Tuesday, March 10, 2020


I don't know about you, but currently in my bird  room, I am seeing the beginnings of the bi-annual molting of some very beautiful parrot feathers.  It's a race - if I see a feather that has just floated to the bottom of the cage, I grab it up and put it in one of the many bouquets I have around the house.  (I know, interior designers would cringe at my feathered wall decor here, there, well, anywhere there is a space to place a handful of feathers!)   And then there are the feathers that land in the unenviable location that pretty much puts a bullseye on them...marked for poop. I grab those out, as well and give them a good, gentle wash and rinse, air dry, and into an established grouping they go!  If they're scraggly, chewed on, or have too much additional "material," into the trash they go.  

Over the years, I've tried a variety of things to diminish what turns into this three-dimensional wallpaper.  When we have visitors with children, there is always curiosity about the birds which then requires a tour of the bird room or outside to the flights on warm days; a quick educational journey to instill a spark of respect and possibly love and passion of these feathered beasties.  And then, who knows? possibly future, responsible parrot stewardship.   We can only hope.  After the tour, if young eyes haven't already spotted a feather on the ground or in the cage, I send everyone home with at least one feather to remind them of their encounter.  

Another option I have used is saving sets of feathers and then selling them on eBay.  I notice now that bird owners sell them on Pinterest, too.  There is  definitely a market for them, and sometimes the prices asked are fairly high, depending on  the  rarity of the birds' feathers, the colors, the size, symmetry, amount, etc. When I have been successful with this, I have chosen a parrot rescue and donated the proceeds. It's pretty much a win-win: I don't have as many feathers (as least temporarily until that next molt comes around); the feathers are used for some gifted person's crafts, or Native Americans create incredible ceremonial decorations...and the rescue has some much needed extra funding.  (This is an awesome activity for bird groups for their own fund raisers, as well.)  

One of the most rewarding paths, I believe, that we can do, regarding "recycling" our flocks' discards, is collecting those feathers and sending them directly to Native Americans for their celebrations, traditions established hundreds, if not thousands of years ago.    And if you are in the same feathered boat that I'm in, and feel really guilty at even the thought of throwing away something as beautiful as a Scarlet Macaw's 22" tail feather or an incredible multi-colored wing feather from your Amazon or Grey,  or whatever species you share space with, then you might possibly consider this option. The tribes need and so appreciate these donations, and you are making a difference for the Native Americans, as well as parrots in the wild.  

Here are links to a well-established organization, started by Steven James, Feathers for Native Americans, that collects donated parrot feathers, with information about how to donate, how feathers are used, what feathers will never be used, and your impact on the Central and South American parrot population by providing molted feathers.  Feathers for Native Americans is also involved with  saving the Blue Throated Macaws, a cause championed by the late Laney Rickman. 

Better to be used and appreciated like this than gather dust on my walls, as beautiful as they are.  And heck, I know I can create my "home decor" anytime, as long as my birds keep sharing their gorgeous bounty.  Think about it!