly the friendly skies while writing her book “Parrot Nation” and creating the marketing background for personalized films for people and their parrots.  It’s safe to say that the production crew is always busy and we are coming up with new and innovative ways to express each of our gifts.  We are a collaboration of 5 people who each bring a different talent to the table.  This is what makes up the foundation of Angels Of Flight Productions.  Without the 5 production crew members, this would’ve never been the event it was… and continues to be.  We are bound to each other through Angels Of Flight and will continue to work together to bring the world together.  Our volunteer assistants at the event, Shawn Beers (Financial Adviser), Lisa Licare (Donations Director), Constantine Makovetsky (Theater Usher), Dawn Carvotta (Theater Usher), and Steven Carvotta (Lead Photographer) of Stefano’s Photography played a huge part in this event as well.  Assisting the crowds of people coming into the theater and helping the event run as smooth as it did.  Without their help…again Patricia and I would’ve had to have a bit more wine than we did.

More Wine For Christina and Patricia!

As for the close of the era of Avian Encounters, we are setting up the Angels Of Flight Productions website to accept credit cards for the DVD.  In the meantime if you would like to purchase the DVD we have 2 editions.  The limited edition is $25.00 and consists of all 3 films (Avian Encounters I, II and III) as well as the credit film for Avian Encounters III.  What makes this the “limited edition” is the fact that the DVD case is signed by all 5 members of the production crew.  The regular edition is $20.00 with all 3 films and the credits in a plain clear case.  You may send a check or money order to:

Christina Giordano
132 Greenview Street
Marco Island, FL  34145
Please make check payable to Christina Giordano.  If your payment method is a check, please note that there is a 7 day waiting period for your check to clear. All proceeds from the sale of the DVD will go to Save Our Seabirds.

For now the production crew will be taking a rest.  It is a deserved rest.  After preparing for the last 3 months we feel like we have just put Chelsea Clinton’s wedding together on the fly.  For the next few months you can be assured that we will be brain storming about our next conquest, however a long weekend in the Bahamas on the beach sounds just about where we need to be.  Stay tuned to the Angels Of Flight Facebook page for updates on what’s going on as well as the Angels Of Flight Productions website.  Until then…We’ll see ya at the movies!!!

Thumbs Up For Avian Encounters - thanks for the ride!

Lift…A Review By Patricia Sund

Posted in Uncategorized on May 3, 2010 by angelsofflight

Lift is the new memoir by one of the Avian community’s most respected icons, Rebecca K. O’Connor.  Patricia Sund read the book and was so enthralled that she had to do a review on it.  Here it is, enjoy as you get a little taste of Rebecca’s world of raw reality unfolding and a writing style of Patricia Sund that you will never forget…

Disclaimer: I “know” Rebecca. I’ve never met her through traditional means, only through the virtual world of the internet. But we’ve emailed each other about this and that and exchange links to our blogs and often comment on each other’s posts. However, I hope to have dinner with her some day, preferably sushi. And when we do meet, I intend to bring her a little something for Anakin, a bottle of Patron Tequila, a bag of limes, some kosher salt and the biggest bottle of Excedrin I can find.

Photo Courtesy of R. O'Connor

I learned a lot reading the memoir “Lift,” by Rebecca K. O’Connor. The first thing I learned is that Rebecca is a liar. Yup. Major liar. It’s not just a “memoir” because it’s not that simple.

Okay, okay, it’s a memoir, but it delivers much,much more than that. If you open the book expecting it to read like an autobiography you will be mistaken. Nor does it really read like a typical memoir, highlighting only the high points of one’s life and excluding the crappy parts. Because Rebecca delivers more crappy parts in her life than you should reasonably expect. You aren’t going to get a glossy, sanitized version of Rebecca’s extraordinary life. Rebecca offers up the parts that were painful, pivotal, meaningful and unforgettable. Some of the passages made me wince. I see three stories here:

First is the story of Rebecca transforming herself into a Falconer through hard work, determination and many pre-dawn mornings. Despite the fact that it seems most Falconers are male and some clearly had an issue with her possessing ovaries, Rebecca persisted. She got a sponsor, a red-tailed hawk and got through two years of apprenticeship, finally ending up hunting with her Peregrine Falcon, Anakin.

