Archive for Knowledge

The Avian Jewel Of Hollywood Florida

Posted in African Grey, Birds, Chop, Enrichment, Macaw, Nutrition, Patricia Sund, Zazu with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 7, 2010 by angelsofflight

On my recent adventure to the East coast of Florida I had the privilege of being introduced to a whole new world of “Birdie Shopping”.  The East coast has so much more to offer for our feathered friends as opposed to the West coast.  There are more specialty shops catering to our feathered counterparts as well as a whole different way of thinking and caring for them.  Everything is more natural and more catered towards the environment and enrichment opportunities that they have there.  With superstores such as PETCO, Pet Smart and Pet Supermarket being really the only avenues for shopping for your birds here in Naples, Florida; they tend to not only cater more to the smaller birds but lack the variety of foods to be sold that we now know the Avian Community needs to fulfill our parrots lives and keep them healthy.  Don’t get me wrong, there are certain “mom and pop owned” stores here that have a bit more variety that you can travel an hour to get to, but why would you do that when just a half hour more driving will get you a plethora of specialties?  Thus this is why The Golden Cockatoo is considered their Avian “Jewel” of Hollywood, Florida.

"Casey" the African Grey

Aside from being one of the major Avian focal points of  the East coast, The Golden Cockatoo also has some amazing and knowledgeable residents.  For instance, “Casey” the African Grey (owned by Susana) greets you when you walk in and firmly reminds you that you are in his neck of the woods so please act and spend accordingly!!  “FCAT” is a Black-headed Caique owned by Richard Horvitz (the President of The Golden Cockatoo).  “FCAT” tends to watch the customers and invite them over for a scritch of his neck.  The whole cast and crew of The Golden Cockatoo makes you feel warm and welcomed in the store.  Any questions you may have they are right there to answer for you.  With 2000 square feet full of Avian paradise for shoppers it’s no wonder why Ian Brown and Richard Horvitz  set out to make the most convenient and variety filled store you could possibly think of.  The customer service, the prices, and the variety of the store just boasts a fantastic shopping experience all the way around!  You know if Patricia Sund is shopping there, the place has to be phenomenal!

Richard Horvitz (President) and Patricia Sund (Parrot Nation)

The ambiance of The Golden Cockatoo is sort of a “Grocery Store For Birds”.  Providing a huge selection from sprouting supplies, nuts, dried veggies and fruits the store has anything and everything you could possibly think of to make your fine feathered friend happy.  During my shopping experience there I found this fantastic bag of grass!  (No…not what your minds are thinking!!)  Avian Herb Salad!!!  This stuff, when put into our ever popular CHOP! provides all the natural grasses and herbs our Avian friends need such as dandelion, red clover, elderberry, lavender, kelp and so on.  I was so amazed at the all natural selection of foods for my birds I went completely nuts and bought up a bunch of it!  The Golden Cockatoo also manufactures their own line of all natural foods and feeds; Noah’s Kingdom has become a household name here at Angels Of Flight! and the dogs like it too!  Fantastic nut and seed mixes provide all the daily essentials that we put into our CHOP!  Again, there is such a plethora of items and ideas you can come up with that it’s no wonder I was there shopping for two and half hours!!

Aisle #1 of the "Grocery Store"

Aisle #2...All Natural "Grocery Store For Birds"

Now onto the toys…what a subject here!!  Words cannot explain the amount of toys there are to choose from!!  “Petco Who?”, “Petsmart what?”  These stores don’t exist anymore when The Golden Cockatoo shows up!!  The assortment of toys, foraging, shredding, wood, plastic, footy toys, beaky toys and so on is enough to give you a happy little buzz!!  There are walls and walls of TOYS!!!  I think that is where the bulk of my time was spent…filtering through walls of toys…I think I made Patricia a bit dizzy running all over the store.  Zazu (my 10 month old Blue and Gold) is a hard chewer.  I get the biggest toys I can find here in Naples at Petco and Petsmart and within an hour…there goes my $24.95 down the drain.  With the toys I picked up at the Golden Cockatoo, after 3 weeks, they are still holding strong!!!  Go Zazu…chew all you want!!  She was so happy I found toys for her that have lasted this long.  I’m a bit on the excited side as well that my purse isn’t in the red zone every week!

