Day In The Life: Pet Bird Store

The Morning Chorus

When we open the door to the boarders’ room at Omar’s Exotic Birds, Inc., the cacophony is deafening. Several cockatoos (a sulphur crest, two Goffin’s, and a slender-billed corella with a British accent) are fighting to see who can honk the loudest. They crane their heads to see through the cage bars. The macaws are scurrying about their cages, contributing to the early clamor.

Cyndee Crumly, a 20-year bird community veteran, hastily puts on ear plugs as Eloda Martinez pulls the cart full with food and water dishes across the tiny lane that divides bird cages. As I kneel down to put a crock dish in a cage, a lively scarlet beaks my trouser pockets several times.

Cyndee and Eloda work quickly, dispensing food to their charges, but I pause as a regal-looking grey attempts to escape his cage and onto my palm. “Just put him back,” Cyndee replies as she walks away. The boarder room is largely made up of giant parrots, but there are also two parrotlets and a toucan.

As “bird-people,” we sometimes have to go out of our way to find a reputable pet shop that carries critical bird products and has enough bird expertise. Many of us remember the first bird that touched and altered our lives, but I recall my first actual bird shop as well.

In South Portland, Maine, there was a little shop. What I remember most about it was that the proprietor usually had a bird on his arm and was quite knowledgeable about birds. He was always willing to offer a cuttlebone or a method for sneaking peas and pellets into your bird’s diet. Many of the birds I purchased from the business were hand-fed by the owner. I eventually boarded them there, knowing that my birds would not be put to a back corner with no contact.

This similar feeling of community may be found at Omar’s Exotic Birds in California ( Omar Gonzalez, who owns three Omar businesses with his wife Carolyn Gonzalez, launched his first store in 1984 after becoming unsatisfied with the state of local pet-bird stores. Omar’s now has a cult following in Southern California. It’s where Omar’s mother, Rosario, still air-pops the popcorn in “Mom’s Healthy Snack Mix.” I spent a day with the team at Omar’s new San Juan Capistrano facility to learn about running a successful pet bird business.

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