September, 2003

The President's Perch
Steve Fitzsimmons, 2003 MACAW President

Hello and welcome to the September issue of the MACAW Flyer. This summer just flew by didn’t it? Where did it go? Before summer gets completely away from us, we will be having our MACAW picnic. The picnic will be on Sunday, September 14th in the picnic grounds by the Henry Vilas Zoo from about 11:30am to maybe 4pm or when the food runs out. Just look for the big birds hanging from the trees. If you plan on joining us, please bring a dish to pass. At the time of this writing, we are not planning on doing any grilling. I hope to see everyone come out and get together. Not only will this be an opportunity to meet in the outdoors for a good meal with good company, but it will be an opportunity to tour the new aviary with other members and share our knowledge with one another. This is a rare opportunity for us.

We have some great events planned for the remainder of the year that I am excited to tell you about and we also have some catching up to do. So if you are ready, let’s begin.

This summer started out with a bang with a lot of rough weather, tornado warnings and heavy storms, but it slowly became a dry summer with a lot of nice weather days. The West Nile Virus made the news in Madison on August 1st, but quickly faded because of the lack of rain. West Nile is in Madison, but thankfully not a problem as yet. Things can quickly change so it is still recommended to keep birds indoors to reduce the threat from West Nile, a virus that can be fatal to our birds. The gypsy moths returned with a vengeance and they are something to see. This is one moth nearly as big and colorful as our birds, except a little too destructive. The movie "Winged Migration" played at the Hilldale Theatre over summer. This was an inspiring film that discussed the migration patterns of many birds, including macaws. Some birds fly from the north pole all the way to the south pole every year. In the newspapers there was an article about pet store prices being wrong at many area pet stores, and alerting you to watch the prices you are charged at the register. There is more on this later in this newsletter. Then there was a story off the MSNBC website that said scientists discovered pets have emotions. That was a story we could have written many years ago ourselves. We also had some events over summer, such as the Art Fair downtown where Clarence could be found selling sculptures of owls, Fine Feathered Friends annual carnival where Sandi hung out with clowns and news station anchors and the grand opening of the new aviary at the Henry Vilas Zoo. Clearly a lot was going on this summer. I hope everyone had a great summer.

Our upcoming events are just as exciting. For starters, MACAW will hold a club picnic on Sunday, September 14th as mentioned earlier. For our October meeting, we have a rare opportunity and special guest, Mr. Jim Hubing, the Zoo Director at the Henry Vilas Zoo who will talk to members about the zoo, interesting things about the new aviary, bird ambassador opportunities and take your questions. Paula our Education Director has written more about our upcoming educational meetings later in this newsletter. Other events on the horizon include Animart’s Pet Fest on September 6th, which MACAW will be represented at. Starting on September 16th and running through the 30th Fine Feathered Friends will be holding an online auction to help raise funds for their avian rescue. Some very nice items are available for bidding at Another upcoming event for MACAW is having our own MACAW TV program on WYOU TV. Several members are already in the process of being trained to operate cameras and equipment. If you have an idea for a future show or would like to be a part of this exciting opportunity, please email me or see me at a meeting.

If you have access to the internet, our MACAW web site offers you many opportunities. You may notice that our web site has a few changes and some new features. It still gives you breaking news and it is the place where you can participate in forums. It also offers a MACAW slide show, a members mart, a place where you can read past newsletters, see upcoming events, see birds available for adoption and still much more. It is the place to learn more about what MACAW is doing, how to get involved, what opportunities exist and it is a place you can go 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to share experiences, ask questions or just hang out. Our website address is

Do you have an idea for MACAW? How would you like to become more involved in club decisions? Opportunities exist for interested members to join the board. You are also welcome to sit in on board meetings. It is your club. For the new members, please make yourselves comfortable and make a point to meet with me or another board member so we can introduce you to other members. It may be frustrating at first to know who is who, that’s where I can help you. We have a great club with many helpful members with many years of combined experience. Take advantage of the many opportunities available to you through MACAW including 10% discounts at MADCAT Pet Supplies and Animart.