Walls full of toys!!

I would have to say that The Golden Cockatoo has to be my all time favorite shopping experience for me.  I am definitely going to make it a point to travel there at least every other month to stock up on supplies.  This has been just another great adventure that Angels Of Flight has had.  I think there might be an idea in my future and a great collaboration for us here in Naples, Florida…hummm…maybe I won’t have to drive over to Hollywood as often as I think…the wheels are always spinning for me!!

So, in closing, if you get a day off from work and you are looking for something to do…I highly suggest getting in your car and driving over to Deerfield Beach, Florida to check out The Golden Cockatoo.  It is a drive and a shopping experience that you will never forget.  I’m so happy I don’t have to wait for the “Bird Fair” to come to town anymore.  I just pack up “Simone” and we are off to Aunt Patricia’s house for some relaxation and birdie shopping at The Golden Cockatoo…our favorite paradise for birds on earth!

Y'all Come Back Now!!!!

The Golden Cockatoo

360-366 South Powerline Road

Deerfield Beach, FL  33442

Phone: (954) 725-0088


PETCO Foundation Steps Up To The Plate

Posted in Rescue & Rehabilitation with tags , , , , on August 14, 2009 by angelsofflight
Normally I wouldn’t post anything about the place I work on my blog.  However, an article came through our intranet news that struck my heart and made me realize WHY I support the PETCO Foundation and WHY every event I do at my store goes in support of this non-profit organization.  The PETCO foundation is a great organization that caters to assisting adoption agencies and stepping in when disaster strikes.  Aside from the Red-Cross and the ASPCA, the PETCO Foundation has made more contribution then any other humanitarian organization in the United States.   There web site’s definition is as follows:
The PETCO Foundation was established in 1999 to promote a wide variety of nationwide educational and charitable activities. PETCO Foundation has grown our partnership to approximately 5,700 local animal welfare organizations who save and enrich pet lives at the grassroots level. Through the years, the PETCO Foundation has raised more than $53 million through a combination of fundraisers including the well-known Tree of Hope, Spring A Pet, Operation Alteration and Thanks Fore Giving. In addition, the PETCO Foundation is always prepared to launch immediate fund raising efforts in the case of natural disasters and emergencies such as the California Wildfires and the southern hurricanes.
In recent news we heard of a canary/saffron finch fighting ring going on in the Northeast.  Last month in Shelton, Connecticut 19 (so-called human) individuals were arrested and 150 birds were taking into the custody of the local animal control.  At that time, there was no housing available for the birds until PETCO Store #760 stepped in.  Tom Page, District 44 Manager made a call to Paul Jolly, our Executive Director of PETCO Foundation and explained the situation.  Paul immediately sprang into action and arranged for 60 cages to be delivered from our New Jersey Distribution Center to Store #760 to aid in the relief effort for these birds of misfortune.  While we are supplying food and necessary items to keep the birds happy and start their rehabilitation process, PETCO Foundation will also be on hand to assist in the adoption efforts for the birds.  With some of the birds being very badly injured, PETCO is also helping out with the medical assistance needed for the birds.  Unfortunately while the investigation is still going on, the birds must remain in the custody of the state…but PETCO and animal control will be working side by side to ensure the safety and health of the birds while they are there.
This is the kind of story that makes me proud to work where I do.  Alot of hear-say and such has spread over the years about PETCO and other pet stores and while some of it is true with other stores, I am extremely honored to be part of the PETCO Foundation and all it stands for.  The achievements of this company and it’s mission is by far the most relevant in the Nation aside from the rescue organizations that we are partners with.  This includes alot of high profile rescues around the globe as well.  PETCO stores have already reduced their live animal sales by 33% Nationwide and every store in the Tampa Bay market does not even sell birds anymore.  Our vision for 2010 is to “Take Back The Leadership of The Pet Industry”…this does not mean just sales and profit…this refers to finding loving, forever homes for every unwanted, abused, neglect or in need of assistance animal we can.  PETCO’s leadership in an industry that has so much heartache can turn it around 150 birds at a time and present a positive outcome for some of the most horrific situations.
PETCO_logoSo when someone starts ragging on the company I work for (and doesn’t know I am the Companion Animal Department Manager)…I always refer them to stories like this.  This tends to shut them up sometimes and if it doesn’t, then I have no use for that person.  We are doing our part and everything we can to help fight with the cause…not against it!!  If one organization can do so much…can you imagine what the world can do if they would stop ragging on companies like mine and actually worked side by side with us…hummmm…what a logical concept!!  But, the world is cruel sometimes and those people feel it more necessary to try and degrade a company that is raising $53 million to help animals in need instead of praising them.  Put your negative efforts into a positive motion…whether it’s the PETCO Foundation or another organization.  Channel your energy to help…not condemn.

