Parrot Portraits~

Every couple of years I visit Free Flight Exotic Bird Sanctuary in Southern California and play with the birds. Meet the Superb Parrot native to Australia. This is the only bird featured in this post that is not designated endangered or vulnerable in the wild.

Every time I visit, I leave wanting to adopt one of their birds, like this Eclectus Parrot, native to the Solomon Islands.

Free Flight was established by an avian veterinarian to rescue and rehabilitate pet parrots. They have several highly endangered Hyacinth Macaws which are the largest of the Macaw species.

Friendly and outgoing Yellow Naped Amazons live in Mexico and Central America.

Pretty in Pink Moluccan Cockatoos are native to Indonesia.

Free Flight birds live in an open aviary and interact readily with the people who come to visit them.

African Grey Parrots from the Congo are famous talkers. Despite myths to the contrary, bird brains are intelligent brains. Parrot brains in particular are similar in several important ways to primate brains.

Blue and gold macaw are native to South America.

Cheers to you from the beautiful, happy and healthy parrots, at Free Flight Exotic Bird Sanctuary~

For More on the non-profit sanctuary check out :

372 thoughts on “Parrot Portraits~

  1. David Prosser

    I envy you so much Cindy, I adore birds and these are such colourful characters. Thank you for helping look after them.
    Massive Hugs

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  3. Beautiful photos. I used to look after an African Grey for a friend. He was such a clever bird and had a huge repertoire, including a few choice swear words which he seemed to understand when to use. After he stayed with me for a few days his accent became distinctly Scottish.

  4. Lovely birds. Lovely photos. So sad that eventually, the only way we’re going to experience these animals will be in sanctuaries or documentary films.

  5. They are lively and gorgeous birds. I once knew a parrot named Pedro, who would chuckle when he heard laughter, which made us laugh even harder. He was such a character!

  6. Such stunning plumage. Wow. Thank you for spending time with those beautiful birds and sharing your experience with us, Cindy. I’m smiling big right now.

  7. Parrots are such beautiful and intelligent creatures. We had an African grey parrot when I was a kid. He could perfectly imitate my mother’s voice and would often call for one of my brothers to come inside. Your photographs are fantastic as always, Cindy!

      1. I’ve seen Mexicans swinging cages with wild birds in them, hoping to sell them to tourists at border crossings. God only knows how long it was since the birds had a drink of water. It made me sad and angry at the same time.

    1. Aren’t they incredible. Their colors can’t really be explained just for camouflage. It is like the most incredible artist of all time was being very creative!

  8. Loved the parrots! My 6-year-old granddaughter and I had a lot of fun looking at them. Her favorite was the fluffy-headed Electus parrot and the second to last gray one that looks like an owl.,

    1. You have a perceptive grand daughter! The eclectus is the parrot I keep wanting to adopt and the African Greys are just the most incredible talkers. I am so glad your grand daughter enjoyed them <3

  9. Anonymous

    I love the shots of multi-coloured parrots you’ve shared with us I only saw green parrots in our part of the world, in Bangladesh I mean. 🙂

  10. Timothy Price

    Beautiful photographs. We had an Eclectus Parrot we rescued several years ago. They are really fun birds. Ours died of kidney failure, which is apparently fairly common in Eclectus the vet said. It was probably compromised by the horrible care it got before we rescued it. We have an African Grey who’s 11 years old now and a Gold Cap Conure who is 27 years old.

      1. Timothy Price

        The birds have their own room, and the cats learn the difference be wild birds and parrots. The snake has her own room as well. I have to keep the separated as in the song.

  11. I love that they are free-flight! You named them right – parrot portraits – as they seem to be posing for you. Just lovely! Too bad you could not take one home to the Hollow.

    1. Parrots are being studied for their “sense of self in relation to the world,” so they may well have been posing. They certainly look the camera directly in the eye!

