Madeleine Franco, founder of Premium Pine Cones, Ltd. and designer of the Natty Newfeather'sTM product line, is a professional, award-winning business writer and a work-from-home "bird mom" to a mixed--non-breeding but highly interactive and platonic--pet flock. Her 500 square-foot aviary of approximately 30 pet birds is a place where a Derbyan parakeet is housed with an Amazon parrot of the same sex, a conure preens a cockatoo nearly twice his size, a hawk-headed parrot visits with a red-tailed black cockatoo, and the buddy system is alive and remarkably well.
Ever since the age of four, when her mother used to tell her that the way to catch a robin was to pour salt on its tail, Madeleine has had an interest in and respect for birds. Her first pet bird, many years ago, was a rather handsome English budgie named P.T. From 1985 to 1989, as the mother of two young boys, she held a U.S. Fish and Wildlife permit for the rehabilitation of migratory waterfowl. Following a trip to Australia, she became hooked on hookbills.
Owners of cockatiels, cockatoos, African greys, macaws and other species of pet parrots often visit "Natty Newfeather" because, sadly, their birds have begun to pull out, barber or snap their own feathers. Such feather destructive behaviors, often referred to collectively as feather plucking, are relatively common problems. Notwithstanding, they can also be some of the most difficult behavioral problems to solve and may, if not checked, lead to life-threatening mutilation.
Almost without exception, birds that engage in feather destructive behavior have undergone one form of stress or another. Assuming no abnormal pathology, the "secret" to normalizing these birds is to identify the stressors, eliminate or minimize those stressors, and then try to break the birds' often deep-seated feather-destructive habits. The more emotional and sensitive a bird is, the more susceptible it can be to plucking its own feathers and the more ingrained its habit may be. African grey parrots and cockatoos are over-represented among feather-destructive pet birds because, perhaps more than any other psittacines, they seem to fit the sensitivity profile.
Madeleine is the founding president of the Southern Nevada Parrot Education, Rescue & Rehoming Society (www.snperrs.org). Her interest in providing products specifically designed for pluckers and birds that just wanna have fun is the outgrowth of her many years of rehabilitation and rehoming of pet parrots. She has been an American Federation of Aviculture featured speaker and makes presentations available to bird clubs, rehoming groups and other organizations. Additionally, a number of her pet parrots, known as The Parrot TroupersTM, visit schools, hospitals and community groups as avian good-will and educational ambassadors. Speaker and guest appearance fees are donated to SNPERRS. To schedule a presentation or a landing of The Parrot TroupersTM, contact Madeleine at 801-560-8209.