Thank you.

Steve Fitzsimmons
MACAW President

In The Spotlight

One year ago, a customer who loved birds visited one of our area pet stores. This customer saw a cockatoo being housed in terrible living conditions, receiving little care, fearing for its survival. Her heart was so touched by the love she felt for this bird, that she bought him, with no concern for the cost. She took the bird home where she could assure its survival, shower it with love, and offer it a good life. That customer was Sandi Meinholz, and that cockatoo was Gilda. The experience with this one bird and pet store sent a shock wave through her like a religious calling. This led her and her husband Randy to start Fine Feathered Friends Avian Rescue and Sanctuary.

Fine Feathered Friends Avian Rescue and Sanctuary is this month’s "In The Spotlight" article. Since opening its doors to the avian community here in Madison one year ago, they have taken in 275 birds and have adopted out 193 birds. Sandi and her husband Randy run the rescue 24 hours a day with a team of big-hearted volunteers. Sandi says they cannot turn any bird away. Which is not easy to do when you continually take in more birds than you can adopt out.

This is why she is looking to expand into a larger building, so she can continue to take in and help more homeless birds. Raising the $250,000 she needs for this new building is no small task for a rescue just a year old. Add to this the veterinary bills to care for the sick or injured birds she receives, combined with the costs of just running the avian rescue, and it’s easy to see how challenging this is.

Throughout this however, she maintains incredible strength, determination and a positive spirit, from knowing that what she is doing is making a difference in so many birds’ lives. She also knows that she has no choice but to be there on the front lines, rehabilitating and rescuing these birds, and to work with the community to find new homes for them.

It is clear that the Madison area needed an avian rescue. For Fine Feathered Friends to take in close to 300 birds in the Madison area alone -- from the many large blue and gold macaws and cockatoos, to the small finches and canaries -- in just one year, is an incredible feat.

It is a sad reality that so many people who buy birds today, are poorly educated and unprepared for the responsibility of caring for such a magnificent animal for the rest of its life. So many sad stories can be heard at this rescue. Too many birds come to her after living in numerous homes in the birds’ first five years. Many of these birds can live to over 100 years. Some of these birds may be victims of abuse, neglect and poor treatment. Birds that are endangered because the rain forests are disappearing. Birds that have done nothing wrong other than to be the birds that they are. Birds are unlike dogs and cats. They are still considered wild, can live many years longer, and they can be more challenging. But they also can be more rewarding.

Unlike Sandi and Randy’s rescue, many pet stores will sell a bird to just about anyone with a credit card. Many won’t ask you the questions about your suitability as a bird caretaker, for fear of losing a sale. Sometimes the customer wants a bird for the wrong reasons, such as using it as a room decoration. Many birds that don’t live up to a customer’s expectation, end up neglected, abused or euthanized. The lucky few who make it to Fine Feathered Friends are given a second chance for a better life. Sandi and Randy make the effort to match people looking for birds with the right bird. They are not afraid to turn someone away if they feel someone is not qualified to care for the bird. Instead, they require potential adopters to fill out an application. They ask the tough questions, such as "What do you know about the needs of the bird?" or "What does your landlord, neighbor or roommate think of a bird that might scream louder than a smoke detector?". They are also there to educate, coach and assist the new adoptive parents when questions or behavior problems arise.

Fine Feathered Friends Avian Rescue and Sanctuary is a true friend to all birds most in need. They have a tough job that will only grow more demanding over time. If you would like to help this organization, please visit their web site at, and look at their upcoming online auction that runs from September 15th through the 30th, or offer them other forms of help. I am sure they would appreciate it. Happy Birthday Fine Feathered Friends, and may you have many more years of helping our avian community.

