Bird of the Month

Meet Kramer, the Moluccan Cockatoo

This week, Kramer can be seen practicing his ‘scary face’ for Halloween, but it’s all for show. He is one of the most intelligent birds at the Bloedel Conservatory and he loves to entertain visitors!

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Kramer, the Moluccan Cockatoo, practicing his ‘scary-face’ for Halloween at the Bloedel Conservatory. Photo © V. Earle

Kramer has a large vocabulary and is not shy about letting you know it! He says things like “Hello, Good Morning”, “Kramer is a good bird” (often followed by “Kramer is a bad bird”), “What is that?”, “Peek-a-boo”, “I’m a bird”, “Let’s party”, “Surprise!”,  and “Good night”.  In total, Kramer knows approximately 40 phrases. He will ask “Up, up, up?” when he wants to go for a walk, and as you leave at closing time, you will usually be serenaded with a heartfelt “Bye-Bye”! Sometimes his language can even get as colourful as the plants at the Conservatory! Watch the spotlight video at CTV Vancouver: ‘The Last Word: Dirty Bird Talking’ – that showcases the language he likely learned while living at a University frat house.

Kramer, at only 14 years of age, had a number of different homes before he was adopted at the Bloedel Conservatory. This is an unfortunate reality for many parrots due to their long life spans. Cockatoos and mid-size parrots like African Greys can live approximately 60 years, while larger macaws can live over 80 years of age. This makes living in numerous homes a reality for many parrots as they often out live their care-givers. When Kramer first arrived at the Conservatory, he was a very scared and untrusting bird – ready to bite anybody at any time. But the staff at Bloedel knew he was special and extremely intelligent. They patiently worked with him everyday until he knew he was in a safe and loving environment. Now Kramer is a well-adjusted, friendly bird and one of the best known ‘celebrities’ under the dome.

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Kramer greeting visitors at the Bloedel Conservatory

Moluccan Cockatoos (Cacatua moluccensis), also known as Salmon-crested Cockatoos, are the largest of the white cockatoos measuring 20 inches (50 cm) in height. Females are larger than males and have light brown or burgundy eyes. Male eye colour is dark brown or black. These cockatoos weigh approximately 2 lbs (.9 kg) and have pale salmon-pink feathers with light yellow on the undersides of the wings. They use their large crest to express emotions such as excitement, fear or curiosity. Like many cockatoos, they have a white powder coating from powder down feathers that help them with preening.

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Kramer sees something interesting at the Bloedel Conservatory

Moluccans are native to Seram, Indonesia (South Moluccas aka Spice Islands). They were also once common on the Sapara, Naruku and Ambon Islands, but development has destroyed these breeding populations. They are an endangered species in the wild, listed on Appendix I of CITES since 1989. The Bloedel Conservatory works with a local non-profit organization called GreyHaven Exotic Bird Sanctuary that specializes in parrot rescue, rehabilitation and adoption. All the birds at Bloedel have either been directly donated to the Conservatory from homes that can no longer keep them or have been adopted from the GreyHaven Sanctuary.

Stop in to meet Kramer, and all of the beautiful birds, at the Bloedel Conservatory. They can’t wait to see you!

Winter hours: 10am – 5pm everyday

If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation to the care and feeding of the birds at the Bloedel Conservatory, please visit CanadaHelps.org and select #6: ‘Bloedel’s Flock’

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When the Weather Outside is Frightful …

Shimmer Surprise cultivar

Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima), Shimmer Surprise cultivar. Photo by Vicky Earle

Plan a visit to the Bloedel Conservatory!

It’s a warm and lush tropical get away to relax, recharge and reinvigorate the whole family during the holidays! Plus, the antics of all the birds are sure to bring a smile to everyone’s face. Currently there are hundreds of poinsettias – over a dozen different cultivars – on display for the festive season!

Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima), Yellow Snow cultivar.

Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima), Yellow Snow cultivar. Photo by Vicky Earle

Poinsettias are right at home at the Conservatory. While they are the most popular of all Christmas houseplants, poinsettias are actually indigenous to the tropical climates of Mexico and Central America. The Aztecs called poinsettias “Cuetlaxochitl” (from cuitlatl, for residue, and xochitl, for flower). They used the plant for its medicinal properties to control fevers and the bracts (modified leaves) were used to make a reddish dye for fabrics. Legend has it that Montezuma, the last of the Aztec kings, had poinsettias brought into what now is Mexico City by caravans because this beautiful plant could not be grown at high altitudes. Today the poinsettia is known in Mexico and Guatemala as “La Flor de la Nochebuena” (Flower of the Holy Night, or Christmas Eve). In Chile and Peru, it is called the “Crown of the Andes”.

Winter Rose Red Poinsettia

Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima), Winter Rose Red cultivar. Photo by Vicky Earle

The botanical name Euphorbia pulcherrima (meaning ‘very beautiful’) was assigned to the poinsettia by the German botanist, Wilenow, because he was dazzled by its brilliant color. The poinsettia was introduced to North America in 1825 when the United States’ first ambassador to Mexico, Joel Robert Poinsett, sent several plants back to his home in Greenville, South Carolina. William Prescott, historian and horticulturist, renamed the plant ‘Poinsettia’ in honour of Poinsett.

Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima), Monet Twilight cultivar

Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima), Monet Twilight cultivar. Photo by Vicky Earle

The poinsettia grows in the wild as a shrub or small tree, typically reaching a height of 0.6–5 metres (2–16.5 feet). Typically, the plant has dark green leaves that measure 7–16 centimetres (2.8–6.3 in) in length. The colored bracts — which are most often flaming red but can be orange, pale green, cream, pink, white, or marbled— are often mistaken for flower petals because of their groupings and colors, but they are actually leaves. The flowers of the poinsettia are unassuming and do not attract pollinators. They are grouped within small yellow structures found in the center of each leaf bunch, and are called cyathia.

Bloedel 45th Anniversary cake

Bloedel Conservatory 45th Anniversary Cake

 

Once again, we send a big thank you to all who came out on December 6th to celebrate Bloedel’s 45th Anniversary! It was a fantastic party with Hawaiian Dancers, rhythms of Soul Survivors Steel Drum Band, a Professional Face Painter, Sven and Jens the whimsical and talented Scandinavian Gnomes and of course hot chocolate and cake. The party would not have been possible without the backing and organization from the Vancouver Park Board, the support of the VanDusen Botanical Garden Association, Greyhaven Exotic Bird Sanctuary and all of the fantastic Bloedel staff and volunteers. Thank you to all. We look forward to many more years and exciting things to come!

Happy Holidays!

 

Crazy About Cockatoos!

Gidget, Citron-crested Cockatoo

Gidget, Citron-crested Cockatoo (Cacatua sulphurea citrinocristata)

Looking for a great place to go on the Easter long weekend? Come in to the warm lush tropical atmosphere of the Bloedel Conservatory and get crazy about cockatoos!

You have likely already met Malibu, the Sulphur-crested cockatoo? She as been with the Conservatory for nearly a year and has settled in beautifully. If you stop and say “Hello!”, she will likely give you a loud ‘Hello’ right back and maybe show you some of her best dance moves!

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Malibu, Sulphur-crested cockatoo (Cacatua sulphurea)

And she is now in good company with other birds in the Cockatoo family: Gidget the Citron-crested cockatoo and Kramer, the Moluccan cockatoo. Gidget also arrived with her best buddy of 15 years: Rudy, the African Grey Parrot. The Bloedel Conservatory is very fortunate to have been chosen as the new forever home for all of these incredible birds.

Citron-cockatoos are smaller than Sulphur-crested cockatoos, have a more orange-coloured crest and soft yellow patches on their cheeks and under their wings. They are a quiet species compared with all the cockatoos and are not as good at imitating human speech as some members of the parrot family. Gidget is the sweetest little cockatoo and loves to give kisses, but you have to listen very carefully!

