An affectionate 4-year-old umbrella cockatoo perched on Demi Lambadis’ arm, nestling against her abdomen, while her family members ran their fingers through his feathers.
“Once people started petting him, I wasn’t afraid to touch him,” said Lambadis, 16, of Lake Grove. “He lives up to his name, Romeo, because he’s like a ladies man.”
Lambadis’ family owns Pepper, a 14-month-old white-bellied caique parrot which salutes, plays dead, dances and makes ambulance siren noises.
Lambadis’ family was among the hundreds to shop for bird supplies and learn more tips on how to care for their birds at the Long Island Parrot Society’s 26th annual Parrot Expo on Saturday at the Freeport Recreation Center.
Robert Gross welcomed visitors with his umbrella cockatoo Romeo, who frequently hopped onto the shoulder of young children.
“The way you see him now is how he always is,” said Gross, 56, of Wantagh. “He’s very cuddly, you have a lot of fun with him and he gets along with other birds. He’s basically the life of the party. He laughs, barks and says ‘hello’ and ‘I love you.’ ”
Dr. Lanette Raymond, president of the Long Island Parrot Society, said the money raised through raffles and a silent auction will go toward sheltering displaced birds, conservation projects and educational workshops across Long Island.
“It’s a community outreach opportunity. A lot of people bring their birds, so you get a chance to see a lot of great birds,” said Raymond, 48, of Great Neck. “For some people, it affirms their desire to have a bird for all the right reasons and then they can turn to us for adoption.”
The expo offered lectures with advice from bird experts and a dedicated area for bird lovers to network and learn how to better take care of their birds.
Pat Rudikoff represented Oasis Sanctuary, a refuge for exotic birds in Cascabel, Ariz., while kissing and holding her 14-year-old umbrella cockatoo, Zeus, and 15-year-old Moluccan cockatoo, Ajax.
“I don’t often recommend buying these birds,” said Rudikoff, 65, of Woodbury. “They are loving, but they are a lifetime commitment. They’re like children. They suffer from anxiety and separation.”
Near the entrance of the center, vendors filled a large room selling different species of birds, bird feed, branches, informational books, toys and carrying bags.
Because Joshua Sawaya has an Amazon parrot, lovebird and white-bellied caique parrot, he couldn’t help but stop by the expo to pick up some toys for them.
“I’m a huge parrot enthusiast, so I came here to get good deals,” said Sawaya, 33, of Franklin Square. “It’s really important for your parrots to have different textures of foods and toys.”
He added that people often underestimate parrots, thinking they’re not cuddly.
“Parrots actually have personalities similar to cats and dogs,” he said. “Their love can definitely be conditional, but the challenge is definitely worth it.”
Pictured above: Jayden Easy, 6, of Freeport, holds Romeo, an umbrella cockatoo, at the Long Island Parrot Society's Parrot Expo in the Freeport Recreation Center. (Oct. 6, 2012)