Photo courtesy of R. O'Connor

The second is the back story: These are the interjected glimpses of her life as a little girl, living a fractured existence within her extended family. She lived with her parents, then just her Father and spent many years with her Grandparents.  She was moved around so much I kind of lost track. All I could think was, “Good God!”  I kept trying to visualize how I  would have done under those circumstances. Throughout these passages, you can feel the raw, piercing  honesty in the descriptions of her upbringing.

I have to hand it to her. It took a lot of guts and she must have had to conjure up a ton of courage to write the details of her life with such transparency. I mean, my life wasn’t exactly a bed of roses, but this was the life that made Rebecca triumph in a world that has appears to have a tendency to dismiss women. If you know me. you know that this is something that pisses me off to no end. Naturally, it was expected that Rebecca had me completely enthralled when she wrote, “As far a I can see, this is the way of the world. Predator or prey. You choose.”

In Lift, Rebecca writes about the choices she made along the way. Some choices, she was happy with. Others were choices she had to make that were far more undesirable and made out of the necessity of survival.

One moment that stood out was when Rebecca writes about her relationship with a fellow falconer and shared details of about how she bent her life, her habits and held her tongue to keep the relationship intact. While I was reading this, I was thinking that if it were me, I would have told him to pack up his video camera, toss it into his gold Tacoma and drive far, far away.

I’ve handled a few raptors and I cannot explain the feeling of the weight of a hawk or a vulture on your glove. I came totally unglued. It made me swoon. So I understand to a degree how Rebecca feels about them.

Raptors don’t love you. If you’re lucky, and you are a very skilled handler and trainer, you can get them to trust you, respect you and accept you as a partner . What I didn’t know very much about was training a falcon to hunt.

Photo courtesy of Natural Encounters, Inc.

This is the third story in Rebecca’s remarkable book. Falconry is a tricky business and not for the meek. Nature is tough, dirty and bloodthirsty. Rebecca isn’t shy about describing that either. But herein lies the difference between hunting with a falcon and any other form of death by design. On my first trip to Madrid, I had the opportunity to go to a bullfight. I sobbed. But I understood that Spain’s love affair with this spectacle is about the dance of the bullfighter. The bull is coincidental. There is no sport or art in the actual kill. I found it without soul. Without meaning. Without purpose. Personally, I found it to be a bloody circus. I can say that because I saw it first hand and have no intention of returning. What I didn’t like was that it was like watching a movie about the sinking of the Titanic. Nobody ever has to ask how it ends.

From what I’ve been able to gather, falconry is different. Falconry is teamwork, training, and skill. The one thing to remember is that falcons are built to behave this way; they need to eat and they would hunt on their own anyway. The falconer is merely the assistant, arranging the environment for the falcon to behave naturally, but adding the falconer into the equation to participate in the hunt as a partner. But Nature has its ways and Rebecca’s falcon, Anakin doesn’t always land his prey. The quarry he is after always has a shot at survival. It’s fair. It’s real. It’s how nature works.

Photo courtesy of R. O'Connor

In a bullfight, the bull doesn’t stand a chance.

I haven’t had much experience with raptors despite my admiration for them. Rebecca’s description of how she took young Anakin on and what they both learned in the process will leave you thinking about your relationships with your animals, the people in your life, and finally about life itself.

This third story is fascinating. Rebecca has woven a pretty dandy “Introduction to Falconry” manual within the pages of “Lift” as well. She describes falconry equipment, training techniques, housing, care, and even a recipe for preparing a duck she and Anakin hunted and later shared. There are terms I was unfamiliar with, and I would have liked a glossary in the back of the book, but Rebecca has thoughtfully provided one right here at her Falconry Blog, “Operation Delta Duck” to help you with those terms. Lift is a busy book with many stories neatly overlapping into one another. It’s like a Chef’s tasting menu and it also includes a bit on the history of falconry and the endangerment of the peregrine falcon.

Rebecca has a way with words that can encapsulate a truth everyone already knows. But she phrases it in such a way that it jumps off the page and rings in your ears:

“It’s dangerous to be bound to something that can break your heart.”

Perhaps what I learned from most from this book was how true that is. And perhaps that is one of the greatest lessons Nature has to teach us.

Photo courtesy of R. OConnor

“Lift” is gritty, well crafted, and loaded with bits of falconry lore I found totally engrossing. Rebecca’s story will make you cringe, squirm and leave you wanting to applaud her for her courage and nerve. It’s an absolutely wonderful read. Lift “stoops” to conquer.