  12. Superb shots, Cindy! 🙂
    I used to, when i was younger, breed macaws, such as Blue and Golds. We now have two pet birds; both of them talk. One is a Scarlet Macaw and the other, Tweetie, is a Yellow Nape. Scarlet is as cuddly as a puppy and is very intelligent. Tweetie was with us since she was very young and talks with great comprehension. She does not just mimic. She even makes up her own questions and statements. She uses different words for the same meaning. Like (when she sees me with a bowl of food), “What do you have?” or “What do you got?” 🙂

    1. Oh, how wonderful! Gives me goosebumps. Parrot intelligence is finally getting the scientific attention it deserves. I have always known how amazing there are. I would love to see and photograph your parrots. They sound incredible!

      1. Is amazing about how intelligent they are! Way more research is needed. I think that the way Dr. Pepperberg — one of the scientific researchers of parrot intelligence — is doing it is partly wrong. I can see in her videos that her parrots are frustrated with being pushed to respond in the way that Pepperberg wants.
        If you are ever in the northern Illinois area, let us know; you can sure visit the birds! 🙂

        1. Yes. I know just what you mean. Too often I see experimental design that obviates what is attempting to be studied. I have seen this is studies with birds in labs. I have thought it with other studies too, anything that involves complex creatures (including humans) is affected by reductionist design. It is frustrating to me, to the subjects, and it impacts the results. But at least, finally, science is paying more attention to bird intelligence. They just to keep up with the birdies in terms of the complexity of their design!
          My mother’s family all hailed from Illinois. I would love to visit and will give you a holler if I do, thank you!

        1. You know what would love to do, visit all the bloggers with birds who have weighed in here, take photos and do posts on each of you. It would be so awesome and so much fun! Thank you for giving these birdies a stable home. <3

          1. They are such interesting and complex beings. Non-parrot people think we are weird, so thank you for seeing the beauty, personality, and value in these birds.

  13. I’m in love with them all!
    It seems that parrots live longer than people. Therefore, why would anyone subject a sweet bird to a semi-life, filled with caring and love? You know you will die & leave it one day. The parrots should stay in their natural habitat.
    Oh… humans are not nice to animals, by and large.

    1. Agreed. It is tragic. Lots of these birds, even when raised by loving people are shuffled about when their owners die or get sick. Many of them pull out their own feathers in misery. It is very sad. Humans are failing to alter their behavior towards, animals, the earth, and their fellow humans. There are 59,000 homeless people living on the streets of LA right now, most of them with untreated mental illness. We’ve had plenty of warning about all this, and we ignore it to our own peril.

  14. Leave it to you to capture these incredible images of the birds. I am in awe when I look at these colors and feathers, but the eyes…oh my goodness. They speak to me.
    Thank you so much, Cindy. You take me to places I’ll never see anywhere except through your lens. It’s enough for me.

    1. Awwww, people like you make blogging a joy and privilege Sheila. <3 Parrots are such intelligent creatures. Even in the wild, they are curious about us, and will go out of their way to people watch. I have loved parrots since I was a kid.

  15. Pingback: Parrot Portraits~ — (a beautiful gift from Cindy Knoke…be sure not to miss any of the gorgeous photographs) | Rethinking Life

    1. Yes. Exactly. They are highly social creatures, used to living in flocks, and they live a very long time. People put them in cages and leave them alone and they become miserable and act out. Sometimes their owners die or get sick and the birds then get shuffled around and traumatized. In a better world, they would live in the wild unmolested, and we would thrill to catch sights of them there.

  16. I adore parrots. I did bird rescue for the Rocky Mountain Society of Aviculture in Colorado for several years back in the nineties. I rehabilitated everything from lovebirds and cockatiels to cockatoos and greys, and lots of birds on the size scale in between. Then I found loving homes for the ones who weren’t too angry or traumatized to adapt to new owners. But parrots are as intelligent and hungry for attention as toddlers, and when they’re hurt, they don’t heal easily. Nor do they ever grow up. When you get a parrot, you’re basically committing to decades of feathered child-rearing. Reputable breeders won’t sell parrots without asking their new owners how the birds will be provided for in case of death or incapacitation. In fact, parrots never should have been taken into captivity. Especially in our fast-paced, mobile society, they don’t fit most people’s on-the-go lifestyles. The neglect–not tomention outright cruelty I saw as a bird rescuer–was part of why I got out of the biz. I was starting to deeply dislike my fellow human beings. In any case, I’ll always have at least one bird. Right now, because I’m busy raising a daughter, writing, and working as a freelance editor and proofreader to support my author habit, I’ve only got one parakeet named Rocket. But his cheerful chattering and chirping makes my home a happier place.