The PETCO Foundation is responsible for coordinating the donation of in-kind goods and services through our partners to animals in need of assistance.  The PETCO Foundation dedicates its programs to serving the Four R’s- Reduce, Rescue, Rehabilitate, Rejoice. We strive to achieve our mission by creating responsible pet owners, reducing the number of animals euthanized, rescuing animals in crisis and rehabilitating undesirable behaviors in pets to keep them in a loving home.

Now I ask you…does that really sound like an organization you want to turn your back on?…I know I wouldn’t!

To Rescue Or Not To Rescue…That Is The Answer!

Posted in Education, Enrichment, Rescue & Rehabilitation with tags , , , , , , , , on July 5, 2009 by angelsofflight


…And what an answer it is!!!

I have had the pleasure of rescuing three birds (Kacey, Chloe, and Sophie) and let me tell you…it wasn’t always a pleasure but one heck of a learning experience!!  Between the distrust, feather shredding, biting and what have you…let’s just say I have a few…ummm…”Enrichment Battle Wounds“.  Unfortunately, the knowledge I have today I didn’t have back then so, I’m making up for lost time.

The body language of a parrot can tell you a whole bunch of things.  I often sit and observe my birds with such great awe marking their body movements, listening to their vocalizations and watching the way they interact with each other.  The same goes for that rescue parrot you brought home last month that you still can’t get near because he lunges at you through the cage!  Hence…the rehabilitation starts!

Trust is a big issue when it comes to a rescue bird.  The first step is gaining their trust.  If you are fortunate to know of any trauma that went on in the previous home then you are one step ahead of the game.  One of the toughest rescue situations is the “unknown”.  Patience is a virtue when it comes to this…because of the unknown we have no idea what has happened.  Through trial and error we make our decisions on how to go about the first steps of rehabilitation.  I am going to use Kacey (my 11 year old Blue and Gold Macaw) for an example.  I was fortunate enough to know about Kacey’s background.  She was 10 when I got her and for the first 7 years of her life she had been physically beaten and abused, knocked off her perch in her cage by a water hose on a daily basis, on a diet consisting of nothing but peanuts and with all of this combined…untrustworthy.  I would be too if you treated me that way.  She didn’t trust strangers and that was exactly what I was to her.  I had to be careful feeding her…she would lunge at me through the cage.  So, I figured she loves peanuts, I will use that to get her to step up.

Every morning I would wrap my arm in 2 towels, an ace bandage to keep the 2 towels on and a long sleeved sweatshirt with gloves on (I live in Florida…this is not proper attire!).  I would open the cage door, put my hand out to her and show her the peanut.  If she even just put one toe up to me…she would get the peanut…if she snapped at the peanut (and my hand) I would drop the peanut through the grate of her cage and close the door.  I would get a polite “Uh Oh” from her and then come back 10 minutes later and try it again.  Within a week I had her stepping up to me.  This is what we call Positive Reinforcement (R+).  She steps up or makes an attempt to…she gets the peanut.  She didn’t always get the peanut… an obnoxious, “GOOD GIRL” from me seemed to make the same impression.  This type of training is used with your baby birds as well.  While all cute and cuddly, they are eventually going to grow up.  R+ needs to be started immediately during weaning!  I cannot stress that enough!!  The last thing you want is a parrot that dominates your home.  Through R+ Training and Enrichment you obtain a mentally, physically and emotionally healthy parrot.  Great reading and DVD’s on this subject can be purchased at GoodBird, Inc. and The Leather Elves there are 2 major training tools I use and that is the book Good Bird by Barbara Heidenreich and the DVD Enriching Your Parrot’s Life by Robin Shewokis.  Thanks to Patricia Sund…these have become my bibles!!  This is a joint adventure.  It is a partnership…you work together to achieve the goal. 

