Day Trips: Meet the Parrots

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by Stephen Johnson

Smiths Falls Ontario is about as far away from the Amazon Rain Forest as one could imagine. So you can understand my surprise when I found out there is a parrot training and adoption centre located near the town.

Parrot Partner is the vision of Judy Tennant. “My specialization is behavior science, and when I retired, I knew I wanted to work with animals,” said Tennant. “I did research and found there was a real need with exotic birds, particularly parrots. People take parrots, who are essentially wild animals as pets, but do not understand the staggering amount of work that goes along with it. They are a very smart animal and can live up to fifty plus years. As a result many are relinquished for a variety of reasons. At Parrot Partner, we take in parrots, shape and train good companion behaviors, and eventually find them their best possible new home.”

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Parrot Partner is open for the public visits on Saturdays and Sundays. With our son, David, being a nature lover, we decided to pay a visit. Located in the sprawling Gallipeau Centre, just outside of Smiths Falls, Parrot Partner can at first be difficult to find.   We followed the sounds of squawking parrots and met Judy. She told us some interesting facts about parrots and prepared us before we took a tour.   I was impressed with how she explained the proper way to handle parrots to David.

When we entered the main bird area, there was a cacophony of sound; Judy had warned us about that. The parrots were excited to see us, and making noise was their way of communicating it. Visitors are allowed to feed the parrots but only if they display good behavior. The parrots soon quieted down and were rewarded with David giving them a piece of grape from a feeding skewer. Judy provided us with a lot of interesting information about the different types of parrots and potential threats to their survival.

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I particularly liked the cockatoos with their cheeky disposition. David loved the macaws with their spectacular colors and impressive size. Judy gave David a chance to feed a number of birds and he even gave one a mist shower while it was perched on his arm.

It was obvious Judy had a real passion for the parrots, and hopefully, it will rub off on visitors to the centre.

Parrot Partner is currently in the process of trying to find a new home closer to Ottawa. Ideally, the organization would like a larger space where a rainforest-type environment could be set up, giving the birds a home more similar to their natural habitat.

For more information about Parrot Partner, visit www.parrotpartner.com.

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