    1. I hear you. So wonderful that you did this. Thank you! I met a parrot rescuer who had an amazing facility in Anza Ca. that appears to have closed. She was in The Twin Towers during 911. She quit her job and bought a remote place near The Holler where she rescued traumatized birds, and bred endangered ones. I asked her about the history of the birds, many of them were given up by loving owners who were undergoing chemotherapy for cancer and told by their physicians to remove the birds. I didn’t expect this story. She said many owners were heartbroken. It is such a tragic business from all angles. First the birds were stolen from the wild, dramatically reducing their numbers, and then they were bred to live solitary lives as pets which is utterly unnatural. Some of the parrots at Free Flight have the plucked feathers which is such a sad sign of unresolved trauma. I hear and agree with everything you are saying. It is hard not to lose confidence in our species. We do way too much harm. But, then, there are all the good people too. People like you. Thank you.

  17. I think the saddest case I ever had was an African grey whose feathers had been plucked by a twelve-year-old boy. His mom called us to take the bird because she had “gone and turned mean.” She hated women and kids from then on, but she fell in love with my husband. We kept her till our daughter came along, and she would let my husband snuggle her and rub her head, but I couldn’t get anywhere near her without her going carnivorous. We gave her to a sanctuary because we were afraid she would hurt the baby. She never did stop plucking, though, once that boy got her started. And man, did he ever teach her to cuss! Once a parrot learns to swear, its retail value drops by half, right there on the spot.

  18. Beautiful birds. The close up capture of these photographs enable us see the delicately placed designs and patterns of their feathers which is sheer artistry, not to even mention the vibrant colours, that make these birds nothing but one of Natures grand ‘show-offs’ !
    Lovely !

  19. Cindy, as always breath-taking. I love that there is a protected environment for them. Alas, if we don’t do something to turn around climate change, all species will be gone.

    Have you been to Africa or China? They are doing amazing things in the desert. The Green Wall across the African Continent and another across China’s Gobi desert, There are many links on YouTube, here is one such video.

    1. How wonderful, and yes I have been to Africa twice, not China though. So many people are trying so hard, while so many others continue on their destructive paths. Hugs to you Lea <3

  20. Finding parrots in the wild is tricky because they are not so abundant anymore due to poaching for the pet trade and habitat destruction; also they are often high above, flying quickly by, and about the size of a rice kernel even with binoculars. So to see these close-ups is a real treat Cindy. These are some really rare birds. How wonderful to know about Free Flight Sanctuary.

    1. Ah, so happy you enjoyed these beauties, and thank you my friend. It is indeed rare to see them in the wild, and quite a thrill when you do, especially if you come upon them nesting. The destruction of their habitat and the pet trade are just shameful.

  21. Timelesslady

    I can just hear them saying, “Pretty bird, pretty bird,” and then punctuating it with one of their amazing raucous squawks.

  22. I looked at their website briefly and while it is great that they offer homes to unwanted birds, they don’t seem to include information on why these birds are becoming endangered and threatened – because they are being caught and sold in wildlife trafficking. That is a real shame that they don’t highlight what people are doing to contribute to their demise as species. I can imagine your wanting to visit to see these beautiful birds.

    1. That is a good idea. They are more focused on saving pet parrots that end up in horrible shape. I will mention your suggestion to them as I think it is a good one.

      1. Quite agree!! We truly need to protect them and all the beautiful species that are sadly facing extinction due to thoughtsless human activity creating loss of their natural habitat.
        Great post Cindy as always!❤🙂

    1. Dorinda’s kindness deeply touches my heart and so does yours in doing this for your fellow bloggers and drawing my attention to it! Sincere thank yous to you and Dorinda. I love being part of our wonderful blogging community. <3

  23. Gorgeous photos of incredible birds. Are there limits on the exotic bird trade that could prevent these birds from being sold so freely as pets – and later needing to be rescued?

