Ken Globus

The Bird Whisperer




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Posted on Tue, Jan. 13, 2004 story:PUB_DESC


Do you have a cockatoo that bites? Or an irate parrot? Then Ken Globus - sometimes called "The Bird Whisperer" - may be the man to see.

Globus' claim to fame is turning feathered finger biters into nuzzling Tweety Pies. Because many bird owners have problems with aggressive and fearful birds, the Tallahassee-based Tristate Avian Society is spending about $1,000 to bring Globus here from Los Angeles this weekend for several workshops on how to tame birds.

If you're into conventional bird training, however, know that Globus' methods are a bit controversial. Rather than wait patiently and let the bird move at its own pace - the accepted approach - Globus confronts the bird head-on and quickly takes charge.

"I wouldn't have a business if all that other stuff worked," Globus, 57, said during a recent phone interview.

Because of his confrontational training methods, he added, "There are actually people who have an organized effort to discredit me, which I think is sad. I think there's room for several different approaches."

Globus, who said he learned his techniques from the birds he worked with in his parents' L.A. pet store, also violates conventional-training wisdom by wearing gloves when handling birds that bite.

"He goes right in there and, I think, tires the bird out until it says, 'I give up,'" said Barry Laster, 52, a long-time bird lover and Tristate society member. "This man takes his licks."

At his workshops, Globus works with birds he has never seen before, brought to him by owners needing help. He said he has about a 95-percent success rate in taming them.

"I work with birds who have never been held or even touched," said Globus, who has a pet parrot and cat at home. "I have plenty of scars."

During his training sessions, he will often induce the bird to bite him in order to teach the animal that biting will not get it what it wants. Yet, getting chomped by a big bird can be hazardous even when wearing gloves. Globus said he currently has a black fingernail as the result of a particularly nasty bite.

The reason so many birds bite their owners, Globus said, is because biting is a hard-wired behavior.

"Birds are fear-driven animals. They're prey animals, so their success has been based on the fact that they respond to things that make them nervous by either fleeing or turning and biting."

In a cage, or on a perch, with its wings clipped, a bird is unable to flee. Its only option is to bite.

Globus' long experience with birds has taught him that cockatoos in particular cause their owners the most problems. So much so, he said, that he does not recommend them as pets.

Melinda Proctor, who recently adopted a homeless cockatoo whose owner died, now knows that only too well. She's taking Dominique to one of Globus' workshops because he bites and screams for an hour unless he gets lots of attention.

"My neighbors say 'It sounds like you're killing children over there,'" Proctor said.

Even when Dominique gets lots of attention, it has to be exactly the way he wants it - or else.

"He won't bite only if you give him your full attention and look at him the whole time. As soon as you turn away, he'll bite you."

And how bad is Dominique's bite?

"You don't get stitches, but it hurts for three days, and it bleeds."

Most people, Globus said, would be more happy with a parakeet or cockatiel than the more demanding cockatoo.

Parakeets, said Laster (who has about 80 birds, 26 of which are parrots), can live 20 years as opposed to parrots, which can live 80 years. Parakeets are the second most talkative bird - just behind parrots, Laster said.

Yet despite what some people may think, Laster and Proctor agreed, all birds require regular attention and loving care.

"People go to the pet store and they think, 'This is a cute little bird,' and then they get it home and it's the loudest thing and the messiest thing imaginable and people lose interest," said Proctor. "It just kills my soul."

"You don't have to take it out for a walk," said Laster, "but if you don't interact with a bird on a daily basis, it will become unmanageable."

here's a link to the original article online:

Tallahassee Democrat Article