In The Spotlight is a monthly article devoted to MACAW members. The purpose is to introduce members to one another. Sandi and Randy joined MACAW about the same time Fine Feathered Friends opened, one year ago. Sandi also sits on our club’s Board of Directors and writes articles for the MACAW Flyer. If you would like more information on Fine Feathered Friends or would like to be considered for a future article, please email me at

Watch Those Prices! 
 Steve Fitzsimmons, 2003 MACAW President

 A recent article in the Wisconsin State Journal titled Pet-supply stores have high price-error rates talks about many of our area pet stores charging the wrong prices for pet supplies at the checkout counter.  Error rates as high as 16 percent with an average overcharge of $1.75 have been reported by the Division of Trade and Consumer Protection at some of our pet stores. So watch those prices and maybe save yourself some money. Area pet stores that scored better than average for accuracy include some of our better pet stores like Animart, and Mounds. MADCAT Pet Supplies, although not mentioned in the article, also would score better, since they don't use scanners there. Here is the link to the article.

Adopting a Second Home Bird 
Sandi Meinholz, MACAW Board Member

Some of the finest birds available are second- or third-hand pets. Because many parrots are long-lived and humans are, well, only human, there are frequent opportunities to acquire previously-owned parrots. Some parrots require new homes within a year either because their owners did not fill their needs for training and appropriate environment or because of their owners’ lifestyle changes.
A Dream or a Nightmare
Buying a pre-owned bird can either be a dream or a nightmare. Sometimes a bird is homeless simply because an owner could not handle the responsibility of cleaning his cage. In other cases, birds may have been behavioral disasters. You should be especially careful if you have acquired a breeding-age bird because biting behaviors can appear suddenly. Socialize these birds for the first few months with towels and hand-held perches until you get a feeling for specific breeding behaviors, when they’ll appear and what happens when they do.
The most promising candidate is a youngster that has merely been neglected, rather than abused or spoiled. This bird’s new home should seem absolutely heavenly. It’s a new beginning for your new fine-feathered friend and, often, improved behavior is generated spontaneously. (There’s a window of opportunity for reinforcing good behavior into habits similar to that in baby handfeds, but the window may be very brief.)
Home at Last
During the first days in your home, provide your bird hiding opportunities by covering part of his cage with a towel. Be nurturing, supportive and consistent. Handle your bird less if he tires easily, perhaps providing extra heat, sleep and yummy food. Don’t try step-ups from the cage unless your bird first enjoys step-ups in unfamiliar territory. Your bird should be socialized to enjoy the towel game.
Your New Bird’s Diet
A newly-adopted parrot might eat nothing but seeds. This is similar to adopting a child who eats only French fries. Begin mixing a good-quality manufactured diet with what the bird has been eating, gradually replacing seeds with balanced nutrition. Don’t supplement with vitamins unless your veterinarian prescribes something special. If your new bird has a less-than-healthy liver or kidneys, you’ll be advised to avoid vitamin supplementation — especially D3 — that could kill your bird. Ask your veterinarian for more details on this. Offering warm food is an excellent bonding experience, as sharing regurgitated food is a courtship behavior demonstrating nurturing skills to a would-be mate. A parrot responding to warm food might want to feed humans, other birds, toys or furniture.
Your New Bird's Behavior
Aggression If your bird is aggressive but can be handled, hold him as much as possible in the first days — usually in a snuggly, fluffy towel or on a hand-held perch. Repeat and reinforce any interactions that both you and your bird enjoy, preferably including step-ups. Be playful! Your bird’s enjoyment is most important here.
Excessive vocalization
Screaming is the most common reason for home changes in mid-sized and larger hook bills. Some of these birds are very young and have not developed independent play, so they are overly demanding of human attention. Do not bring an excessive, habitual screamer into an established flock. A screaming parrot introduced to other birds can easily teach screaming behaviors to the rest of the group.
Changing homes can be unsettling to a shy bird. An extremely fearful bird can be the most significant behavioral challenge in parrot rehabilitation. Cover part of the cage for a while. Situate the cage at chest level first, then raise or lower it until your bird seems most at ease. Step-ups can help a shy parrot understand what is expected and increase confidence.
Found Birds
Free-flying, non-native birds are a danger to themselves, to agriculture and to other local birds. They might have been subjected to adverse environmental conditions. They take food and nesting sites away from native species. They can be exterminated for perceived interference with farming or utility lines. While a found parrot has less talking potential, some adjust very well as human companions. So to acclimate this type of bird, begin with eye games. When the bird has calmed somewhat, take him to a small area, such as a bathroom, closet or hallway. Sit on the floor with your knees up. Put the bird on a towel on your knees and spend an hour or so reading out loud to the bird. Subsequently, spend less time reading and begin playing peek-a-boos, progressing to step-ups.
Wild-Caught Birds
Most of the last legal wild-caught parrots entered the United States in 1992. Because many of them are long-lived, wild-caught birds continue to appear for resale. For a person with great patience, these birds occasionally offer good companion potential. Tamed, wild-caught parrots have a lesser tendency to acquire speech, but they can be charming in a different, wilder way. Sometimes, the only way to identify a re-socialized wild-caught parrot is by the split USDA band placed on its leg at importation. Establish contact with the bird first by playing games with him that involve no eye contact and progress to games involving limited eye contact. Offer food from your hand, play the towel game and sleep in front of the bird before hand contact is attempted.
Aviary Birds
A bird might be so bonded to wild roles, so intent on his own instincts, that he is completely intolerant of humans. The presence of humans might stimulate life-threatening stress. Large flights of similar birds are necessary. Every effort should be made to shield these birds from human contact.