    1. Yes, most countries are cooperating with the restrictions placed on exporting exotic and endangered birds. There is still illegal trading of course, and captive bird breeding in most countries. Since parrots often outlive their human hosts, this results in traumatized, orphaned adult birds who were entirely dependent and bonded with their humans, and are then shuffled around amongst people. Also some people buy domestically bred parrots with little understanding of the socialization and time required to keep highly social birds like parrots happy.

      1. Thanks so much for this info, Cindy! Kudos for posting these beautiful images and for sharing the story of this special place. How wonderful that there are people so dedicated to caring for the birds and informing people of their plight.

  24. I love all these beautiful birds. You capture their essence so perfectly. My daughter has always had an unnatural fear of any birds flying close to her so it was interesting when we were at the Butterfly Garden in Victoria BC and a parrot took a shine to me. He landed on me and even when other’s tried to coax him away, he remained with me for quite some time. My daughter watched our interaction from a distance but felt less fear because of it. I talked to this sweet bird as my son videoed the whole thing. We should let them choose us as pets, and see how we feel being out of our element. I have never been fond of birds in cages but they do need protection from human predators. Thanks for sharing this, Cindy.

    1. This comment so perfectly sums up why I so admire you Marlene. You are a deep thinker and a sensitive and empathic person. These are the qualities I most admire in people. You daughter and son both sound wonderful, which is no surprise, considering their mother. Be well my friend and thank you <3

  25. All of them are so beautiful and colorful. I enjoyed this post. I see very seldom parrots, but few years ago I saw two inside Columbus museum in Las Palmas.

    Have a good day!

  26. Cindy, I am in awe of the way you’ve captured these majestic creatures! Their feathers in your photos are magnificent! Wow. What breathtaking birds. I love each and every one of them. It saddens me how nature is being destroyed everywhere we look. Once it’s gone, you can’t get it back. We must do a better job of taking care of the beauty we were entrusted with. Blessings to you for sharing this with us all.

  27. The pictures are always very good, but I think……….. you are using these parots to get on better, no no, much better for your photographing careeer! Pour ducks, and you probably shoot them later after the great photo, I know people like you, I´ll call PETA
    love ya

  28. As always great images, Cindy we had an African grey for many years and did he talk although my friend had a Macaw and that could talk the hind legs off a donkey and some…But both had great characters 🙂

  29. bonjour ou bonsoir mon Amie et gentille CINDY

    Merci pour ta présence
    L’amitié est une source d’énergie
    Elle dégage en nous une chaleur
    Cette amitié c’est comme une
    Source , comme l’eau qui coule d’un ruisseau
    Elle nous donne de l’énergie positive et d’un besoin mutuelle
    On ne peut se passer dans la vie de
    Rire, pleurer, s’exprimer et se laisser aller
    Comme les rayons de soleil qui entourent la terre
    L’amitié c’est une force que nul ne peut ignorer
    je te souhaite un très belle semaine une belle journée ou soirée
    Et tout le meilleur dans ta demeure
    je te fais de gros bisous

  30. Outstanding, their color, soft feather coats and they are so cute. My oldest girl had two parrots once, a male named Jake, and a female named Jessie. They could be hilarious watching them, but got to be a bit of work trying to take care of them with a job, etc. but were so much fun to watch, and especially when Jake once rolled a peanut on the counter riding it like one log rolling until he got it to the edge of the counter and let it roll off as it surprised him and then flew back to his cage. They were so funny, those two. They were amazon or south American parrots I believe.

  31. I really love the birds, as I do almost all creatures.

    As for the writing, I have no special pattern. I write when I do and if I try to write in any other way, I cannot write. So I wait until I am inspired to write and then start working. It works out pretty well for me that way. Thank you for the great post and photos.

    1. Ahh, so incredibly kind of you. Every bird lover is exactly like me. And I love being able to meet similar souls. We like creatures that can fly away from us. This is a huge commonality. It is wonderful to meet you.

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