I was lucky enough to meet my soulmate at the age of 17, and he happened to be a professional magician and bird trainer. You could call me his sidekick, but I was more like a fly on the wall, getting to be a part of amazing experiences that would shape me in ways I was entirely unaware of at the time.
My first Project Parrot was a 35+ year old blue fronted Amazon named Storm. He hated men, couldn't fly because of how severely obese he was and ate a hamburger-only diet. My husband, Dave, was actually at Storm's home to train an entirely different bird. Storm wasn't even on anyone's radar.
A bird as old as Storm was (and who was literally found after a storm which is how he got his name!), was labeled as "set in his ways" and "too stubborn to change". So I offered to work with Storm myself, after all, what did anyone have to lose? Except Storm, he had WEIGHT to lose...
Just 45 days later, Storm readily accepted being held by men, was down to a healthy weight and on the healthiest of diets, and could fly across the house! Everyone was floored by his transformation (myself included!) and when I documented the entire journey, I found it inspired people to look at their older birds differently. Through a new lens of seeing their potential and being willing to try. Thus, working with Project Parrots became my soul-fulfilling work.
Project Parrots were never planned - they just happened. During the filming of One Day Miracles, a video series where we went into the homes of bird owners and helped them fix their bird's behavioral problems in a single day, there was one we couldn't fix. It was Rasta, an older Alexandrine Parakeet whose owner was a 10 year old boy named Liam. This bird was so incredibly fearful, and his human was so inexperienced, it seemed like an impossible task to bridge the gap between the two. So I offered to take Rasta and work with him until he was at a point where Liam could then work with him too. I had him for a whole summer just working on diet, crate training, flying (though not to me) and a basic step up (which took the whole summer!)
It was so rewarding to send Rasta home and get the updates of progress he had with his forever humans.
I always considered myself the learner, and the birds as my teachers. Project Parrots really became a more public thing when the videos were being seen by millions... a friend of mine adopted a handicapped macaw named Morgan who had been hatched with a foot defect where her entire foot was facing the wrong way and one toe was entirely boneless! She hobbled around and was passed from home to home, to sanctuary, to home again. No one knew how to properly take care of this bird with a funky foot.
Her story connected with so many people and that's when I was convinced to make Project Parrots a larger part of my life and not just something I was doing on the side.
The day came where I somehow got talked into taking on two birds at one time - and I happened to get super sick at the worst time! My daughter, Capri, jumped at the opportunity to get involved and she completely transformed these birds during the days I was down and out. I couldn't believe it. I had brought home two unhandlable birds and when I checked again, they were hanging out with her in her room happily!
As Capri's adoration grew (as well as her desire to keep every single bird...) she blossomed into her own trainer and now runs her very own YouTube channel BirdTricks KIDS where she not only documents her own work with Project Parrots but also shares her life with our own birds, too.
Even my husband Dave took on a Project Parrot at one time!
I've always strived to do better by my personal flock of parrots, and in doing so I've been able to create some pretty amazing environments to teach Project Parrots how to truly be birds again, and grow confidence in the process. Because I've just always done this, I never thought to allow it to be supported by outside sources until I was approached with the idea that people want to help. And honestly, everyone else saw this getting much bigger than I did. When you only take on 1-2 birds at a time, you can feel like your impact is small but my eyes have been opened to how much of an impact we can truly make together.
We are all capable of so much more with help from others. It's my goal to inspire others to do what I'm doing with Project Parrots and continue to support our work so we can reach the masses with our transformational stories about these birds. Each one deserves a voice.
BirdTricks Inc is the corporate sponsor for Project Parrots Inc.
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