You can find Rebecca K. O’Connor’s book, “Lift” here at Amazon Books: “Lift” by Rebecca K. O’Connor

The Imaginarium

Posted in African Grey, Birds, Cage set up, Chloe, Chop, Cleaning, Education, Enrichment, Kacey, Macaw, Moluccan Cockatoo, Nutrition, Patricia Sund, Recall, Rescue & Rehabilitation, Simba, Training, Zazu with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 2, 2010 by angelsofflight

When I set out on this little adventure of building The Imaginarium I knew it was going to be a huge undertaking.  My father is an old man and really doesn’t use the downstairs of his house.  In fact he doesn’t even like to bend or climb stairs so it’s undeniably ridiculous that he built a 2-story house.  However, it benefited me and my flock.  While still in the beginning stages, I have cleaned up the cement slab and all that was “stuck” to it.  Some green slimy stuff and threw all the old decrepit furniture that he was saving (for god knows what) to the curb side for pick-up.  Now I have begun setting the stage for The Imaginarium.

The Imaginarium - After clean up

I chose the name, The Imaginarium, instead of simply saying “My Aviary” for the simple reason that not only do my birds need an Aviary, but I need some peace as well.  Here I will be able to relax, reflect, be alone or with friends, dream, escape and simply imagine.  I’ve added a few little friends to the landscaping.  There is “Diva: The Pink Gecko” for some character and of course the faithful “St. Francis” to watch over the birds and I while we are in The Imaginarium.  I imagined the most beautiful sanctuary complete with music, wind chimes, lush green trees, beautiful colorful flowers, and a small vegetable garden with herbs, strawberries, tomatoes and a few others I have yet to pick out.  It is a work in progress for sure.

St. Francis: To watch over my flock

Diva: The Pink Gecko

So needless to say, my 2 non-flyers are enjoying the scenery for the moment until the fencing is put up.  I’ve already started sitting out there with Chloe and Simba and imagining the day away.  Simba and Chloe have become really good friends.  They dance and sing together to the playlist I made for Angels Of Flight Productions.  It has all the music from all of our videos on it and a few Jimmy Buffet songs as well as Kenny Chesney’s “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems” which has quickly adapted as the motto for hanging out at The Imaginarium.  There’s a big wooden sign going up on the wall with that motto on it.

Chloe & Simba: Enjoying the late afternoon

Chloe & Simba: Hanging out after a bath

I am anxiously awaiting the actual fence to go up.  The materials should be here sometime this week.  My contractor assures me that it will be finished by next weekend.  I can’t wait to let Kacey and Zazu out in it.  I love watching them hang upside down on their perches and do all the comical Macaw stuff.  I can only imagine what there going to do with a 20′ x 12′ x 11.5′ Imaginarium.  The possibilities are totally endless.  I’ll be blogging most of the construction and doing some video too.  But for now…relax, pour yourself a “Green Parrot” cocktail, kick off your flip flops and imagine…

A Conviction Of The Heart

Posted in Chloe, Kacey, Macaw, Moluccan Cockatoo, Rescue & Rehabilitation, Training, Uncategorized, Zazu with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 23, 2010 by angelsofflight

Kacey - My Inspiration

When people ask me the question, “What made you start Angels Of Flight?”; I tell them a story of a 6 year old girl who was at The Bronx Zoo in New York in the summer of 1976.  The story starts out as a normal family outing that went very wrong in the afternoon.  While visiting the World Of Birds exhibit, an Umbrella Cockatoo (obviously wild caught since we’re talking 1976) was being exhibited by one of the handlers.  The 6 year old girl was allowed to pet the Cockatoo and for reasons unknown back then, the Cockatoo quickly turned and jumped out of the handlers grip and landed on the little girl.  While the Cockatoo was fluttering about on the little girl he began to bite her and attack her face while the handler and the little girls parents tried rapidly to get the bird off of her.  Scared and crying and bleeding, the little 6 year old girl was deathly afraid of birds from that day on.  Every time she saw a bird she would remember the horrid experience of her childhood and become so scared that she would turn and run in the other direction.  That memory stayed in the little girls mind until she was 37 years old…That little 6 year old girl was me.

