Think about those two words - `Lifelong Education’. It’s a common phrase in the teaching world and one that I desperately would love to see more and more companion parrot owners adopt as somewhat of a mantra. Potentially, they are two of the most important words for anyone who cares for a parrot in captivity to be consciously aware of. It’s a mindset that, regardless of our perceived level of experience or expertise, sets one up with an openness to view each day, each engagement with a parrot, each meeting with another parrot owner, each magazine article, workshop experience or bird watching encounter as an opportunity to further the understanding we have about parrot behaviour, enrichment, and how to better achieve our goals and fulfil our responsibilities as a parrot owner. I know from personal experience how important it has been to keep the continuum of learning flowing over the past 15 years and to constantly challenge myself to re-evaluate whether my knowledge base is progressing or stagnating. I know what you’re probably thinking - `Yeah Jim, you’re trying to guilt us all into going to your workshop right?’. Well, maybe – can’t say it’s a bad idea actually :-) But you know, the real point here is to try and motivate anyone who reads this to make a commitment that some time in the next few days, week or month you will follow through on at least one experience that you know will keep your learning continuum moving forward as a parrot owner. How? Here’s just a few options that I think will get you moving, motivated and hopefully reinvigorated to learn more about that feathered zygodactyl living in your home or backyard...
*Subscribe to a parrot magazine or journal – I never fail to find something that piques my interest or kick starts a new enrichment idea whilst I’m flicking through the latest issue of a good old bird magazine. Check out...
*Read a Blog other than Jim’s! – There are some really neat Blogs out there that that can be educational, inspiring and just plain good for a laff! Whenever I start taking myself too seriously I like to make a good `cup of joe’ and prepare myself to lose the next hour or so checking out some of these gems...
*Attend a Parrot Workshop – I can’t be unbiased here so really, there is probably no better education experience than actually immersing yourself in a veritable `psittafest’ of fun learning about parrots than what you will experience via a workshop presented by experienced and qualified parrot trainers and educators. Check out...
*Can’t get to a workshop? – Let the workshop be delivered to your inbox! Just a few times a year, the genius of Dr. Susan Friedman and her talented team of teachers open up a `Living & Learning with Parrots’ class. This is absolutely the most significant learning opportunity available out there if you want to really understand behaviour. It should probably be considered a prerequisite to actually owning a bird in captivity. The waiting list is long but I can guarantee that if you commit to the course it will be a life changer for many of you. Register at http://www.behaviorworks.org/
*Join a Bird Club or Society. It’s mighty daunting to turn up to a Bird Club or Parrot Society meeting on your own and not knowing anyone – I know, I did it myself one night as a geeky 21 year old owner of a single pet Conure. I swear I was the youngest there by about 30 years but you know, I’ve met people through being a member of an organization like the Parrot Society of Australia that will probably forget more in their lifetime about breeding and keeping birds than I’ll probably learn. It’s worth the effort and can open up the door to some great new friendships and networking opportunities. If you’re feeling like your local Club isn’t heading in the `right’ direction – get in there, get involved, be respectful, stay out of the politics, and most importantly be the change you want to see happen. The Internet has replaced the traditional `Club’ as the key meeting point for parrot enthusiasts these days and whilst the `Net’ is home to some great communities and can be an invaluable reference source, in many ways it’s a shame seeing the decline in Club or Society patronage. Perhaps it’s time to bust out of the `alias’ laden cyber world. Sure, `Featherduster69’ kinda seems to know just about everything there is to know about parrots after having bought `Polly' last week and caught that Nat Geo special on Budgerigar survival in the outback, but I would love to see us get back to really meeting like-minded people, face to face, and building `human’ relationships that keep us inspired to further our `parrot’ relationships.
*Last (but certainly not least) – Go Parrot Watching!!! Get off the internet, grab a set of binoculars, don your best khaki, multi-pocketed clothing, put on a funny looking saggy brimmed towelling hat and get out there amongst it all to see what these guys really do with their lives in the wild. Actually spending time in the field, watching and listening to parrots is probably the best myth busting, generalisation killer and downright enlightening experience you can get. There has been no greater teacher for me than my time observing parrots in the wild. Don’t live in a country with parrots? Time to start planning an eco-tour and make it your goal to give back in one of the most effective ways that we can all contribute to parrot conservation.
Go on... do it!