Joshua Dodgins, 11, of Medford, smiles as two sun conure parrots fight to take his dollar Sunday during “The Pirate's Parrot Show” at the Jackson County Fair on Sunday. Chris Biro, who emceed the show, says it serves dual purposes. “It helps educate people and, at the same time, entertains them.”

Parrots delight on fair's final day

Children beamed and squealed as bright yellow, orange and green parrots fluttered around The Expo Sunday, snatching dollar bills from outstretched arms and perching on unsuspecting heads.

"I love parrots," Brittanny Pohlman said. "I think it's amazing that they come get the money."

The Pirate's Parrot Show was a hit for those visiting the summer fair on its last day. Dressed in pirate's costumes, the owners of the parrots paraded back and forth on the stage as various parrots flew into the audience or circled around The Expo, squawking overhead.

A sailing ship in the background enhanced the pirate's theme.

Pohlman, an 18-year-old from Central Point, has her own parrot, Alejandro, which she said enjoys shopping with her at the mall.

"My parrot snuggles on my shoulders and says, 'I love you,' " she said.

When she held up a bill, a sun conure snagged it in its beak, flew to a glass jar and attempted to drop it inside, but the wind picked up and the money flew away.

Pohlman retrieved it, holding it up for the bird again. "I get a redo," she cried, excitedly. "You didn't get it in the bowl."

Two-year-old Lanaya Tripp was transfixed as a sun conure nested on her head for a few minutes. She barely moved a muscle, hoping the bird would stay on her head.

"She absolutely loves birds," said her mother, Savannah Britton, a 21-year-old from Central Point. "I might have to get her a bird."

Chris Biro, who dresses in pirate garb and emcees the show, released 30 parrots, from giant hyacinth macaws and cockatoos to the little conures that darted from hand to hand and head to head. Some birds carefully folded the bills, making it easier to drop them in the jar.

Biro explained to the audience that sun conures are an endangered species, and he is working on a program to raise baby conures for release into the wild. Even though they are becoming rarer in South America, the conures are a popular bird raised domestically.

Biro said he has been training birds for 22 years, becoming intrigued after he helped teach a parrot to stop biting.

His assistant, Susan Hilliard, has been working with parrots for eight years at their aviary on Whidbey Island, Wash.

Hilliard and Biro have trained their birds to fly back to them. They've even taken them to Moab, Utah, where they soar high above the mesas.

Parrots perched on Hilliard's head and shoulders, contentedly snuggling against her hair. "I'm mama," she said.

Melissa Graham, a 32-year-old White City mother, said her daughter, 8-year-old Meleah, loves parrots and was surprised how gentle they were.

Graham said the parrot show was the highlight of the day for her.

"It helps educate people and, at the same time, entertains them," she said.

Redonna Holtzworth is a 39-year-old mother who brought two of her boys to the Expo. "They liked the rides," she said.

But Holtzworth was charmed by the friendly birds that added a tropical air to the fair. "It's definitely the most unique thing I've seen in a while," she said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or email

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