The Rec Center was 'for the birds'


The New York license plate in the Recreation Center parking lot that read “BYRDLUVR” best described the scene Saturday as hundreds of area residents came to admire the variety of exotic birds at the 20th annual Parrot Expo sponsored by the Long Island Parrot Society, an organization of about 500 members founded in 1985 to educate the public on the proper care of pet birds and to support conservation of parot species in the wild, according to its mission statement.

Parrot Expo featured more than 40 commercial and non-profit vendors and exhibitors.

Bird owners could find anything they wanted for the care of their pets – food, toys, cages, carriers – as well as several species of parrots and other tropical birds for purchase.

Among them was licensed bird breeder Charlie Gonder, who brought along a few of the 52 birds he has at home on Long Island, including various cockatoos – Moluccan, umbrella, rose-breasted and scarlett varieties. The sell for $1,500 to $1,600 and have a lifespan of 60 to 100 years, according to Mr. Gonder.

He has a business partner in Texas who breeds many of the birds there.

Hobbyist Angelo Christiano of Bayshore brought 50 love birds out of 200 he has at home.

The typical cycle for raising the birds begins with a 21-day incubation period for the eggs and, following the hatching, four to six weeks before the birds can eat on their own. They sell for $60 to $150.

Love birds live from 15 to 20 years and come in various colors.

Members of the advocacy group American Federation of Aviculture displayed one of  the most exotic birds,  the black palm cockatoo, so named for the black plumage that include feathers on its head that resemble palm fronds.  Only 104 exist in the U.S. and one sells for $20,000.

The event included keynote speaker Dr. Irene Pepperberg, Ph.D., a research associate and lecturer in the Psychology Department at Harvard, who is a noted expert on animal psychology and the African grey parrot.

Two representatives of Parrot Rescue Inc. presented an exhibit on the organization’s efforts to rescue birds that are abandoned or in danger. They find foster homes for parrots and other birds if the owners cannot be located.

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