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Jeanne's Birds go to Camp

Posted By: Jeanne Harney

Jeanne's Birds go to Camp - 05/05/02 08:55 PM

Well, my family has been involved in a youth weekend camp for most of my life (I was one of the founders when I was 15 years old, through 4-H) and though I got out of it, my daughter, mother, and sister are all extremely involved, so they asked me to bring some of the birds up.

They wanted "showy" so of course, the Toos were going to be involved. I took Fred and Luna, and also took Elmo the Sun Conure and Gab the OWA. Thought for sure that Elmo would be the one everyone could hold and who would show off the most, as he loves people, and let's face it, IF a child got bitten, I'd rather it be from a Sun than from one of the Toos.

The birds had other ideas. Elmo freaked totally, and never got out of his carrier. I don't know why...
Gab OWA was nice, and talked to the kids, but really would rather not have been too close to them, though he did let my nieces hold him and show him off a bit. (3 of my 5 nieces were in my session, out of about 25 kids)
Luna let me hold him for the kids, and I got to talk a bit about why Luna decided to hate me, and about how they tend to be "one person" birds in many cases. He let anyone pet him as long as Ron held him, and my nieces cuddled him and he was fine with it. He fell in love with a German exchange student named Steffi who was there. She'd never been around large birds before, but they really hit it off...she may want to contact you, Gitti, when she goes back home, if you're close to her. She'd like to learn more.

But Fred...wow. I was totally blown away. Remember, Fred was hurt BADLY by teenaged boys. Fred is not always the most calm guy. Fred hasn't been around children. At one point, I counted *9* children wrist deep in his feathers at one time, petting him, with him still saying "C'mere" to anyone who wasn't close enough. He gave kisses. He flirted. He talked. He cuddled. He was a total attention-freak! It was WONDERFUL to see.

I don't realize, sometimes, that many kids have never been close to a big bird. I forget that it is totally amazing to them that someone so big can be so gentle. (Fred preening my eyelashes completely freaked them out)

We talked a lot about how much attention they take. About how they can mutilate. About how expensive they are, not only to buy, but to keep properly. About diet. And the kids were wonderful too. Nobody rushed the birds. EVERY kid there approached slowly, asked permission to pet, didn't yell or startle the guys, and this was even after the session, when we stayed around and wandered the camp, letting Fred and Luna see the kids playing and doing their activities.

It was a really good day.

Jeanne
Posted By: Michael

Re: Jeanne's Birds go to Camp - 05/05/02 09:41 PM

Jeanne,

That is great, spread the word and educate (especially the young).

Mike
Posted By: Randa

Re: Jeanne's Birds go to Camp - 05/06/02 01:12 AM

Jeanne, that is such a cool thing to hear. How old were the kids? And wasn't Freds reaction bizarre and wonderful? Living with my Grey, I am sometimes amazed that I can second guess HIM at all. Birds are so alien, you really never can be sure of much, sometimes. Thank you for not selling those kids a Disney-esque picture of what great pets they are. Next time, bring the less showy guys, too, and remind them that looks don't matter when someone is screaming at you! lol (There will be a next time, right?)
Posted By: Jeanne Harney

Re: Jeanne's Birds go to Camp - 05/06/02 10:11 AM

Jeanne, that is such a cool thing to hear. How old were the kids?

9-13, with counselors mostly about 15 or 16.

And wasn't Freds reaction bizarre and wonderful? Living with my Grey, I am sometimes amazed that I can second guess HIM at all. Birds are so alien, you really never can be sure of much, sometimes.

One of the first things I told/asked them was how many of them had pets at home. Then I told them that dogs have been domesticated for 40,000 generations. Cats more than 30,000 generations. They're used to humans. And most large birds' parents or grandparents come straight from the wild. We talked about how much my Greater would cost, and how those were the pigeons in Australia and how many are killed each day, and the destruction they wreak on crops, etc.

Thank you for not selling those kids a Disney-esque picture of what great pets they are. Next time, bring the less showy guys, too, and remind them that looks don't matter when someone is screaming at you! lol (There will be a next time, right?)

I do a lot of kids' talks. Mostly in the schools, and they mostly center on the rainforest, which means the snakes, iguanas, amazons and conures go, but the Toos stay home. This was well-received though, so I think I'll probably go back. I've taken the snakes up there before, but I really had no idea how many kids had never handled a bird. Wierd.

Jeanne
Posted By: Amy Taveras

Re: Jeanne's Birds go to Camp - 05/06/02 02:12 PM

I'm so glad you agree that exposing children to these birds can really accomplish many wonderful things. Allowing them to interact with your larger birds, though potentially dangerous, was I'm sure an incredible treat for the kids. Education is the key and the more young people we reach, the happier our companion parrots will be in the future. Hurray for you, Jeanne!
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