Avian Expert Articles

Newsworthy Bird Stories

Four Puerto Rican parrots, days before their release into the wild population. Photo credit: Caribbean Ecological Services Office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)

The next time you have some downtime, pull up a perch or T-stand, settle in with your feathered friend and do a Google news search with the key words “parrot” or “bird.” You might be treated to some fascinating and downright entertaining bird stories — perfect topics to read aloud to your pet bird!

In this sampling of bird news from around the globe, see what an African grey parrot ordered off Amazon.com using Alexa, why parrots in the wild eat clay and how the dedicated staff at the Caribbean Ecological Services Office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) helped 250 endangered Puerto Rican Amazon parrots ride out Hurricane Irma.

Endangered Puerto Rican Amazons Ride Out Hurricane Irma

By the time Hurricane Irma began barreling toward Puerto Rico, the island was in full storm preparation mode to protect its citizens. Likewise, Edwin Muniz and Tom White of the Caribbean Ecological Services Office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) were busy making preparations for some very important psittacines — the island’s population of endangered Puerto Rican Amazons — all 230 of them! You and your bird will no doubt appreciate this tender story of dedicated stewards ensuring that their feathered friends rode out the storm without losing a feather. 

African Grey Orders Gift Boxes

Image: Henry Nicholls / SWNS.com

Surely this is a scenario many of our birds dream of … taking charge of the household shopping. A woman in southeast London couldn’t figure out how an order for gift boxes arrived at her home. Turns out her African parrot, Buddy, managed to fool Amazon’s Alexa by imitating his owner’s voice and ordered a fancy gift box set. If you see your birds giving each other celebratory “foot pumps,” it might be them paying homage to Buddy’s ability to outsmart his humans.

And not to be outdone, here’s a story of a budgie who knows how to activate Siri on his owner’s iPhone. Proof that little birds are not little brained

Why Do Wild Parrots Eat Clay?

Macaws, blue-and-gold macaw, blue & gold, scarlet macaw
Macaws and Amazon parrots share a clay lick at the Tambopata National Reserve, Peru. (Photo by Brian Ralphs)

If you’re like me, you’ve caught your bird chewing on items that don’t fall anywhere near or on the food spectrum — my recent experience has been my shower curtain and the cardboard sleeve on my coffee-to-go cup. Of course, that type of chomping is more of a way to explore textures than to satisfy taste buds — parrots do like to explore with their beaks just for fun. Before you go thinking that the parrots on the cliff in the photo to the right are simply playing around, know that researchers theorize that these parrots are chewing on the clay cliffs to benefit their health.

A recent article on NPR.org tells how biologist Donald Brightsmith of Texas A&M University and his team of researchers have been studying a group of parrots in southeastern Peru that frequent a clay lick cliff near the Tambopato River. Brightsmith and fellow researchers have set out to answer the question as to why parrots eat clay — does it function as a natural “detox” cleanse for them, or does it play an important role in supplementing their diet? See what the researchers have concluded. 



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