About the Real Macaw Parrot Club
The Real Macaw Club is an all species bird club that was created to educate people on the proper care of pet birds. Our club welcomes anyone who has a bird or those who simply have an interest in birds.
Each of our meetings has either a speaker well versed in avian information or an avian related video followed by a discussion.
How Did The Real Macaw Parrot Club Start?
by club member, Donna Sleight
As one of the original founders of The Real Macaw Parrot Club and officially served on the board for over 14 years, I have seen the club go through many transitions and normal growing pains, but I am proud to see that the club’s focus has stayed on its original purpose of educating people on how to properly care for their parrots.
A Little Club History: I have frequently been asked questions on how the club started, why the strange name, why this, why that, etc., so hopefully, this will shed some light on our origins.
Back in 1987, four of us “bird” friends got together to discuss the need for a bird club. Our concern stemmed from the fact that there seemed to be many different kinds of parrots for sale, but not enough knowledge available on their care. We did a general sweep of the area, and found canary clubs, but no parrot clubs. There were a few clubs throughout the state, but none nearby and nothing within a comfortable traveling distance. And so, the idea for the first parrot club in the area was born…
We all put our heads together and the first monumental hurdle was finding a suitable meeting place for the potential club. Of course, it would need to be a “free” place at first and that turned out to be a huge problem. After many phone calls, we found a church in Paramus that would take us on for a “few months.” We jumped at it because it was becoming very clear that nobody else would accommodate us.
With that established, the next thing was advertising. We called Bird Talk magazine and found out that it would cost $175 to run an announcement ad for 3 months. So, we quickly recruited 3 more friends, and all of us donated dues of $25 each, which we used to place the ad. And, in order to comply with Bird Talk’s deadline for our announcement, we had to decide on a name for the club with just one night to do it.
We tossed around a few ideas, scrambling to find something distinctive that people would remember and to make the deadline. You don’t want to hear some of the choices, but it was everything from “Bird Brains” to “Bird Butts.” We finally decided on “The Real Macaw,” and most of you young-uns reading this will have no idea why we chose that name. It was a take-off on the old TV program, The Real McCoys with Walter Brennan. Probably a bad choice, as we later had a slew of phone calls asking if they could still join a “macaw” club even though they didn’t have a macaw. Then, there were people who insisted on spelling it “McCaw.” It was all very confusing, and I imagine that it still is. But, you have to admit that nobody forgets it!
Next came officers: Annette Sherman (still with us in spirit – love you girl!) was appointed as our first president and I was elected to be our first treasurer. And then, the wait began to see how many phone calls we would receive after our ad hit the newsstands. In the meantime, we inundated the local pet stores and vet’s offices with announcement posters.
The first “official” meeting was held on Thursday, October 6, 1988, at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Paramus. To our surprise, about 30 people showed up for our first formal meeting and everyone joined on the spot. Suddenly, we had about $750 in the coffers! We immediately decided that we should use the money for cake (tongue in cheek). We were thrilled with everyone’s interest and more and more people showed up at each subsequent meeting.
At that first meeting, of course we didn’t have a speaker lined up, so the world of “round table discussions” was born. It really went quite well and our new members seemed very happy to find other “bird” people to talk to. After our allotted time at the church was up (3 months), we now had rent money and we were able to move to The Knights of Columbus Hall in River Edge. It was a great place, but after several years, our membership had grown to almost 300 individual people and parking was a bear. From there, we moved to the present-day VFW Hall in Paramus.
During our first year, and tiring of just round table discussions, we started to learn that lining up various speakers was not too difficult. We had such a good variety, including vets, animal psychics, speakers who knew a lot and speakers who didn’t! But, it was all educational and great fun.
Then we started thinking about having a newsletter. I learned how to use a computer and created our first newsletter, automatically assuming the role of editor. My husband, Mike, searched for just the right font for the cover and found one that looked like feathers.
I’ll bet some of you never noticed that, so take a good look! We still use that very same font today on the cover, as well as for the heading of this column. We didn’t have the money to have it professionally printed, so the club bought a big old bear of a printer and gave it a home in my house.
The next step was to create a distinctive and fantastic logo. One of our earliest members, Russ Holmgren’s wife Irene offered to design it for us. And that beautiful logo with all the hidden birds is still the one that we use today.
So those were a few of our earlier growing pains. We might have made some mistakes along the way, but the important thing is that we grew as a club. It’s nice to see that over the years, our club’s name, our club logo, the club font, and most importantly, our original purpose has never changed.