One of the most recognizable names among ?bird people,? Sally Blanchard is well known for her theories on companion parrot behavior. She has studied and worked with birds for over 40 years. Having been a bird sculptor for over twenty years, Sally is an avid bird watcher. Instead of just checking birds off of a life list as she saw new species, she became fascinated with what they did and most of all, trying to figure out why they did it. She started a lifelong collection of bird books, which now numbers over 2,500. Over 35 years ago, Sally met a fellow wood carver who was also a bird breeder with a wonderful collection of raucous Amazons. The combination of bird sitting the Amazons and a bird watching expedition to Costa Rica, kindled a passionate interest in parrots. Sally is a true pioneer in the understanding of companion parrot behavior and the parrot/human bond.
Although there is no academic degree in ?companion parrot behavior,? through the years Sally has taken college level courses in animal behavior, anatomy, biology, field ecology, zoology, sociology, ornithology, psychology, anthropology, creative writing, childhood development, and teaching. All have played a part in her thought process about parrots. In college, Sally taught a human anatomy laboratory course. With a B.A. in art, continuing studies towards a Masters degree, and a teaching credential, Sally taught high school art for a few years before turning to sculpture for her living. (Click for Sally's sculptures) Gradually she became more and more interested in parrots. When injury from an automobile accident and a resulting pinched nerve forced an end to her successful career as a bird sculptor, she transitioned into a full-time career working with parrots.
When she purchased her first parrot, a wild-caught Double-yellow head Amazon Parrot, Sally could not believe how little information there was about their proper care in captivity. The breeder had sold Payaso because he was an "extra male" in their new aviary. Payaso was never a happy bird and, as a novice, Sally was not sure how to make a difference in the bird's life. Eventually it was discovered that Payaso was actually a hen ("He" laid an egg), and the breeders were delighted to take her back as a partial payment for their first baby, Paco. She was named by the breeders as a male but was also a hen. (She is now over 34 years old. Sally's now defunct gallery "The Laughing Parrot" was named after Paco because the Amazon loves to laugh!)
As a former teacher, it seemed natural for Sally to learn as much as she could about parrots to pass on to other parrot owners. She soon started taming wild caught parrots for both pet shops and individual caregivers, which led to hundreds of in-home consultations. Knowing that experience is the best teacher, Sally has, at one time or another, worked in most aspects related to parrots. She has volunteered in wildlife rehab, worked in a bird shop, worked with parrots in an aviary, hand-fed chicks, and had her own parrot-related product distribution business. Working with virtually hundreds of parrots and talking to thousands of parrot owners over three decades has been her best classroom for companion parrot behavioral work.
After moving back to California in 1985, Sally continued her in-home and telephone consultations, taught a monthly parrot care and behavior seminar at the San Francisco SPCA for over six years, and started doing lectures throughout the United States. The first of her many innovative parrot behavior articles was published in Bird Talk in 1988 and Sally wrote Bird Talk's Parrot Psychology column for over ten years from 1991 to 2001. She now writes the "Nature versus Nurture" column in Bird Talk. These early articles were the first to emphasis non-aggressive taming of wild-caught parrots, the importance of early socialization for domestically raised parrot chicks, and the use of verbal commands and cues such as "UP" and "DOWN" in maintaining a parrot?s pet potential. Her groundbreaking ideas about eating and foraging as a social behavior, transition weaning and the development of independence from hand-feeding, the differences between imprinting and social bonding, behavioral dysfunction as a result of poor socialization and weaning trauma, winning trust through energy calming and the empathic response of companion parrots, and developing the companion potential of parrots all evolved into her highly respected theory of ?Nurturing Guidance.?
Convinced there was a need for in-depth information about companion parrot behavior and care, Sally Blanchard started her own publication in 1991. Since then the Pet Bird Report, Companion Parrot Quarterly and now the Companion Parrot Online Magazine), with its accurate, innovative, and entertaining articles has steadily grown in reputation. Although producing the Companion Parrot Online Magazine takes the majority of Sally's time, she is working on several books about specific parrot species and parrot behavior. She also continues to present seminars throughout the United States and Europe, and has been invited to speak at all of the major North American avicultural conventions.