Houston & Peach

Birdland: Exotic pets display talents at two-day event

PERRY — A piano-playing cockatoo, a bicycle-riding macaw and a talking parakeet showed off their talents this weekend at the Exotic Bird Society of America’s show and sale at the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter.

Twenty-eight vendors showing and selling birds and bird-related products participated in the two-day event, which ended Sunday.

The performing birds’ trainer Larry Beatson, of Grovetown, has been working with birds for nearly 20 years after getting his first bird, a cockatiel, when he was recovering from back surgery. Now the certified avian specialist has trained hundreds of birds, and he helps rehabilitate birds with psychological and behavioral problems.

“Birds do things wrong when we have reinforced and trained them wrong,” he said.

The bicycle-riding macaw came to him so neglected that it had plucked out all the feathers on its underbelly, he said. The bird now is affectionately called Lucille Bald.

Also at the show was Janice Dossey, a bird breeder from Savannah who sold a 5-month-old hyacinth macaw for $7,500.

The blue bird, known as a “gentle giant” for its large size and calm personality, is quite rare because it hatches just one egg per year, Dossey said.

“Most people only see them at the zoo,” she said.

Charles Tillman, president of the Exotic Bird Society of America, said attendance at the show was disappointing, with only about 350 people visiting Saturday and fewer than 100 showing up Sunday.

“Everybody blames it on the economy, so I might as well blame it on that,” he said.

This was the group’s second show in Perry. Three more shows are scheduled, for May, July and November.

To contact writer Jennifer Burk, call 744-4345.