The Freeport Recreation Center was brimming with all things parrot last Saturday. For the past 31 years, Freeport has been the home of the Long Island Parrot Society’s annual Parrot Expo. Current and prospective parrot owners spend a day learning about the tropical birds each year.
The parrot society focused this year’s expo on understanding the health and wellness needs of parrots. Keynote speaker Jason Crean discussed avian nutrition, including teas for birds. Afterwards, Dr. Laurie Hess, a veterinarian, took part in a question-and-answer forum.
Anne DePietri, the society’s president, said the expo educates people about what owning a parrot entails. Too often, DePietri said, families adopt parrots and eventually have to give them away or put them up for adoption again. That’s when LIPS gets involved helping to find suitable homes for the birds.
“Owning a parrot isn’t easy. It’s like a child, and requires a lot of attention,” DePietri said. “Some people don’t understand what they’re getting into when they initially adopt a bird, and it can get tiresome.”
Sisters Elizabeth and Marian Brennan, of Baldwin, are owners of three conures, small orange-yellow parrots from South America, and four newborn conure chicks. They checked out the various parrot vendors at the expo. Excited to show pictures of their conure chicks, Elizabeth said it was Marian who started parrot fever in their home.
“I wanted to treat myself for my birthday, so I bought Pineapple,” one of the adult conures,” Marian said beaming.
“They’re sweet birds,” Elizabeth added.
This was the Brennans’ first time at the expo, and they were overwhelmed by the number of resources and amount of information available to them. Elizabeth, however, was most excited to connect with other parrot owners and talk about how to care for the chicks.
On Long Island, DePietri said, there are hundreds, possibly thousands of exotic parrots owned by families who need the support and education to provide proper care. The expo is the group’s largest annual effort to raise moeny for its parrot education programs and rescue efforts. The goal is to raise enough to open a facility to provide services to the community.
“We don’t have a set facility, and do a lot of our work out of our own homes,” DiePietri said. “There aren’t any facilities on Long Island that can support the type of care that these parrots need. That’s why we need our own place.”