Bird lovers of all ages flocked to Parrot Palooza 2009, held Oct. 16 to 18, 2009 at Bird Paradise (www.birdparadie.biz) in Burlington, N.J. The 6th annual free event drew about 3,000 attendees to the store and featured educational seminars, a bird toy making contest, raffles and face painting — not to mention a number of colorful birds and parrots.
Bird Paradise owners Jack and Kathy Lance said the main purpose of the event is to provide bird lovers with information on how to properly care for their pet birds.
“The more education we offer the customers, the more people can learn to enjoy them,” Jack Lance said.
During the event, attendees were able to play with many of the store’s birds and parrots, such as blue-and-gold and Hyacinth macaws and yellow-naped Amazons.
Educational seminars on bird keeping were held twice daily on Saturday and Sunday. Speakers included Sally Blanchard, Dr. Irene Pepperberg and Lara Joseph.
Kathy Lance said the speakers aimed to educate bird owners on bird behavior and how to provide for these intelligent, but wild creatures. For example, she said it’s important to recognize that birds do not naturally know how to interact with humans. As such, it’s the owner’s job to socialize their pet bird.
“Unlike dogs and cats, after you’ve built that relationship, that trust, there has to be constant socialization to prevent the bird from reverting back to their wild instincts,” she said.
In addition to socialization, other topics covered in the seminars included avian nutrition, enrichment, toys, and housing.
“In essence, we want to educate the owners, because there are no bad birds. There are bad bird owners,” Kathy Lance said.
Learning to become a better bird owner was one of the main reasons why Gabriele Kennedy traveled from Connecticut to attend Parrot Palooza. She came with about 50 members from the Connecticut Parrot Society.
“It’s a field trip for us,” said Kennedy, who has two African greys, two Senegals and three lovebirds. “The behavioral speakers help us manage our birds at home.”
Other attendees visited Parrot Palooza for a day of quality family fun.
Karen Souder of Langhorne, Pa., brought her three young children and their friends to the event.
“It’s fun for the kids,” she said. “They have such a great time checking everything out, making toys and, of course, seeing the birds.”
The bird toy making contest was indeed a favorite among many of the young bird enthusiasts in attendance. The contest invited attendees to create one-of-a-kind bird toys using materials supplied by Bird Paradise. Bob McClernan of Bird Toy Creations in Clementon, N.J., Bird Paradise’s main bird toy supplier, was on hand to oversee the contest. First, second and third place winners took home Bird Paradise gift certificates.
Ten-year-old Jeffrey Nacca of Rochelle Park, N.J., was not so much worried about winning as he was interested in creating a toy for his cockatiel, Tweety.
“I like birds, because they’re so fun to play with,” Nacca said while stringing together blue and orange wooden pieces.
It was the sales that prompted Elsa Vitols from Northampton, Mass., to attend Parrot Palooza for the first time. Nearly all merchandise in the 20,000-square-foot store was discounted 20 percent during the event.
“If we had come in our van, we would have been in trouble,” said Vitols, who own six parrots ranging from conures to macaws.
Yet for others, like Tom and Cheryl Klein of Clayton, N.J., Parrot Palooza offered them a chance to catch up with members of the avian community.
“It’s like old friends weekend,” said Cheryl, who serves as co-leader of the Gloucester County 4-H club, Feathered Friends.
Overall, the Lances considered Parrot Palooza 2009 a soaring success.
“It’s the largest avian event in the United States,” Jack Lance said. “There’s nothing bigger than this.”