The Bird Lady says it's not so very unusual for a bird to have its own teddy bear.
"Birds have a human quality about them," she says, "and just like small children, they need to be entertained, have things to play with and be noticed."
The Bird Lady, otherwise known as Christine Davis, offers that kind of information at seminars throughout the state, as well as at $25-per-hour training, taming and behavior-modification sessions in the bird owners' homes.
In addition, Davis shows people how to "birdproof" their homes. "Birds don't understand the concept of windows or mirrors," she explains. And "some like to bite into electrical cords."
Davis, who claims she can train a pet parrot in just three hours, developed her speciality after spending five years as a trainer at the Lion Country Safari parrot show in Irvine and two years at putting birds through their paces at the Universal Studios animal show in Los Angeles.
To Davis, bird training is more than teaching the pet to conform to its owner. She wants owners to understand how their pets view their world. "People really don't expect the human quality that birds offer," she explains. "Birds are more social, personable and have a strong self-image."
Because birds appear to have definite opinions, Davis advises people who want a bird to "first see if the bird wants them."
Once a bird becomes attached to its owner, it's usually a lifelong commitment. In some instances, Davis says, birds will forsake others of their species in favor of their owners. "Birds that become buddies with a human often will not breed," she says. "They don't want another bird in their life. They want the person."
The bond sometimes becomes so strong, she says, "that I know of a couple of macaws who died soon after their owner passed away. He used to talk with the birds and have meals with them, but after a time the two macaws died. They couldn't stand the separation."
Although Davis touts birds, particularly parrots, for their intelligence and sociability, she says they have yet another desirable quality--a life span of 50 to 75 years. "Not many people outlive their parrots," she says.
Davis sometimes gets calls to recover birds that have "flown the coop," but she believes it is not very difficult to recover them. "After a couple of days or a week," she says, "birds want to come home. They want the easy life."