However, there's always one exception to every rule. Picking up the parrot food and treats for Zuni entails going to a special store (no run of the mill pet food crap for Mr. Feather Britches, oh no.): Omar's Exotic Birds.
Besides having every kind of parrot food, treat, toy, cage and other paraphernalia under the sun, Omar's has birds. Lots and lots of birds. And they are not in cages, but are out on play stands where you are encouraged to pet them and pick them up.
And right now, it's baby season...so the store is chock full of brand new baby birds and they are SO CUTE.
So, I thought I'd take you on a quick tour:
This is a Apricot Caique (pronounced KAI-eek). They come in this variety with the yellow/orange head and then there's another variety that has a black head. They are fun, bouncy (they like to hop like bunny rabbits) bundles of energy. This one was on the floor when I first got there and crawled up my pant leg begging to be picked up so I held it for a while and scratched its head (birds love that) and it kindly offered to pose for a picture.
Aren't these guys pretty? They are one of my favorites as far as coloring. You can see some baby Congo African Greys on the platform next door.
Here's a better view. They are called Queen of Bavaria conures. You can see that these are quite young and still growing into their feathers because the second one back with the seed in his beak has kind of a "nappy-headed" look to his head feathers.
And here are the African Greys close up. They are not as colorful as many of the other species, but they are widely acknowledged to be the smartest. Intelligence estimates put them in the range of 2-5 year old human children. Don't believe me? Google "Alex" and "African Grey Parrot" and learn about Dr. Irene Pepperberg's amazing experiments in language with these birds.
They were so cute! They all wanted head scratches and were FASCINATED by my camera...but since parrots do their exporing with their beaks, I really frustrated them by not letting them chew on my camera LOL!
Now we move up to the bigger guys. This is a Yellow-Crowned Amazon parrot. Amazons come in lots of different varieties including yellow-head, yellow-nape, double yellow-head, etc.
One of them was on the floor when I first came in and boy did he make a beeline for the sparkly beads on the sandals I was wearing. I scooped him onto his perch before he could try out my toes as appetizers. I would rate these guys as second in intelligence and talking ability after the Greys, but they tend to have much more raucous (and loud) personalities. Some friends of my parents own one who sits at his own place (complete with plate and utensils) at the dinner table every night and shares dinner with them.
And then there are the macaws. I always think of this species as the "UCLA Bruin" parrot, but they are actually Blue & Gold macaws.
These are Scarlet Macaws.
I had to take another picture of them because their colors are just so gorgeous.
And then there's the REALLY big guy - this Hyacinth Macaw. And yeah, that beak? It's even bigger in real life. They use it to crack open things like Brazil nuts. Right after I took this picture, this guy stretched WAYYY out and tried to take my camera. I guess he didn't think I got his best side. If you're thinking this looks like the bird for you...I should maybe tell you that they START at $15,000...y'know, if you happen to have some loose change lying around.
(Oh, and if you look really closely, you can see Ryan in a light blue shirt standing by the counter and turning his head because he didn't want to be photographed...he was busy playing his DS because Grandma bought him a new game for it)
All the birds are captive-bred (not wild caught and not from wild caught parents, etc.) and are hand-raised so they are generally sweet and very well socialized from all the traffic and handling in the store.
So, if you're ever in So Cal and want a quick, fun, free experience with these amazing birds for yourself or your kids, I recommend a trip to Omar's. He's got the location that I go to in Lake Forest and another one in Brea.
And if you're thinking about a bird for yourself or your kids (I didn't photograph them, but he has small birds like cockatiels, lovebirds and finches), then I definitely recommend a specialty place like this or going direct to a good breeder. The birds are much healthier, well fed and socialized than those at regular pet stores.