Grand Valley Magazine Spring 2015 - (Page 32)

O F F T HE PAT H FOR THE BIRD Engineering dean is 'no boring Ph.D.' by Dottie Barnes | photos by Bernadine Carey Tucker During a scary movie the Plotkowskis hear: Reca: Maniacal laugh Greyson: Shrill scream Tootsie: Chuckle or make "The Grudge" sound Manny, Goffin's Cockatoo, 3 "Hi Babe," or "Good Morning" are some of the ways Paul Plotkowski is greeted - by his pet birds. In the 1967 song, "Talk to the Animals," Dr. Dolittle said imagine it - talking to the animals would mean he would be "no boring M.D." Well, Plotkowski is no boring Ph.D. He and his wife, Doreen, talk to and care for 11 pet birds, four dogs and seven cats. The birds are the only ones that talk back, in English. "If properly socialized, birds interact with each other and with their owners," said Paul, dean of the Seymour and Esther Padnos College of Engineering and Computing. "They cuddle, play and talk back. They talk to each other and develop vocabularies." Paul and Doreen call their birds by name: Izzy (Green Cheek Conure); Louie (Cockatiel); Stella, Reca and Greyson (African Greys); Rosa, Casper and Manny (Goffin's Cockatoos); Tootsie (Amazon) and Pepper (Macaw). Most of these parrots were rescued by the Plotkowskis and brought back to good health. Greyson, Congo African Grey, 10 32 Spring '15 Stella, Congo African Grey, 2 The couple also own Tillie, a Mini Toucan that they keep at their store. In 2012, they purchased Casa La Parrot in Wyoming, Michigan. The store has about 100 birds for sale, representing 20 different species, from finches to macaws. They also sell bird food, toys and cages, and offer grooming and boarding. Their interest in birds began 12 years ago when their daughter, Jessica, wanted a pet bird. "We had all kinds of animals up to that point - hamsters and guinea pigs - and then Jessica asked for a bird. Doreen did some research and we bought Izzy at a local bird fair. We all fell in love with her," said Paul. Doreen began to study birds and the nature of conures. "We quickly found out conures love to direct and be the flock leader," said Doreen. "Izzy is a huge bird in a little body." Their fascination with birds grew and, within a year of purchasing Izzy, the Plowkowskis turned the lower level of their home into a place to breed birds and make bird toys. "We found out that birds entertain themselves by destroying toys, literally," said Paul. "Doreen started making bird toys using consumable items like paper, cardboard, rope and wood. Before we purchased Casa La Parrot, Doreen provided the store with toys for sale and that's how our relationship started with the owners." The business has become a family affair. Paul designed, renovated and expanded the store, and Jessica,'13, now works there. When the family first considered buying Casa La Parrot, Paul said they sought help from the regional Small

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Grand Valley Magazine Spring 2015

Campus News
Donor Impact
Behind the gallery
Beer boom
Reenactment takes center stage in classroom
Global GV
Focal Point
Q&A Harmon, DesArmo
Off the Path
Alumni News

Grand Valley Magazine Spring 2015