Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Shout Out To Mr. Rogers

Major shout out this week to Fred Rogers, who passed on ten years ago. Better known to the world as Mr. Rogers, Fred provided friendship, wisdom, and a fatherly presence to millions of kids on his long-lived PBS show, "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood." Here is Fred's goodbye to the world, recorded shortly before he passed on. I hope you find it as moving as I do.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Foster Parrot's Karen Windsor on the Plight of Pet Parrots

In this video, created by the Providence Journal, Karen Windsor, Executive Director of Foster Parrots, speaks about the sad situation created by "parrot mills"-- which breed thousands of animals each year for commercial reasons, creating a chronic problem of homelessness for birds left behind by their owners. Karen speaks with authority: her organization runs a Rhode Island-based sanctuary where such "discarded" birds can find refuge and hopefully be paired with responsible human owners. 

The suffering of pet birds has been exacerbated by the real estate meltdown and foreclosure crisis; in a recent press release, Foster Parrots announced that it had taken in a cockatoo abandoned by its owners in a foreclosed home.   

Monday, February 25, 2013

New Song: The Man in the Box

As you may know, I spent some time last year providing music for Occupy Wall Street. performing and documenting the music that was being played at Zuccotti Park. Today, Zuccotti is silent, but the myths of what happened there have a life of their own, and I enjoy committing what I saw in song. To wit, a new song is called "The Man In The Box," and tells -- in very short fashion -- the story of David Everitt-Carlson, a street artist who arrived early at the encampment, made a stand, and endured the long dismal months that followed. You can learn more about David's project, which is called ITOMB ("I Think Outside My Box" on his blog, which is here:
The Man in the Box by Stephen Carl Baldwin

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Some Good News From South Africa About the Cape Parrot

There's been so much sad news from South Africa recently that I wanted to post a heartening story concerning the Cape Parrot, a severely endangered species that's been reduced to fewer than 1,000 individuals in the wild due to habitat loss. Below is a video from the site of National Geographic; it shows the first footage of a Cape Parrot feeding in a high tree canopy. What makes this footage inspiring is that the Cape Parrot is South Africa's National Parrot, and the Yellowwood tree the bird is feeding on is SA's national tree. Let's hope this augers well for the future of the bird.

The entire article is available on NatGeo's site.

Conservationists have been making headway preserving the species, which is further endangered by an outbreak of Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease. You can support the effort yourself by visiting the Cape Parrot Project on Facebook and The National Geographic's Youtube Channel to familiarize yourself with the issues. Donations may be made to The World Parrot Trust.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Wild Parrots Delay California Road Construction Project

According to The Gazettes Newspaper of Long Beach, California, a recent road repaving project in Belmont Shore was dealt an unexpected hurdle when a flock of wild parrots was discovered nesting in one of the Red Iron Bark trees slated for removal to fix the road (apparently the tree roots were causing bumps in the old roadway).  The imbroglio began when local resident   Carol Kane objected to the tree removal, noting that "the parrots work as greeters" during the daytime and referencing the fact that the street in question (Lois Lane) was almost renamed "Parrot Lane" years ago. Apparently the Audubon Society has been consulted and many hope the tree can be saved.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

St. Louis Today: Volunteers Foster Homeless, Abused Caged Birds

I don't know what it is about St. Louis, but some of the kindest hearted people in America seem to live there, and I was impressed when, several years ago, I gave a talk about parrots at a St. Louis bird fair and met some of the people doing good work with animals -- both wild and captive -- in that city.

Here is a very good article from St Louis highlighting the work of Star St. Louis Avian Rescue Inc. This group specializes in providing therapy -- both physical and psychological -- for parrots who deserve a better life after long years of companion service to humans. Bringing an abused bird back from the is hard work, but is so rewarding when the poor animal begins to respond normally again. This article presents several instances of such happy events.

Stars is a worthy effort that reinforces the idea that it is always better to adopt a bird than to buy one. You may view Stars' web site here:

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Could Wild Parrots Take Over New York City?

Myiopsitta Monachas -- the world's Urban Parrot.
A new science fiction novel written by Sean Ferrell called "The Man in the Empty Suit" imagines a world of 2071 in which people have largely abandoned New York City, leaving its buildings vacant for wild parrots to inhabit.

I haven't read the book; only a book review on the Web site of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, so I cannot comment on the research used by the author to substantiate his claim that wild parrots could credibly  inhabit so much real estate in so little time.

Still, I have almost no doubt that there would be no more likely candidate to inhabit New York's canyons of stone than the Monk Parakeets (AKA Quaker Parrots) we see every day in Brooklyn. These birds are industrious, tenacious, and hard to evict under any circumstances. While I do not wish to ever see a day when Manhattan is empty of people, the prospect of parrots inheriting the place leaves me feeling more amused than terrified.