So…the answer remains…To Rescue Or Not To Rescue…There is a sense of personal achievement when that rescue bird finally steps up to you instead of lunging at you.  It is a slow and patient process.  I will tell you from personal experience, it has been the greatest achievement of my life so far.  I am the Companion Animal Department Manager at a local Petco store and everyday I see animals being brought in by customers that cannot take care of them.  Some enter the store in a purse or a bag and left in a kennel on our shelves.  All I can say is this…there are so many unwanted animals out there in shelters and rescues that there aren’t enough people for.  Petco is already doing their part by lowering the animals they sell by 30%!  That is a big step for the pet industry!  I am happy to say that the discontinued sales of birds is on it’s way as well…an even bigger step!  Think adoption first before you go to the pet store and pay an astronomical amount of money for a bird (or any animal).  Do your homework and research on what species is appropriate for you, your family and your lifestyle.  Weigh the pros and cons, discuss WHY you want to add a bird to your home.  Remember…the idea of getting a bird to match the color of your couch and make your home look more tropical is NOT the reason to get one!!  I see it all the time…especially where I live in Florida.  People get a big bird to make their house look more ” Florida like”.  It doesn’t work, they have no idea how to train the bird, no resources, or the desire to learn and that’s when they wind up in the shelters here (it’s not the only reason but one of them).  For the “die-hard” bird lovers…we never let the novelty wear off of owning such beautiful creatures.  You own an exotic animal that was born to be wild…there is no “taming” that animal…only to teach them right from wrong.

Meet The Girls

Posted in Birds, Education, Rescue & Rehabilitation with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 4, 2009 by angelsofflight


In the Winter of 2007 I had the honor of meeting “Sue”.  A breeder of exotic birds and a woman with a big heart.  Not only did Sue breed exotic birds but she also rescued them from time to time from homes that are not so worthy of owning such birds.  She had mentioned to a mutual friend that she had a 10 year old Blue and Gold Macaw that she needed to find a good home for.  She had known the bird for quite some time and it had been shuffled from one neglection home to another over the course of 7 years.  Some abuse had taken place and it was time to find a reputable home that was going to take care of “Kacey”.

On December 22, 2007 Kacey became part of my family…9 months later she became my best friend…

The first time I met Kacey was at Sue’s aviary.  She was extremely untrustworthy and had issues that stemmed from the neglection and abuse she had received from her previous owners.  She ran across the floor at me and attempted to attack.  Thank goodness for Sue being there.  At the time I didn’t know that much about Macaws, let alone being the possible owner of a rescue.  I took Kacey home that night not knowing where this would all lead for me and the relationship I was going to have with a huge bird that had a huge beak!  One that could easily snap my hand off my wrist!  I didn’t trust Kacey and she didn’t trust me.  Music seemed to soothe her anxiety so I would sing “My Girl” by the Temptations…she would swing back and forth in her cage on her swing.  After a week of this she was stepping up without snapping at me.  That was the beginning of her rehabilitation as well as mine.  She never pushed me and I never pushed her…it was always mutual ground.  When she was ready and willing I would take it to the next level.  9 months later I was taking a nap and had left her out on my bed.  I woke up to a big beak making kissing noises on my nose and snuggling in the sheets with me…we were now inseparable.  2 weeks later she flipped over on her back and started kissing me again.  This was her thank you to me as well as her acceptance of me…we were now the best of friends. 

Every night before bedtime, Kacey kisses me goodnight.  When I come home from work late at night and it’s dark in the house she says with a whisper, “Shh, mommy’s home”.  She talks to me all day and we seem to understand what each other is saying.  The reward of having Kacey after 9 months of rehabilitation on both our parts is an emotion that can’t be explained.  It has been the biggest, greatest adventure of my life.  Kacey has the ability to outlive me and she will be my best friend and the biggest accomplishment of my life until the day I take my last breath…



In April of 2008 we had the pleasure of meeting Chloe, a Moluccan Cockatoo that was by far the most comical bird we had ever seen.  After spending many years in a home full of smoke she was covered in nicotine.  Once again, “Sue” our trust worthy aviary owner had rescued this beautiful little girl from an unfit home.  Chloe had issues of not so much plucking her wing feathers, but shredding them.  Her anxiety level was sky high.  Thinking that maybe she should have a mate, Sue’s male Moluccan Cockatoo was looking for a girlfriend.  6 months later, Chloe was part of our family.

