Heckled By ParrotsBlue Sky WritingFalconryRebecca K. O'Connor

Examining, Surviving and Loving life with Parrots

Friday’s Favorite Feathers

Red-crowned Parakeet

If you like this image as much as I do, be sure to click through and give the photog some love.

Want to attend a training workshop with Rebecca??

Morris Basketball Low ResRebecca offers four- hour parrot training workshops in her studio in Grand Terrace, CA and throughout the country. These workshops are a fantastic way to get one-on-one instruction from Rebecca in an affordable and intensive setting. All workshops include a Powerpoint presentation, video clips, handouts and training demos with parrots. They are also catered to attendee’s training concerns and challenges.


Training Basics: Beginning and Refresher Course
Learn the basics of using applied behavior analysis (or refresh your memory) to shape your parrot’s parrots behaviors.
Saturday, February 22, 2013
10 AM- 3PM  (Lunch Included)
22545 Barton Rd.,  Ste. 201
Grand Terrace, CA 92313-524
Cost: $59


The Next Step: Training for Daily Living
After a quick refresher on training basics, jump into learning how to train behaviors which will help with cleaning, bathing, grooming, vet visits and encouraging good behavior. Bring your own challenges and have them addressed in class.
Saturday, March 29, 2014
10 AM- 3PM  (Lunch Included)
22545 Barton Rd.,  Ste. 201
Grand Terrace, CA 92313-5244
Cost: $59


Training Plans for Managing Bad Behavior
After a quick refresher on training basics, jump into learning to work on aggression, screaming, feather plucking and other problem behaviors.
Saturday, April 19
10 AM- 3PM  (Lunch Included)
22545 Barton Rd.,  Ste. 201
Grand Terrace, CA 92313-5244
Cost: $59

For More information contact Rebecca at rebecca@blueskywriting.com

SPACE IS LIMITED TO TEN ATTENDEES.  SIGN UP EARLY!! (Cancellation is non-refundable, but IS transferable to another workshop date.)
NOTE: The studio requires climbing a flight of stairs in order to get to the entrance. Unfortunately, it is not wheelchair accessible. 

Choose Your Workshop Date


Friday’s Favorite Feathers


If you like this image as much as I do, be sure to click through and give the photog some love.

Mondays with Morris: Meet Morris, A Foster African Grey Parrot and Star of Project Parrot Positive

IMGP6337When I decided to start a training/boarding program, I knew from the inception of the idea that wanted to take in a foster bird. My space is limited, as well as my time, but I firmly believe no one truly has a successful business without giving back. I would make the space and I would make the time.

So I was absolutely thrilled when I approached Caitec about sponsoring a bird by supplying their products and he agreed. I knew that Caitec was focused on innovations that would help parrots lead fuller lives and I was especially interested in their line of foraging products. We both agreed that our joint efforts could be best served by trying to help a parrot that could benefit from foraging, an enriching environment, training for better living, and a healthy diet.

My next step was to find my project bird. I approached PEAC hoping they might have a bird needing foster care that also could benefit from what we had to offer. PEAC jumped at the opportunity and serendipitously had a parrot that was ready to be welcomed into Project Parrot Positive, Morris the African grey.

Morris is 39 years-old and spent most of his life with a single owner, who had to move into assisted living. Unfortunately, assisted living situations do not allow for pets. I imagine this was an incredibly difficult situation for Morris’ person to be in. I know that this person tried to re-home Morris in advance of the situation, but Morris didn’t adjust well. He exhibited feather destructive tendencies; he plucked. So the Morris’ owner took him back. Ultimately, when the move was imminent, there was no choice. And once again, Morris worried his feathers.

Plucking is an awful lot like a person biting their finger nails. Once you get in the habit it gets worse and worse. Even if you stop, it only takes a small relapse to get right back to the habit. Sometimes the reason for the habit is medical. Sometimes it’s stress. Sometimes it’s boredom. Sometimes it’s dietary. Sometimes, it’s anyone’s guess why a person or an animal twirls their hair, bites their nails, plucks their feathers or self mutilates.

I don’t blame anyone for this situation, which I think is an important point. Life happens and life is not always fair. There are an amazing number of birds in re-homing situations that have landed there through no fault of their behavior or ability to be an excellent pet. There are so many people who have had to find a landing place for their birds even though they truly wanted to keep them.  We can’t assume any of this is ever so black and white.