Fine Feathered Friends - Adorable Adoptables 
Sandi Meinholz, MACAW Board Member  608 274-2615

 Ollie, 9 yr old Blue & Gold Macaw
 Does not like men, was abused by a man.  Very loving and friendly with women.
Clyde, Double Yellow Head Amazon
 25 yrs old, shy
Sprite, Yellow Nape Amazon
 20 yrs old, very talkative, missing tail (will not grow back) does not like men.
14 Lovebirds
 9 babies (8 wks to 6 months old)
4 Parakeets
Young (8 mos.)

Many Cockatiels
Males & females

Senegal parrot
Very friendly & loving.
Female Goffins Cockatoo
Must go to someone that is home all day,  prefers no other birds.

Sun Conure
Male, very nice bird, can be loud.
For more information on the above birds or to get an adoption application, please visit our website at or call us at 608 274-2615.

 The Pet Network Avian Placement List
Christene Crubaugh, MACAW Editor
For more information on any of the birds listed below please send an e-mail to or call (414) 464-8808.

Available birds as of August 13, 2003
Tutu and Mango – Congo African Greys
@4 yrs old; vet checked. Experienced large bird owners only; avian veterinarian reference will be required.
Trilby - Orange-Winged Amazon
HD 3/8/03; very  friendly; growls but doesn’t mean it. Fee $700.
9 Budgies
Cage pets. Adoption Fee $10 each.
Cockatiels - 5 male and 1 female
They are all not tame or semi-tame – all of them will need work to become good pets. They are vary from 1-5 years. Various colors. Adoption Fees $40 each.
Louis Armstrong – Umbrella Cockatoo
Adult male; tame and sweet; plucked on chest, legs and back; feathers are starting to come back; large bird experience and work at home person/someone not away from home much preferred; Adoption Fee $600.
Sasha – Cherry Head Conure
@ 7 years old; plucked; no longer tame but does talk; needs lots of love & patience – has been kept in a budgie cage all her life and fed an inappropriate diet. Fee TBD.
Lizzie – Half-Moon Conure
@ 2 years old; female; was a handfed baby but has not been held in a long time; was being kept to be a breeder but her mate died; we are working on retaming her. She loves to be held in a towel and have her head petted. She will actually fall asleep while we’re petting her. Fee $150.
Two Ringneck Doves
Very tame and can be handled by children. Great children’s pets! Fee $10 each.
Butch and Sundance – Lovebirds
Butch and Sundance are Special Needs birds. They both have scissor beaks and their beaks need to be trimmed about every 4-6 weeks. You can be taught to do it or you can bring them here or to your vet.  They are cage pets – not tame.  Adoption Fee for both – $50.
Zach – Green-Wing Macaw
@ 14 years old; experienced bird owner only. Zach is used to being out of his cage most of the time. Zach is plucked on chest and legs. He talks and is used to socializing with people but not being handled by them. Very large cage necessary and lots of toys, so Zach will not be an inexpensive bird to own. Prefer owner who works out of home or only works part-time. Adoption Fee $750.
Ursa – Senegal - HD 12/28/02
Extremely tame and friendly; was released to due previous owner having surgery. Adoption Fee $500, incl. cage & accessories.

