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Feathered Friends show writer the light on bird ownership

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My Views

By Alex Wimsatt

 Just as birds of a feather flock together so do bird lovers I recently found during the Kentuckiana Feathered Friends Bird Fair at Paroquet Springs Conference Center in Shepherdsville. 

The event, hosted by Kentuckiana Feathered Friends, a local non-profit organization dedicated to avian education, protection, preservation and research, provided the perfect opportunity for Bullitt Countians like me to learn about birds.

For example, did you know that large-breed birds like Macaw parrots can live for more than a hundred years?

It’s true.

After talking with Indiana bird-lovers Stacy and Dale Rosso, I discovered that some birds can outlive their owners. 

I also learned that there is a 100-plus-year-old blue and gold Macaw parrot in the United Kingdom that is believed to have belonged to Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who led Britain during World War II. 

The Rossos, who were selling bird toys during the fair, have nearly 30 pet birds at their northern Indiana home, most of which were given to them by people who could no longer care for them. 

Stacy Rosso said she and her husband have always been bird lovers, adding that they have kept birds as pets for more than 30 years. 

When I asked him what it was about birds that fascinated him and his wife so, Dale Rosso said it was their personalities. 

If you think birds don’t have personalities think again.

Charlie, the Macaw thought to have belonged to Churchill, was reported to be “foul-mouthed” according to a story from the BBC and Dale Rosso said Charlie hated fascists and hated Nazis.

Stacy Rosso said large birds like Macaws possess the intelligence of your average five-year-old child, adding that they develop distinct personality traits.

“Each bird has its own personality,” said Dale Rosso. “Some are sociable, some are standoffish, some are more playful than others, but they all have personalities.”

Stacy Rosso said birds are pretty playful by and large and she advised that anyone interested in having a bird as a pet read up on them before committing. 

“They’re definitely not like dogs or cats,” she said. 

After speaking with the Rossos I ran into Mount Washington bird lover Vicki Martin.

Martin, who has had pet birds for 20 years, said she went to the fair to find a cage for the Umbrella Cockatoo she recently purchased from the Parrot Pad in Mount Washington.

While Martin said keeping birds can get expensive when you consider toys, cages and care, she wouldn’t want to be without her feathered friends. 

Like the Rossos, Martin was also drawn to birds for their personalities and intelligence. 

She told me a funny story about one of her Cockatoos that would only eat green pellets and another Cockatoo that would only eat red pellets. 

Martin also told me an amusing story about how one of her parrots would play dead when she would point her finger and say “bang.” Another parrot she had heard her say to her boyfriend, “damn it, Jim!” and from then on the bird would not stop repeating the phrase. 

“Birds have minds of their own,” she said laughing.

Before leaving the bird fair I spoke with Kentuckiana Feathered Friends president Teresa Whitlow, who explained the purpose of the event. 

Kentuckiana Feathered Friends contributes to various charities, including initiatives aimed at researching and rescuing birds. 

The money raised during the annual fair goes to fund such causes. 

“It feels nice to do something for birds because they’re often forgotten,” Whitlow said.

About 15 vendors selling everything from bird feed and toys to birds themselves attended the event, which has been held throughout Kentuckiana for several years.

This marks the first year the bird fair was in Shepherdsville and I hope it returns so more Bullitt Countians can see and hear how awesome these creatures are. 

I’m glad I had the pleasure to attend such a fun event and hey, maybe I’ll get a bird of my own someday.