Chattanooga: Armory goes to the birds

Chattanooga: Armory goes to the birds

May 10th, 2009 by Laura Galbraith in News

Staff Photo by Gillian Bolsover-- Charles Welch holds a bird during the Southeast Tennessee Agriculture Society Bird Fair today at the National Guard Armory.

Staff Photo by Gillian Bolsover-- Charles Welch holds a...

The stern military orders and yelling that usually goes on at the Tennessee National Guard Armory was replaced by chirps, tweets and squawks on Saturday as the Southeast Tennessee Aviculture Society's spring show, fair and lecture series arrived in Chattanooga.

"The main object of this event is to raise awareness about parrots as pets," said Matt Lea, the legislative liaison for the society. "It's also an opportunity for people who have pet birds to come and buy seeds at discounted prices, cages, supplies (and) toys."

Even those without pet birds came out in celebration of Chattanooga Parrot Day.

"Our club has normally hosted an event in Cleveland, Tenn.," Mr. Lea said. "This is the first time we've had it in Chattanooga. We wanted to bring more awareness to our area because there's not really a lot that goes on in Chattanooga for bird owners."

The event featured several lectures for parrot owners who wanted to learn more about their colorful pets.

Guest speakers like Darde Long, the executive director of the Chattanooga Zoo, and Dr. Tony Ashley, a veterinarian at the zoo and Animal Clinic East, talked about the different types of parrots out there and how one should properly care for them.

Owners of all ages also showed off their pet birds in hopes of winning ribbons and trophies in the event's bird show, which was judged by Cecil Gunby of the North American Parrot Society and the National Finch and Soft Bill Society.

For many attendees, however, the event provided a chance to shop for new, feathery family members.

Harvey Arnott, a resident of Nashville, left the event with "Ricky," a pink and white Malaccan cockatoo.

According to Mr. Arnott, Ricky is an import bird who was caught and brought into the country.

"When you take a bird like this that has been caught and captured, he may never get to the point where he's very cuddly, but that's OK," he said. "With people like us, we're just going to make sure he has a decent place to live."

Mr. Arnott and his family have another Malaccan cockatoo at their home, as well as a Golfin cockatoo and an Umbrella cockatoo.

"They need to be in cages about 4 feet by 4 feet so they can open and flap their wings, but they can get a very large vocabulary," Mr. Arnott said. "And once they're trained, they become comfortable with you. They get to the age of about a 2-and-a-half-year-old (person), so they're smart, they're intelligent."

Having driven over 100 miles to attend the event, Mr. Arnott said the journey was well worth it.

"This is great. The people have been great, very friendly, and I think it has turned out real well," he said. "The prices they offer at these things for (items) like toys and food and things like that are usually about half of what you would pay for at stores."

The aviculture fair will continue until 4 p.m. today and will include additional lectures on how to maintain and keep parrots.