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Kids Say The Cutest Things

By Amy Baggs
Follow Amy's Adventures In A Day In The Pet Bird Store

Bubu, a parrot 
Photos courtesy Amy Baggs
Bubu waited patiently for class to start.
 

Alfie, a blue mountain lorikeet 
Blue mountain lorikeet Alfie sat on Ms. Lanie's head during class 

Rowan, a Poicephalus 
Poicephalus Rowan took a seat on Roan's head.

I cannot express how much I enjoy working with parrots! In my job I get to see all different breeds of parrots from parrotlets to hyacinth macaw parrots. I love working with customers helping them to solve their issues with their birds or with a new person or family looking for a great match for their lives. One of my favorite aspects of my job, however, is working with children, so bringing children and parrots together was a no-brainer!

Kids love parrots. They see them in cartoons and movies all the time. Children love all the bright colors that these striking animals come in. They love to watch all the crazy play that these birds get into. I think that most children think that all parrots can speak.

This past week, I shared my love and passion for these great creatures with four classes ranging from ages 3 to 6. This is a great age to start developing a love and respect for parrots.

I always start these classes with a few rules to ensure safety for the children and our birds. I tell the children that we have to use small voices while around the babies. Also, we cannot move really fast or jump around and swing our arms because that might scare the parrots and the bird might misunderstand our enthusiasm and nip us. Then we are ready to put on the “magic” petting potion (hand sanitizer) to pet and play with the parrots, and the learning begins!

I show them the different types of parrots like macawscockatoos and greys. Then we talk about feathers. I love to test these guys and see how smart they are with their colors! I am asked a few times why they don’t fly away. So I show them how we clip the parrot’s wings and I explain that it is like a haircut. We talk about their strong beaks. I tell them that we can tell a parrot from other birds by their toes. Two in front and two in the back! I have learned that using the big words like “zygodactyl” with these little tikes makes their eyes go blank. So I use those big words on the bigger kids. We talk about the parrot’s eyes as the greater Galerita cockatoo stares down at the little ones with a suspicious gaze.

Then we talk about eggs. I like to hold up an ostrich egg while standing by a macaw and ask them if they thought a big macaw came out of it. Of course they think a huge macaw came out of the large egg! I tell them sorry and hold up a much smaller macaw egg next to the ostrich one. Their “aws!” are in total shock. I have heard a few “that’s so small” comments in the past too.

After the eggs, I usually walk the children over to the birdie buffet or show bags full of different types of foods that parrots love to eat. I explain to the kids that in addition to the parrot’s normal seeds, nuts, pellets, and fresh fruits and veggies, these funny, loving creatures love to have the same healthy foods that we eat and that it is good for them! The children ask me if the birds like carrots or corn. I always say “Yes, but they love other yummy stuff too!”

I tell them that Squirt, our store mascot, loves chicken. Last week, I told the children that whenever I go to the local chicken joint I have to bring back a chicken leg for Squirt. The kids went crazy with laughter. Then, one little girl, probably about 3 or 4 years old, stuck her jean-clad leg up in the air, pulled it up to her knee and said “I have chicken legs!”  I think that I along with the teachers laughed for at least a good minute or two! I told her that Squirt would probably not like her legs even though she was as cute as a button.

After learning about these animals, we get to the hands-on experience. OK, maybe not hands-on, more like on the shoulder or the all-time favorite sitting on the head experience! Only the little guys sitting on the head like Alfie, the blue mountain lorikeet. He sat on so many heads that he eventually had to poop. Unfortunately, it was on a little girl’s head. But this trooper was totally OK with it and told all the other children in her kindergarten class “Everything poops, even you!”

When children get to learn with good hands-on experience, they develop a love and respect for these parrots that will hopefully grow into a great life-long relationship. I think I have made an impression on their lives by introducing them to these wonderful animals that just want our love.

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Kids Say The Cutest Things

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Reader Comments
Loved the article
Carrie, Norton, KS
Posted: 5/27/2010 7:22:39 PM
great pics
Tommy, Pocatello, ID
Posted: 4/7/2010 8:39:16 AM
Good for you! It's never too early to foster a love of animals, and especially to increase the understanding of parrots. These children will be the responsible pet owners of the future.
Caro, Silver Spring, MD
Posted: 4/6/2010 6:24:51 AM
Our club "Parrots in the Park" meets once a month at Lake Eola Park in downtown Orlando, FL. So, I can relate to dealing with the kids. I really love the “magic” petting potion. What a great name. Even adults marvel at the fact that birds reach 75% of full size in the first 16 weeks of life.
Charles, Orlando, FL
Posted: 4/2/2010 7:26:26 PM
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