Fast Forward…June 2007…

After landing a job at a major pet store I immediately made it very adamant that I was deathly afraid of birds and did not want to have anything to do with them, the Operations Manager thought it quite funny and put me in charge of the bird department…he wasn’t a nice guy…in fact he was quite sinister.  With that being the only job availability in a failing economy, I suppose I had to comply to his outrageous request and take care of these flying creatures that wanted to take my face off.  Everyday was one disaster after another.  I would go home absolutely stressed out. Until one day I made up my mind to try and get over my fears.

Kacey playing with her "Peek-A-Boo" blanket

While working in that glorious bird department and cleaning cages I became friendly with a Sun Conure.  He was beautifully colored and quite a little smarty pants.  every morning I would say hello, he would “wolf whistle” at me and I would thank him for the compliment.  He would come out of his cage and greet me in the morning and I would proceed to clean his cage and give him fresh water and food.  When it was time to go back in his cage I had to get one of the other managers to do it because I was afraid to touch him (again…that damn Cockatoo memory).  One day when it was time to go back in his cage, he lifted his foot at me…cautiously I lifted my finger to him and he stepped up and while shaking like a leaf, I gently put him back in his cage.  I was so excited that I ran out around the store to tell everyone (I must have looked like a complete idiot!).  I was so proud of myself.  I started reading up on Sun Conures and what their true feeding requirements were.  The pet store provided the basics and as I know now…not very admirable or adequate basics.  After all, if I was going to save the $699.99 to buy this little guy from the pet store, I would need to know the correct way to care for him.

Fast Forward…December 2007…

Kacey - Enjoying her life

I finally had the money saved to buy this little guy.  I had a 4 day weekend and on Tuesday, December 4th, 2007 I was going to make the little guy who I named “Skye” mine.  Everybody knew how much I wanted him, that I was diligently saving the money for him and the little relationship I developed with him.  As I went to get the keys to unlock his cage the General Manager, a very nice man unlike his managing counter part, asked me to sit down.  It seemed pretty serious as he had a strange look on his face.  He proceeded to tell me that “Skye” had been sold over the weekend.  As the tears welt up in me I began to cry, I lost my little Sun Conure to the first $699.99 that came through the door.  I taught him how to wave hello, I taught him to hang from my finger and to lay on his back in my hand…he was supposed to be mine!  Now he was not with me, he was with strangers and I would never know if he was ever taken care of the proper way.  The General Manger had tears in his eyes as well and gave me a big hug…although it was a nice gesture, it wouldn’t take away the pain.  He did tell me he had good news though.  He told me of the Operations Manager at another store who was a breeder of exotic birds and had rescued them from time to time.  She had a Sun Conure that needed a home and he had already spoken to her over the weekend about me adopting it.  Well, that wouldn’t be “Skye” but, this little one needed a good home.

I waited a few days and then called the bird lady to inquire about the Sun Conure…which I had already named.  Yup…you guessed it “Skye”.

Helping with the dishes

The conversation somehow went from me adopting a Sun Conure to… “I have a Blue and Gold Macaw that needs a home”.  Ummm…ok…now we’re back to that everlasting “Cockatoo Memory”.  Me being the passive, inexperienced bird person I was, I asked “Isn’t that somewhat bigger than a Sun Conure?”  Yeah well…alot bigger and alot scarier!  So, a week goes by and I decide to go look at the 2 birds…the Sun Conure…and this huge Macaw.  Needless to say, I never got to see the Sun Conure, I found myself driving home with a rescued Blue and Gold Macaw that hated me, didn’t trust anybody, tried to attack me at the aviary and a cage to put together that was bigger than my little rented bedroom.  What in the hell was I thinking??  I knew absolutely nothing about taking care of these birds let alone trying to gain the trust of one that wanted to rip my face off.  Back to the drawing board…time for more research.  Books, internet, friends, bird store owners, sanctuaries and the original bird lady were all helpful.  I took everyone’s opinions and made my own conclusion.  In one week I had this huge bird stepping up without trying to take my arm or my face off…

…Nine months later, Kacey was my best friend…

Kacey & Me

Once I was able to get Kacey out of the cage willfully, we would spend time together watching TV in my room,  hanging out on the porch together or playing “peek-a-boo” on the bed with the covers.  While watching TV together one day, I fell asleep and forgot to put her up in her cage.  An hour later, I woke up to a huge beak wrapped around my nose making kissy noises at me.  Oh my gosh! Please don’t take off my face!…The moment I said that she stopped, flipped herself over on her back, grabbing my hand with her foot and placing it ever so gently in her beak.  The baby noises and kissy noises continued.  I got bold enough and kissed her tummy…Kacey finally accepted me and knew in her heart that I would always love her.

