Archive for Petco

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.

Harness That Bird!!!!

Posted in Birds, Education, Enrichment, Recall, Training, Uncategorized, Zazu with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 11, 2010 by angelsofflight

Zazu...Unharnessed at the beach.

When it comes to harness training I have mixed feelings.  Some birds need it and some birds don’t.  If you are going to keep your birds fully flighted and train them for recall and free flight then the proper skills  need to be obtained, therefore removing the need for a harness.  However, there are those people that don’t train for such things but want to give their birds the opportunity to fly and that’s ok too.  Within the confines of a large aviary or in a well planned and thought out home catered towards your birds, training for flight can be very rewarding.  As far as the harness goes, some people use it for extra precaution when going to town or on vacation with their bird even though the bird is highly trained and a motivated flyer…this is acceptable as well.  However, if a harness is not used properly it is detrimental.  It can damage a birds crop, back, wings and possibly have fatal effects on your feathered companion.  For instance, it is heartbreaking and I cringe when I see a flighted bird on a harness, it is allowed to take off at full speed just to be pulled back by the person holding the other end and then hits the ground with an amazing “THUMP”.  Talk about damage!!!  Now you’ve #1…Ruined his self confidence about flying, #2…Choked the hell out of his crop and possibly damaged something and #3…possibly cracked his keel bone!!  Yeah!!  That’s Positive Reinforcement!!  For the seasoned harness users this could make you want to smack the person upside the head and wrap a dog collar around their neck attached to a leash and send them off the Empire State Building…but in a perfect society we can’t do that!

"Daphne" (Barb Saunders' D2) recalls on a harness

My friend Barb Saunders, author of BarbsBirdsandAviary, uses a harness on her birds when traveling on vacation and talk about a seasoned harness user…the woman knows EVERYTHING about using a harness (she taught me a few tricks when I used to use one with Zazu).  Her birds are trained for recall.  She is very cautious where she recalls her birds eliminating the startle flight as much as possible and just having fun.  In this case a harness is, in my opinion, a grand little accessory.  She is able to set her bird down and recall it in short flights off a railing, a rock, etc.  She doesn’t send her birds flying into the air just to retract them back.  The harness in this case is used properly without any damage to the bird and training has been obtained to make sure both Barb and her birds are safe. “Daphne”, Barbs’ Ducorps Cockatoo was trained at the early age of 3 months old to wear a harness.  This is an important factor.  While Barb has eliminated the use of harnessing, Daphne is a seasoned veteran when it comes to a harness and if need be will wear one without any fuss.  You can’t just slap on a harness and expect your feathered baby to enjoy wearing one!!  It is a patient process and one that needs to be introduced slowly.

Zazu wore a harness in the early stages of her training.

When I was initially training Zazu on her jump flights I admit I used a harness a couple of times.  This was in the early stages of her outdoor training away from her comfort zone and I didn’t want my young (baby) bird to get startled and fly off into a parking lot and get hit by a car…I’m sure you could understand that.  As the months went on, her confidence built as well as mine with different outings and socialization such as the beach, work, and outdoor restaurants.  Therefore I removed the harness after training her to fly down 25 feet out of an oak tree and off the roof of the house…just in case these issues ever came up.  Mind you, those were scary training sessions and SHOULD NOT be done without the help and guidance of a professional.  When going to work she would take off when I called her and fly from the register area to the aquatics department landing safely and securely in the palm of my hand…this is now a properly trained bird at 10 months old.  I have all the confidence in the world with her and I do not use a harness on her at all anymore…it’s my preference.  Her wing feathers are growing out nicely as well and training continues on a daily basis.  As she acquires more wing feathers, she acquires more height and more distance therefore increasing the training for recall.

Zazu...in flight during recall training at the beach.

In one of my seminars I did “Advanced Avian Education” I touched on the recall method and use of a harness.  Obviously there is always that one bad apple in the bushel so trying to convince this man that keeping his Ducorps Cockatoo fully flighted when she was just used as an accessory in his home to make it look more tropical was a bad idea…he found an invitation for an argument…and so my point began.  If you randomly let your bird fly with no recall training, food management, enrichment, positive reinforcement, and so on…you are headed for no where except disaster.  Trying to explain that to this man was a losing battle for me so I finished our argument by giving him my phone number and telling him to give me a call when his bird was up in a 25 foot tree and wouldn’t come down.  Funny thing is, I got a call from his wife 2 weeks later frantically telling me their bird was on the roof of their house and they couldn’t get her down.  They opted for me to teach them about harness training…hummm.