 Dane County Humane Society Corner
Sandi Meinholz, MACAW Board Member
Please contact Jane Hanson with questions about bird adoptions at 608-838-0413, extension 101.

Adoptable Adorables - As of this writing, the shelter has
1 Dove
Previously with a cockatiel, enjoys people, can step up and likes being held petted, dislikes mirrors.
3 Cockatiels   
2 Lovebirds - Romeo and Juliet
Like bathing and fresh veggies and seed and will eat pellets. They were not handled. They were partially hand fed, but the mother became distraught. They also like all types of toys, bells, chewies, and to shred paper.
13 Finches

There are more adoptable birds at
LaCrosse Avian Rescue, Rehabilitation and Adoption
608-452-2732, Email:

2003 Busy Bird Fairs
First Sunday in month
October 5, November 2, December 7


VFW Hall , 301 Cottage Grove Rd. , Madison, WI
10 am -3 pm,  $2.00 Admission
Sheila at 608-362-4696 / email

Please stop by the MACAW table and say hello to Kathy and other members staffing the table!

MACAW Picnic Update 
Steve Fitzsimmons, 2003 MACAW President

Fine Feathered Friends has donated to MACAW a lot of hot dogs, popcorn and brats for our picnic. We may be grilling afterall. Please join us Sunday, September 14th from 11:30am to whenever. Visit for an hour or all day. Thank you Fine Feathered Friends Sanctuary! 

Lessons of the Geese
Steve Fitzsimmons, MACAW President

In the fall when you see Geese heading south for the winter flying along in the "V" formation, you might be interested in knowing what science has discovered about why they fly that way.
It has been learned that as each bird flaps its wings, it creates uplift for the bird immediately following.
By flying in a "V" formation, the whole flock adds at least 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own.

Quite similar to people who are part of a team and share a common direction get where they are going quicker and easier, because they are traveling on the trust of one another and lift each other up along the way.
Whenever a Goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go through it alone and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the power of the flock.
If we have as much sense as a Goose, we will stay in formation and share information with those who are headed in the same way that we are going.
When the lead Goose gets tired, he rotates back in the wings and another Goose takes over. It pays to share leadership and take turns doing hard jobs.
The Geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep their speed. Words of support and inspiration help energize those on the front line, helping them to keep pace in spite of the day-to-day pressures and fatigue.
It is important that our honking be encouraging. Otherwise it's just - well .. honking!
Finally, when a Goose gets sick or is wounded and falls out, two Geese fall out of the formation and follow the injured one down to help and protect him. They stay with him until he is either able to fly or until he is dead, then they launch out with another formation to catch up with their group.

When one of us is down, it's up to the others to stand by us in our time of trouble. If we have the sense of a Goose, we will stand by each other when things get rough we will stay in formation with those headed where we want to go.
The next time you see a formation of Geese, remember their message that:

There are MACAW members that certainly qualify as the lead Goose within our club, there are some real good honkers too.