Almost 3 years have passed now and although most of my posting is about Zazu and Chloe, my heart belongs to my one true first.  Kacey is my heart and soul…she came to me when I lost everything in my life including my confidence as a human being.

Angels Of Flight was started for Kacey.  Originally trying to help out the other lost flighted souls that were not wanted and that needed re-homing, AOF branched off and grew into a production company to showcase the wonderful world of exotic birds.  Still working with the rescue portion of the operation, AOF has re-homed 35 birds in the last year.  From the smallest finch to the Mollucan Cockatoo.

I am now over my fear of birds.  They are my life and everything I live for.  My relationships with humans may come and go, but one thing that remains constant in my life is Kacey, Chloe, Zazu and Simba.  They are “The Ambassadors” of Angels Of Flight…but Kacey is the true heart and soul of why Angels Of Flight was started.  People always say it’s great that I rescued her…I correct them…Kacey rescued me.  Kacey has taught me that no matter how bad your life gets there’s always something good waiting around the corner for you.  If you hang in there long enough, life can be an amazing gift.  She is my conviction of the heart.

A Year In The Making

Posted in Birds, Chloe, Education, Enrichment, Kacey, Macaw, Moluccan Cockatoo, Nutrition, Recall, Rescue & Rehabilitation, Training, Zazu with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 19, 2010 by angelsofflight

Zazu at 16 weeks old

The  day my life was blessed by a little Blue and Gold Macaw was June 13, 2009.  She was 16 weeks old and for some reason I was drawn to this little one with 3 of her toes missing instead of the cosmetically perfect other young Macaws that  happened to be at Sue’s aviary.  I always wanted a baby of my own.  I had seen all the bonding and fun people around me had with their baby birds that I never got to experience.  Not that I am complaining about being the permanent rescue home for Kacey and Chloe but, I just wanted a baby to call my own and that would have the same home for the rest of my natural life…and one I could train properly with no hangups.  I guess you could say I wanted to see what all the hoopla was about.  I realized, there is no difference except in patience.

Kacey: The Mistress Of Mayhem

Kacey was by far my biggest challenge.  It took 9 months of training and getting to know her before she trusted me and I trusted her.  She was my first big bird and she will remain with me until I no longer exist.  She tests my patience on a daily basis to see if I will still respond.  Every now and then she will snap at me through the bars of her cage…I suppose it’s sort of a game to her to see if I still love her.  The snap comes and then the scratching of her head to say “YooHoo…I Love You…”  she’s very comical in her testing, I think that’s one of things I love about her so much.  She’s a content bird now and I adore her as my first child.  She’s a very independent bird…unlike the others.  She has adapted well to my fascination with different species and has excepted her other 2 sisters and her brother.  After all she was the only one in my life for a year until Chloe entered the scene.

"Lady Chloe"

Chloe was a sweetheart of a bird…she was  a barber of her wing feathers and every now and then would hit a blood feather that scared the wits out of me.  Back to the computer for more research.  This time I was searching for remedies on feather picking and barbering.  I quickly realized, there’s nothing much I could do except love this sweet beautiful bird who would eventually most likely start picking at other areas as well.  She has now started picking at her chest instead of her wings and I am once again beside myself.  I haven’t changed anything so my wits are strung out again.  I try everyday on a daily basis to help and correct it but this habit is stemmed from something much deeper than before I had her…I will never know Chloe’s whole true story.  All I know now is that she is loved by me and I will take the best care of her I can.

Now…a year after enters the famous Zazu

My friends have enthusiastically watched Zazu grow up on Facebook.  From the awkward, wing clipped, clumsy little Macaw with only 5 toes collectively to the magnificent Blue and Gold Angel she has become over the past year.  This past Wednesday (March 17, 2010…St. Patrick’s Day) was her 1 year birthday…we call it a hatch day.  I look back over the last year to see all that has gone on…  The controversy of me recalling a wing clipped bird at the beach, the fact that she was a baby and not a “real” rescue, the decision to harness train her or not, how to feed her, what to feed her…everyone has their opinion and I took all of those opinions and made my own opinion out of it.  With the help of  few trust worthy friends and a strong heart and mind, Zazu has turned into a dream come true.

