Brad Nicolli was offering Charlie, his gold macaw, for a cool $995 Sunday. That's his business: to buy and sell exotic birds.
Nicolli works for his parents, who own an exotic bird shop in Orange. But for Tim Campbell, $3,000, or even $5,000, isn't enough to part with Sundance, his prize green-wing macaw. That's how much he has been offered for the 2 1/2-year-old bird, which cost him $1,200 when it was only a few weeks old.
"These birds are great. I love them. And besides, they don't die like a dog," said Campbell of Riverside. Not that Campbell dislikes dogs. He owns three of them. But Sundance and another blue-and-gold macaw named Brandie, who was left at home, are his real joys.
"Sundance is special. He will outlive me. A dog will die in 12 years. That's what they do, they die on you," Campbell said, as Sundance's proud crimson head nudged his master's temple.
Campbell and Nicolli were among hundreds of people who turned out Sunday for the fifth annual Bird Fair at the County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa. Candy Fletcher, president of the Orange County Bird Breeders that sponsored the event, said 134 different species of pet birds were featured.
Fletcher, of Garden Grove, described herself as a proud breeder of cockatiels, which, along with macaws, were among the more popular birds on display.
But breeders were selling and trading everything from finches and parakeets to English Budgies, a type of parakeet with pudgy stomach and owl-like face.
"Most of us are backyard breeders," Fletcher said. "But we hold this fair to try and educate the public on the proper care of birds. We do it because we just care very much for birds."
Indeed, the fair provided everything from literature on proper care to low-budget grooming and feeding devices. Most, however, came to watch pretty finches and parakeets fly around the 20-foot-high rafters of the pavilion.
Others simply stood in awe of the colorful and exotic parrots and macaws. Some of the birds spoke a few words. Others shrieked and shrilled. The macaws, usually the most colorful and largest, stood erect and proud.
Warren Katz drove from Santa Monica in search of the right bird. He already owns three, but he said, he made the drive because he could not resist the opportunity to look for another.
"This is really good," Katz said. "It's like having 100 pet stores under one roof. I'm sure I'll find a little bird to buy. And even if I don't, it will have been worth the trip just to pick up supplies."
An auction also was conducted in one corner of the pavilion, where breeders and first-time owners paid a few dollars or more for small birds, many with cages. A few of the more exotic birds drew bids of several hundred dollars.
Even a few trainers showed up Sunday to give bird fanciers tips on how to tame and train their pets. Home consultations for behavior modification also were offered for owners of errant birds.