Morris is not entirely naked, but his chest and neck are trimmed back closely. He has some down coming in, but the gorgeous old man is a pretty bare. The majority of his feathers are over-preened by a busy beak. It’s hard to see such a distinguished old man in disarray. He should be at the prime of his life. I hope I can help.

There is no guarantee that we can get him to stop exhibiting feather destructive behavior, but here are the steps we are taking and that I suggest:

  • Consult a vet.
  • Medicate if necessary.
  • Adjust diet if necessary.
  • Train parrot to interact with environment.
  • Reward parrot for interactive behaviors.
  • Create a foraging environment.
  • Change strategies as you have more information and as you go.



Morris arrived in December. He has been to a vet and is currently on Haldol, which is meant to eliminate anxiety and keep him calm enough not to pluck. Before he came to me, he was put on a more nutritious diet and encouraged to play with toys. Currently, he is being weaned off of Haldol, being trained to interact with his environment and learning to forage for food. Also, I already adore him.

I’m going to share the process, from the arrival of his cage, food and extras from Caitec to his ultimate placement in his new family. (Although I already know that placing him is going to break my heart as much as it makes someone else happy.)  I hope you will follow along, glean some information that is helpful to you through my experience as well as my mistakes. I hope that you will fall in love too. Because, trust me. Morris is one cool dude.

Friday’s Favorite Feathers

Are you my mommy?

An unusual and adorable pairing!!!

 If you love this image as much as I do, be sure to click through and give the photog some love!!

Friday’s Favorite Feathers



If you love this photo as much as I do, be sure to click through and give the photog some love!!

Friday’s Favorite Feathers

Parrot Wild Ride

I love this because of the photog’s  (Ingrid Taylar) story.

“Aratinga erythrogenys – This parrot is slightly out of focus. But it was my only capture of him sliding down the streetlight pole. He did this repeatedly but I only caught the last pass with the camera.”

Be sure to click through and give Taylar some love for this great capture!!

Friday’s Favorite Feathers


If you love this pic as much as I do, be sure to click through and give the photog some love!!

Friday’s Favorite Feathers



If you love this photo as much as I do, be sure to click through and give the photog some love!!

Birds and Words

FrontCover copy

I frequently get asked about how to break into publishing about parrots. This is not an easy question to answer, but I try to when I can.

I get it. My favorite writing is on the things I am most passionate about, and one of those things is birds. I’m incredibly fortunate to have been able to weasel my way into writing for magazines and publishers on parrots. It seems amazing to look back and to realize that I have been doing this for over ten years. I am very proud of A Parrot for Life and hope that The Perfectly Trained Parrot has an equally warm reception from the bird crowd. I love writing books and articles that help people.

So how did I do it? I wrote. I wrote a lot! The one thing that editors need more than writers is writers with good ideas for articles. I started the old fashioned way by pitching article ideas to smaller magazines. Starting with local bird clubs is a perfect beginning. These days having a well-read and enjoyable blog can also get you great clips. Blogging is a wonderful way to evolve as a writer as you discover what your audience responds to as well.

As you pitch to magazines with a larger circulation you will need not only great ideas, but examples of your previous writing to send. My first parrot article was written for the African Parrot Society fifteen years ago. The article was, of course, about Ty. From there, I pitched Bird Times and ended up writing a column for a little while. These clips led to me pitching and landing a contract for A Parrot for Life. (Of course, I had five years of experience training birds professionally at the time to back me up.)

Building a writing resume and getting into print takes time. You have to keep pitching, let rejections go and pitch again. When you land an assignment, produce writing that makes an editor’s life easier. You have to make a point of meeting deadlines and work hard to be a dream writer. All those stories about how difficult writer can be are true and you do NOT want to be one of those writers.

You also need to work hard to be an excellent editor. Always edit your work at least three times. One of those times, try reading your work out loud. Ty is an excellent listener for when I read my work to myself. Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to get any feedback from the parrot. So finding friends to check your work for you is also helpful. There is also great software to help your efforts. Check out Grammarly. I recently was offered a free trial and fell in love with the interface. It has been an immensely helpful addition to my editing arsenal. There is a much more extensive article on editing on my writing blog here.

If you want to write on the side (or full time) about parrots, pets, or anything, you have to be a professional. Take your writing seriously. Get it done. Make it as good as you can. And always sit down and write again.

…I’m already pondering my next parrot book. And I’m looking forward to a year of posts on Heckled by Parrots. Be sure to stick around!!