Targeting started at the onset of my time with Zazu.  The first night I got her home, I was mixing formula and BOOM…I had a 16 week old Macaw recalling to me…yes it was because she was hungry…and no that is not how I trained her in the months that followed.  I was fortunate enough to know that she had fledged before her wing feathers were hacked so I did have a bit of an advantage.  The following months, once again, brought alot of online research, opinions, and training.  I started inside the confines of my home for the first 3-4 months and then ventured outside.  This was the scary part…although I had all the confidence in the world with Zazu’s and my relationship, accidents can happen.  I was getting the guidance I needed by a well-known trainer and without his help I would have never even thought about doing this.  Her first recalls were in the backyard…a place her and I were familiar with and where I knew if an accident should occur, I would be able to retrieve her.  These training, targeting (on ground and in flight) and recall sessions in the backyard went on for about 2-3 more months with the same sessions going on inside as well.

Let’s jump to the 6 month mark…the first outdoor experience in recall and target training away from the house.

Zazu recalling at the beach

Zazu had become confident as well as I had on the recall and targeting so I decided to take her to the beach one early morning.  Packed up with water, treats and a few birdie friends with their birds, we headed to Port Royal Beach in Naples, Florida on a Sunday morning.  I started out slow with some ground targeting work in the sand for about 20-30 minutes then we graduated to a few recalls ascending off the ground.  As the morning went on, we were recalling off the pilings on the edge of the shore and just had a grand old time.  Zazu was confident and bold and never skipped a beat or a perfect landing.  As the next 6 months went on, friendships were diminished, relationships were severed, and jobs were lost but the one thing that stayed constant was my relationship with Zazu.  She has always been there for me and has never disappointed me.  During the recall training process people kept telling me…be careful, are you worried she’ll fly off and never come back…so forth and so on.  Yes, of course that weighs in the back of my mind. But, with proper training and all the elements that come with proper training such as: Positive Reinforcement, Operant Conditioning, Food Management, etc. the scenario of Zazu flying off and never coming back under normal circumstances are highly unlikely.

Enter…the spook flight…

About a month ago Zazu  and I were having our normal training session in the backyard.  This consists of a few obstacles that I make her overcome on a daily basis such as flying down off the second story deck of the house while I stand in the backyard and recall her…as well as flying into and out of our favorite oak tree that I climb with her as well and have her target to the different branches downward for a safe recall land.  I live behind a middle school and take into account the different times that the kids are changing classes because they can be a distraction sometimes…I learned that this distraction needs to be dealt with.  This one particular day I did not time the distraction correctly and the physical education teacher decided to hold his class in the back of the school near my training session with Zazu.  A flood of children came running across the field and spooked Zazu into our training oak tree in the lot next door.  This wouldn’t have unnerved me as much as the fact that the spook flight occurred off the second story deck.  As I was frantically making sure I knew exactly where she landed I was thankful she targeted to her second obstacle.  Although watching her fly across the field was beautiful I do believe my heart skipped a beat as I walked calmly across the field.  Equipped with a referee whistle and a whole almond (her jackpot emergency recall treat) I could see exactly in the tree where she landed and, gave a quick chirp of the whistle, and a reinforcing “Come here Zazu”, she flew down out of the tree effortlessly, instantly on cue and directly into my hand.  Upon her landing I was greeted with an enthusiastic Macaw “Hi!!”  and a beak snuggle into my neck.  This particular recall could not have been achieved without proper training…and the circumstances could have been alot worse.  This has not stopped our training outside and now after a few sessions of training during the class change at the school, her distraction has turned around to a concentrated effort.  Zazu is by far the smartest Macaw I ever met…I may have that opinion because she is mine but she is very attentive and her concentration and willingness to work to get the job done is far more than I ever expected.