We had been talking about adding another bird to our home and it only felt right to bring in another rescue.  We made the phone call to Sue and asked how Chloe was doing in the breeding program.  We were happy to find out that she wasn’t.  Again, trusting our husbandry and the lives of her rescue birds with us, Sue gave us our second rescue girl…Chloe.

Chloe is now the main character in our presentations showing off her many talents like hanging from her beak and flapping her wings from her coop cup on her perch and telling the audiance how pretty she is.  Her feather shredding will always be an issue as she has seperation anxiety.  With alot of cuddle time and kisses, she is a bright, comical, spastic little girl that we have tons of fun with.



 This Congo African Grey was an unexpected surprise.  Left at a forclosed home, in a cage, on the back porch with no food or water Sophie came into our lives and quickly adapted in a matter of weeks.  She was a baby…not even a year old when we found her.  After being a part of our family she has matured and blossomed into your typical African Grey…boy does she LOVE to eat!  Sophie is the most talkative of our flock and she picks up on words and phrases in a matter of weeks (sometimes days), so we are always watching out for what we say in the house…our motto is…”If you don’t want your parrot repeating it…don’t say it!”

Sophie still has issues with being “hand-fed”.  Now when I say hand fed, I mean taking food (almonds, peanuts, fruit, etc.) from our hand.  This has made it a bit difficult to train her.  She loves food, she just doesn’t like it handed to her.  This leads me to believe that maybe an incident had happened where she was “reprimanded” a bit to harshly while being fed by hand.  It’s OK though…little by little with baby steps and positive reinforcement (R+) training, she’ll get on track.

The African Grey is by far one of the most intelligent companion birds.  Sophie picks up on everything that Kacey and Chloe say.  Her favorite words are, “Peek-a-boo” and “Chloe is a pretty girl”.  We are still learning about Sophie on a daily basis.  She is an amazing little bird and despite her beginning in life…she has become a major part of a good home…she is the ultimate Cinderella story.



On March 17th, 2009 a little Blue and Gold Macaw was born at Sue’s aviary, The Baby Bird Shoppe. 

 While at a bird show in Orlando with Sue, I was helping her out with the 18 birds she had brought with her.  This particular baby Blue and Gold Macaw was a very special one.  She was one of 6 that Sue had brought with her that day and the only one that had a cosmetic difference (so to speak).  On one foot there were three toes and on the other only two.  All the birds were sold that day except for one…Zazu.

 Sue hadn’t planned on going home with any birds that day, only the ones she was considering on purchasing.  Then came the question, “Do you want her?”  Ok…now, I ask anybody in their RIGHT mind…who wouldn’t take a 14 week old baby Blue and Gold Macaw for free and despite the cosmetic imperfection?  Uh…right!  Well…that settled that!  Zazu was on her way back with me to Naples, Florida!! 

Despite her “handicap” you would never know she had one…in fact, she doesn’t even know she has one!!  She is treated as though she had all of her toes…her balance and coordination is precise.  Being a fledgeling bird, Zazu has now entered into training for flight recall (which is a SLOW process with fantastic results) under the Internet guidance of some of the most celebrated trainers and the support of Angela Herschel and Barb Saunders  in California (those two ladies have put me in touch with some great people in the Avian World that I am forever grateful).  I am so OCD with teaching Zazu the right way…ya know, my first baby and everything.  I thank my lucky stars I have all the right people helping me out and contributing their knowledge and educating me the correct way for the betterment of me and Zazu.  This has also helped with the others (Kacey, Chloe, and Sophie).  They are getting the idea of positive reinforcement and enrichment.  Although the others do not recall in flight mode, they engage in the concept on a daily basis.

These methods prove to work!  There is nothing better then a parrot that WANTS to come to you…instead of a parrot that feels he/she has no choice.