Kramer, the Moluccan cockatoo (Cacatua moluccensis)

Kramer, the Moluccan cockatoo (Cacatua moluccensis)

Kramer, the Moluccan cockatoo, on the other hand has a large vocabulary and is not shy about letting you know it! He says things like “Hello, Good Morning”, “Peek-a-boo”, “Kramer is a good bird”, (often followed by “Kramer is a bad bird”), “What is that?”,“I’m a bird”, “Let’s party”, “Surprise!”, “Bye-bye”, and “Good night”. Sometimes his language can even get as colourful as the plants at the Conservatory! Watch the video at ‘The Last Word: Dirty Bird Talking’ on the CTV Vancouver website (scroll to page 3 once you arrive). Moluccans are the largest of the cockatoo family and are extremely intelligent. Kramer also loves peppermint tea, baseball hats, and is a very good dancer sometimes swinging upside-down from his perch and putting on a show.

Rudy, the African Grey Parrot (Psittacus erithacus erithacus)

Rudy, the African Grey Parrot (Psittacus erithacus erithacus)

Rudy arrived at the Bloedel Conservatory with Gidget. Rudy is a 16 year old African Grey Parrot and also has quite a good vocabulary. She is also the master of whistles and weird, wonderful sounds. She will say “Hello!”, “Gidget”, loves to do her cat imitation, and if you sneeze, she will politely say “Bless you!”.

African Grey Parrots are loving, playful, and bring joy and laughter into the lives of all who have the pleasure of knowing one. They are known as the “Einstein’s” of the parrot world because of their incredible talking ability. African Greys are considered to be among the most intelligent of all birds, ranking alongside dolphins and chimpanzees for their ability to associate human words with meanings, shapes and colours.

All the birds at the Bloedel Conservatory have either been directly donated to the Conservatory from homes that can no longer keep them or have been adopted from the GreyHaven Exotic Bird Sanctuary. GreyHaven is a local non-profit organization that specializes in parrot rescue, rehabilitation and adoption. They actively promote avian welfare and awareness in the community through educational seminars and presentations.

Scaffolding for roof replacement project

Scaffolding for roof replacement project

A great way to round out your visit to Bloedel is with lunch or dinner at Season’s in the Park Restaurant. It’s open all Easter long weekend and offers one of the best views Vancouver has to offer. Go to their website: http://www.vancouverdine.com/seasons-park for more information, specials and to make reservations.

Now that the Conservatory roof replacement project is well underway, Bloedel is a perfect family friendly and affordable retreat rain or shine, is wheelchair accessible and is open everyday. With lush plants and over 200 exotic colourful (and entertaining) birds, it’s a perfect destination spot in the city. Hours, prices and more info can be found on the Vancouver Parks website. Come for a visit! The birds can’t wait to meet you!

 

Big Adventure for Little Clyde

Clyde, the beautiful Eastern Rosella parrot, recently escaped through a vandalized plexiglass bubble at the Bloedel Conservatory in Queen Elizabeth Park. Fearing the worst, worried Conservatory staff and Friends of Bloedel volunteers searched day and night throughout the park. Hopes were lifted when his calls were heard and excited relief spread when he was was spotted in the antennae structure atop the dome.

But now how to get him down? Luckily, the team from Spectrum Skyworks, who were on site to repair the damaged plexiglass bubble, stepped into quick action. Their high level rope access training and specialized rope and safety equipment allowed them to perform the rescue safely. The team took tremendous care to get the little bird down from atop the 70 foot dome. Special thanks goes out to Wayne, Neil and Scott for their great work in coaxing the Eastern Rosella into a transport carrier and getting him to the ground safe and sound!

Clyde was smart to find his way into the structure. He was protected inside the metal and grated structure from the outside elements and predatory eagles, while the rising heat from the dome kept him warm through chilly nights. Clyde is no stranger to adventure: he flew into the open doors of a fire hall over 12 years ago and was taken in by Greyhaven Exotic Bird Sanctuary before coming to the Bloedel Conservatory. He has thrived in the lush tropical atmosphere inside the dome. Clyde is doing well and is expected to make a full recovery from his recent big adventure. A BIG thank you goes out to the dedication and commitment of all involved!