Ken Globus

The Bird Whisperer




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The Life Magazine of Granite Bay

the original article can be viewed at:


LA man helps with bird problems 
Date Published: November 2005

 by Miki Garcia

ďHe doesnít love you like you love him.Ē Shocked with the ice pick of these words, I bumbled, ďWhaÖWhat?Ē I was pathetically begging for more time to process the pain that hurt more than the physical abuse that I had sustained. Episodes of a cut by my eye; a puncture on my lower lip; a wound on my arm; a finger mummified in white all flashed in my head as a film noir.  

And now after many years, Ken Globus, The Bird Whisperer, was telling me straight away that my Moluccan Cockatoo, Shodo, bit me for the unvarnished reason that he was incapable of loving me Ė at least not in the sense that I did for him. This was a tough pill for me to swallow.  

Oh, I guess I havenít told you yet that it was my ex-husband who purchased Shodo for me as a birthday gift. Shodo had been born on my birthday, February 17th. How romantic is that? Well, the marriage did not survive, but my avian did who is now 13 years young.

 My ex gets the last laugh. Shodo is like a child who will never mature past a four year old mentality, and who I am responsible for long after I kick. And this bird just might make it to 80! He may be a gorgeous cockatoo, but Iím no spring chicken.

 I was so lucky to have Ken, who lives in Southern California and travels extensively giving bird taming seminars, talk to me on the phone at length. He was helping to translate the behavior of my feathered pet. With his words, the picture was beginning to take shape. Shodo is not like my Shitzu, or my furry felines who lavish in my affection. Shodo is special. He is a bird that has flown to the top perch of our relationship and enjoys the view while I scramble for the next bottle of antiseptic.

 Miki Garcia: How did you discover the secrets of taming birds?

 Ken Globus: My practical experience came during the 1980s when working at my parentís pet store called Jobil Exotic Fish and Birds in Ingelwood, California. That was the era that wild birds were brought in from quarantine. I discovered that simply handling birds was the best way to gain their trust - even if the initial contact was stressful. I remember three wild-caught umbrella cockatoos. I took one out to groom it which required a lot of work to subdue him. After putting the bird back in his cage, I went back to servicing customers. Afterwards, I found the two birds that I had not groomed were acting frantic and still flopping all over, but the bird that I had already handled was calm and sitting on his perch. 

 MG: Why is my bird so aggressive?

 KG: Some birds purely want to dominate. Conventional bird behaviorists say that there is no dominance in the wild, but I disagree. In many homes, the bird with socialization issues becomes the strongest and ironically lives with great fear and more stress.

 In my workshops, participants bring me their most aggressive, frightened birds. Women comprise 90% of the audience. Often I hear, ďI am owned by my bird.Ē They donít say, ďI own my birdĒ. Sometimes, women will go so far to say that they would choose the bird rather than their husbands. And women in my experience are more likely to seek help for their birds and remain passionately committed to helping them.

 Bird taming is similar to helping people overcome phobias. People avoid doing all the things that make birds uncomfortable. I do just the opposite. Iím unlike other trainers who under estimate the intelligence of these beautiful creatures. I tackle the birdís fear of humans head-on. If they wonít step up onto my hand, I take them protesting from their cages. If they try to leap away, I gently grab a leg and donít let go.   

The direct approach is kinder. If left untreated, some of these difficult birds can spend weeks, months, even years living in their cages in fear of their owners.

MG: Why are birds afraid?

KG: A birdís natural instincts often do not integrate comfortably in domestic situations. Owners concentrate on loving instead of understanding the dynamics of bird handling.

I work with birdsí fear and I work with humansí fear. There are 3 parts of the fear equation: the birdís instinctive fear, our fear of the bird and our fear of harming the bird. Conventional wisdom is that owners should be passive. But over time if the birdís is not socialized properly, the fears dominate the relationship. When a bird is afraid, his fundamental instinct is flight or bite. An owner must deal with it.

I can teach a bird to willingly come out of its cage in a short time.

MG: Please suffer me. Iím a slow learner. Letís get back to the painful biting.

 KG: Birds bite for many reasons. It could be a surge of hormones; a noise; a shadow. It is fear instincts that keep them alive in the wild. This is fundamental. After a bird bites and an owner responds in the wrong way, the bird becomes more dominate and cocky. I demonstrate to owners how to keep in control and not make the birdís aggressive behavior pay off. Conceptually, birds are always trying to avoid tenseness. Therefore, in my training techniques, I use pressure on and pressure off to guide the bird to a proper place of calmness.

 MG: Which species are the smartest?

 KG: Perhaps, the Amazons and African Greys. Dr. Irene Maxine Pepperberg studies the cognitive and communicative abilities of grey parrots. She has shown that birds have abilities similar to nonhuman primates and young children. Alex, her African Grey, can use English labels to identify, request, refuse, and categorize more than 50 objects, seven colors, five shapes, and quantities to six. He has verbal use of many phrases and understands many concepts.

 MG: Do you have pet birds?

 KG: Iím like the cobbler whose family has no shoes. I work with birds daily and really donít want to bring work home. Although, Shelby, my ten year old loves to call herself The Baby Bird Whisperer. She talked me into adopting a Senegal that was in a rescue home. Shelby has positive energy when she works with him and it really shows. I donít know if she will follow in my footsteps or not, but at this time she wants to be an actress.

 MG: Speaking of Hollywood, I understand that you have been featured on Inside Edition and have worked with Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshawís Panama Amazon called Blanche. Iíve read some of your media write-ups and they liken you to a miracle worker.  Who in your opinion should not buy birds?

 KG: Lots of people. Those that want something pretty in their house or a beautiful bird to show off like artwork are poor candidates for ownership. Birds can live 60 to 80 years and that is a major consideration when a person takes on the responsibility. Sometimes a teenager talks his parents into purchasing a parrot and then in a few years the teen is off to college. It is now up to his parents to take on a life-time commitment. A bird should never be an impulse buy. Almost 100 % of birds that are in rescue homes would not be there if owners had taken the time to learn about the care and handling of birds.

 I do what I do to help people understand their pets and to make their relationships with them wonderful. Iím making a documentary of my seminars that will appeal to non bird owners as well.

 MG: Have you got an example of a unique situation with a bird?

 KG: A woman that was a stripper came to one of my seminars because her bird had suddenly started to hate her. I learned that she had recently dyed her blond hair black. Once she went back to blond, her bird was back to being a loving, feathered friend.

 MG: Ken, are you sure that Shodo doesnít love me? Hello? Please Ken, are you there? Hellooooooo?