With only 3 more wing feathers on each side to grow out since that first and only hacking…and a year of training under our belt, she just celebrated her 1st birthday.  She gets stronger and more skills everyday.  Turns and banks on a dime like a Cessna and soars like an Eagle…The making of the past year has been one hell of an experience with Zazu…I am enthusiastically looking forward to the next as well as I think Zazu is too…

Zazu and Me: Best Friends Forever

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xcloa1_angels-of-flight-the-ambassadors_animals

Avian Encounters – The Trilogy

Posted in Uncategorized on March 16, 2010 by angelsofflight

Lately alot of people have been asking about a third Avian Encounters.  Although I am very flattered that these videos have received such high recognition in the Avian community, I am a little overwhelmed at the idea of a “Lord Of The Birds” trilogy.  People have often asked me over the past few months, “…what gives you the ideas for creating videos of this caliber and content?”…my answer…”Pure passionate, creative impulse.”  I see more into pictures and video then the naked eye does.  Whether it’s images of people I know or strangers that want to get in on the action, I see the character, the love, the harmony and most of all the peace that they have achieved by having their parrots in their lives.  Now, when you set all of those emotions to music, you get an amazing conceptual visual feeling that the director is trying to portray.

For the people that really know me, they have figured out that I am a very emotional and complex person.  I fly by the seat of my pants at times and it all just seems to work out.  No matter what the tragedy, happiness or forthcoming, I usually grab the bull by the horns and then it’s time to rock and roll.  However, when it comes to my birds and presenting my feelings on screen I try to let the viewer see the video through my eyes and through my heart. Keeping things bottled up inside makes an explosive, creative outcome.  This is my release.  Instead of getting angry and upset at something, I channel my feelings and thoughts to a positive and Viola! …you get another Avian Encounters video…or a good friend gets a personal video made, or I create a project for a falconer in the UK.

Avian Encounters II – A Facebook Collaboration came to me when parts of my own life were up in the air and my feet were not steadily on the ground.  My living arrangements had changed, my personal relationships with friends,  family and work had changed.  After weeks of running in circles I said to myself, “…Christina…slow down, think, and come down from the clouds.”  Avian Encounters II was actually a turning point for me.  It gave me a concentration, the energy, and the focus I needed to (shall we say…) start my life over.  After the production was finished, everything started falling into place.  The job, the friends, the family and the personal self growth…everything got better in an enormous way.  Sometimes you just need an “Out”.  Something to set your sights on and something that will be a magnificent part of your life in the end.  Hence, this is why we have parrots isn’t it?  They are the inspiration that drives me everyday.  The jolt in my heart I feel every time Zazu takes a flight when called and lands gracefully in my hand is the sole inspiration to my work.  I remember the very first recall in the kitchen at my former home.  She was 16 weeks old and the clumsiest little Macaw you would ever meet.  Now I watch her as she soars around the house or outside in the backyard with only 3 more flight feathers to grow out.  She has turned into a beautiful Blue and Gold angel.  Kacey, Chloe, and Simba are my little problem children.  They also inspire my work with presenting the rescue portions of pictures and video.  Each one has their own story of tragedy, loss, and overcoming what seemed to be impossible.  They are the true heroes of my visual enterprise and my conceptual need to fill the community with their stories and what I know.

The third and final chapter to the Avian Encounters Series is in production.  The music is being picked out and Angels Of Flight Productions is now copyrighted and trademarked.  This will be the final chapter to a  year and a half project that has brought me controversy, happiness, pain, joy, tears, friendships, arguments, and love.  But I must say this…Avian Encounters has been a fantastic adventure in amateur film making for me.  My Visual Production Assistant, Lisa Granucci, is by far the best friend, confidant, and assistant through my visual blocks that sometimes occur during production.  For this, I thank her for putting up with me, and being honest with me when a transition just down right sucks…being from New York City as  well we just have a great understanding of each other.

All in all, my life is filled with wonder, amazement, joy and breathtaking scenarios on a daily basis.  These are the elements that inspire my work and drive me to 100’s of hours creating a video for the world to view.  I hope each one of you enjoy watching them as much as I enjoy making them.  When they are finished and processed, the first watch through is one of the most amazing feelings I get.  I cry, I laugh, I smile, and I sigh at the end of a job well done.  I hope to know one day if you could actually see and feel what I do when I watch the Avian Encounters Series…It’s a most breathtaking emotionally charged experience that lasts a lifetime.  These are the elements of my life that I embrace everyday.  So in closing, I would like to say to the fans of Angels Of Flight Productions, thanks for watching and stay tuned for Avian Encounters III – The Finale due out August 2010.

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xc5778_avian-encounters-i_animals

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xc4ktr_avian-encounters-ii_animals