M.A.C.A.W. Education Calendar
Paula Fitzsimmons, MACAW Education Director

September 14th - MACAW Picnic in the picnic grounds by the Henry Vilas Zoo 11:30am to 4pm
October 12th - Mr. Jim Hubing, Zoo Director of Henry Vilas Zoo will talk about the zoo, new aviary and bird ambassador positions. 

Are there any topics you'd like to see covered, or places you'd like our group to visit? Here's some of my ideas for topics. Please contact me if you know of someone who can speak on any of the following:

*              First aid for birds
*              Behavior: What is "normal" and how to correct negative behaviors
*              Finches and softbills: The "forgotten" birds
*              How to ensure your bird is getting adequate exercise
*              Is your bird a dinosaur? A look at the evolution of birds
*              How to protect birds (companion and wild) through legislation and advocacy
*              Update on avian diseases and cutting-edge treatments
*              Proper nutrition and what's in the foods you give your birds (I'd like to schedule an avian nutritionist for this one) 
*              Planned Parenthood: What are the options for preventing unwanted bird births?
*              The similarities and differences between companion birds and their wild counterparts

 Each month the schedule is as follows:

-               Board meeting starts at 1:00. All MACAW members are welcome to attend board meetings.
-               Hospitality break is at 2:00 pm.
-               Speaker is at 2:30 pm.
-               M.A.C.A.W. meetings are held the second Sunday of the month (excluding June, July, & August).

Meeting Location:
Midvale Community Lutheran Church
4329 Tokay Blvd., Madison, WI
Rooms 221-223 (second floor)
The meeting location is accessible by the Madison Metro bus system as well as handicapped accessible.

Upcoming Community Events & Dates
Steve Fitzsimmons, 2003 MACAW President

6th -  Animart Pet Fest
6th -  TASC Bird Fair, Chicago, DuPage County   Fairgrounds
14th -  MACAW Picnic
15th -  30th - Fine Feathered Friends Online Auction
26th - TASC Avian Seminar, Chicago, for more info
27th - DCHS Animal Communicator Presentation,   Madison's Pet Psychic
5th - Busy Bird Toy Bird Fair
12th - MACAW meeting with zoo director
31st - Nov 3rd - Halloween at the Zoo
If you would like your event listed, please send a brief description and the date of your event to

Birdie Bread
From the Internet

2 boxes corn bread mix
2/3 c. milk
3 eggs
1 jr. size jar sweet potato or carrots
1/2 c. frozen peas
1/2 c. seed (optional)
1/2 c. pellets 

Mix all ingredients together. Bake in muffin tins or 13x9 cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. 

Here are some helpful tips and reminders.

1: Our two web sites are (main site), and our web site at is

2: Buying your bird supplies from MADCAT Pet Supplies or Animart helps save you money through member discounts.

3: Sandi will help you clean your bird cages (donations appreciated)!

105 Careers for Animal Lovers
Paula Fitzsimmons

If you think that jobs involving animals are limited, you will be pleased to learn of at least 105 different paths you can take. 105 Careers for Animal Lovers is a 39 page booklet listing 105 career ideas including resources and tips to help the reader zero in and help jump start that career search.

Pet Supply Retailers
7820 Mineral Point Rd
Madison, WI 53717
MACAW Members receive 10% discount on all bird supply purchases!

Feathered Fid's Bird Boarding
Jackie Hugo
Reasonable Rates

Health Exams Required
Including Blood Work

MACAW Members 10% Discount

Fine Feathered Friends Sanctuary, Inc.
Sandi Meinholz

We will bird sit for you in your home or ours.

We are a 501©3 non-profit exotic bird rescue and will care for your bird/birds in your home or ours. All proceeds go directly back to the birds in the sanctuary. For more information please call (608)274-2615 or Email:
         Web Site:

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