Barb harnesses her birds while on vacation.

So when it comes to wearing a harness…I am all for them providing they are used correctly, maintained in condition, used for the proper purpose, and the bird is trained to wear them (Yes…you need to train your bird to wear them or they think it’s another “scud missile” coming at them from afar!!!).  There are a variety of harnesses to choose from however, Barb and I choose the aviator harness which is available online or through your local pet supply store.  This is a fantastic little tool…use it wisely…PLEASE!!!!

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

www.goldencockatoo.com

An Experience Of A Lifetime!!!!!

Posted in Birds, Chloe, Education with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 5, 2009 by angelsofflight

Recently I had an incredible opportunity to do a little bit of traveling.  One of the most fantastic places on earth to visit is the West,  Utah to be exact.  The landscape is absolutely magnificent and the mountains seem to blend in with the sky creating the most serene feeling a person could ever have.

Nestled into the southern part of Utah there is a little town called Kanab.  Lying on the border about 30 minutes from Fredonia, Arizona, it’s a quaint little town with a grocery store, a gas station and several locally owned restaurants.  Right in the heart of Angel Canyon, Kanab Utah is also home to the largest animal sanctuary in the world…Best Friends Animal Society.  Best Friends boasts 3800 acres of land plus another 30,000 acres of wild life preserve, and some of the nicest people you ever want to meet and honorably call “friend”.

About a year and a half ago, when I was contemplating adding another rescue bird to my family, I contacted Best Friends to inquire about a Hyacinth Macaw they had for adoption.  I promptly got a call back from a very nice man named Steve Scheurich who was head of Operations at the Parrot Garden at Best Friends.  Sadly that lovely Hyacinth already had a new home but fortunately it was a good one (and I found Chloe anyway!!).  However, that phone call started my journey and my great friendship with one of the most intelligent men I know.  I finally got to meet Steve (in person) this year and his phenomenal staff.  May I say I was thoroughly impressed with the standards of excellence that was presented to me.  We exchanged ideas, information and yes… the feeding concept of CHOP!!  When I saw the astronomical amounts of vegetables that were being cut up I took  control of the refrigerator and that was the end of that!!  Step aside boys…I’m about to show you a fantastic little trick!! Haha!!!  I gave Steve a great piece of reading material…Parrot Nation authored by Patricia Sund, the founder of the CHOP concept.  I then gave everyone a little demonstration on how to make CHOP and POOF!!!  The Parrot Garden at Best Friends Animal Society has converted all the birds to the CHOP concept!!!  Way to go guys!!!

While I was there spending the day at the Parrot Garden with everyone, Steve conveyed to me if I ever needed someone to cover seminars or a speaker on rescue and rehabilitation to keep him in mind…well…with Tapestry Of Nations 2010 coming up in January, how could I pass an offer like that up???  Oh my goodness!!!  An icon!!  At my event!!  Between Patricia Sund being there with Parker, Pepper and Mattie the dog and now Steve Scheurich from the Parrot Garden at Best Friends!!!  I am sure to have a spectacular event!!!  Got to love networking!!!

All in all my trip to Kanab, Utah was  a productive one.  There is still alot of my trip I have not written down but as the information becomes available, I will share it and pass it along to my blog followers.    It’s kinda one of those trips that you come home feeling rejuvenated and can’t wait to see what the next turn in life is going to be…there’s alot out West for me that needs to be explored.  I’m thinking the Springtime would be the perfect time to start that exploration…we’ll see.  My time spent there was very eye-opening and the people are just kind and generous…REAL people!!!

For now, I am content knowing I have great friends like Steve and Patricia.  The honesty and the true meaning of friendship cannot be anymore defined for me then in both of them.  They are two of the greatest people I know and the awesome favor they are doing for me on January 16th will be hard to repay.  Thank you to you both for honoring me and my co-workers at Petco in Naples, Florida for the Tapestry Of Nations.  It will be an event that people will remember for a very long time!!!