“Chats” with Lisa Brandmeier – owner of Inca’s Secret

When we went to a local fundraising event, I got the privilege to meet an outgoing woman, who had  such an outgoing personality!  From the moment that I met her, she put me at ease, and we got right down to brass tacks.  In new situations, believe it or not, I can be that person that will sit in the corner and observe, until I get comfortable, then watch out because I hop right into the spotlight.

However Lisa of Inca’s Secret pulled me out of that observation phase, and we started chatting almost immediately.  I appreciated her kindness, and knowing that I was a little nervous meeting so many new people in the aviculture world.

I got the chance to meet quite a few people that day, and I knew that I had made some great colleagues in this aviculture world.  When I got  a chance to talk to Lisa a little more thoroughly , she told  me she had a “different” kind of business. I of course asked “what does different mean?”.   Now when I say that she does taxes and boards birds, you are probably thinking exactly what I was thinking “huh”?  Yes, that’s right, she has a boarding facility in the same office she does taxes, oh and did I mention she has an amazing selection of toys which she sells too.  That’s right ladies and gents, you can go in with your bird, get it groomed on a weekend (when John from Bird Feather is scheduled to groom) sit relax, get your taxes done, and purchase some toys or treats for your feathered companion.  Now that’s what I call a one stop shop.

So I asked her if she would participate in the latest “chats” segment, and she agreed without hesitation!

1. What kind of animals did you have growing up?

Oh my goodness, what kind of animals didn’t we have growing up is more of the question! We always had dogs, a poodle named Sam who had a lot of puppies back in the early 70′s.  We had a Labrador, a Great Dane, a Rat Terrier, and a couple of other mixed mutts.  We also grew up with horses – we’d ride around the Lake Youngs Reservoir.  I also remember sneaking a kitten into my bedroom one night and I hid the kitten in my hamper – I never was a very good liar, my dad always told me the look on my face proved I couldn’t do it very well and I still don’t to this day!  We had some pet rats, and I also had a rabbit, and a teddy bear hamster – it got loose twice and chewed through the cord of the refrigerator, and boy was my dad mad!  My dad had a great love for animals, that’s for sure, and I think the three of us, my older brother, younger sister and myself naturally followed that love.



 2. When did you realize your love for birds? 

Honestly?  I fell in love with the Triton Sulphur Crested Cockatoo named Fred that was sitting on the shoulder of “Tony Beretta” – the hot looking detective on the show called “Beretta” that ran in 1975!  I was very impressionable at the ripe old age of 12!

 3. What was your first bird?

My first bird was a Cockatiel, her name was Feathers, purchased at a pet store with wings that were way over clipped.  She was such a sweet bird!

 4. What bird do you think makes a great family pet? 

A very socialized one that has been handled properly.

 5. How many birds do you have now?

Hmmm, I guess I need to think about that… Let’s see, of course we have Inca Manu, my 20-year-old Green Winged Macaw, hand fed by me, and Abu Jafar, a Congo African Grey also 20, and again hand fed by me.  Those two typically stay at my home.

Then we have all of our wonderful store birds – four more Congo African Greys, females – Rico, Rosie, Billy (who was Bill for many years until she laid eggs and had a sudden name change!) and Iwa – Iwa (pronounced as in “I wanna”)… she’s our seriously funny girl, pluckin’s and all! (Iwa! No pickin’, chicken!)

Then we have Peck, the Mitred Conure, Coco, the Double Yellow Head Amazon, Pico, the young White Capped Pionus, Bob aka, “Booger Buns!”, the Blue and Gold Macaw, and Tikka, a Red Fronted Kakariki and Kazi, a Yellow Fronted Kakariki, and our latest addition, Cheeto, a very sweet young Sun Conure.  And of course we have our rather long-term boarder, Bert, the Blue Front Amazon who has been with us for a full year now and supposed to be going home at the end of the month.  And we’ve had Lola for a while, the Cherry Headed Conure who is so funny, and just a year and a half old, but who will be going to her forever home soon!  And we have a pair of Bourkes, one “normal” and one “Rosey”.

6. How would you describe your training methods? 

I train with a LOT of patience, calmness, and love.  I work with them slowly so as not to scare the birds.  I find most that were handed over to me to help find new homes all seem to have issues with hands for one reason or another, and we know the “another” is likely abuse or grabbing.

 7. What kind of diet do you feed your birds?

Well, my birds have the luxury of having a huge amount of variety since I own a parrot store and have all sorts of foods on hand.  They get a lot of Golden Feast foods, good quality nuts and dried fruits, all the various pellets, and fruits, veggies, beans, cooked mixes, mash and chop type mixes, and animal crackers for treats and once in a while popcorn!

8. What do you think the future bird/ parrot/aviculturist should think about? 

I think they should think about what they are getting into with being a responsible parrot owner.  They need to realize the joys and heartaches that happen… they need to know these birds have emotional issues, like a 3-year-old.  They need to learn the species, and make educated decisions before buying a parrot.  So many call me or come in to the shop asking to buy a parrot and when I ask them why they want one, many times they tell me, “Because it talks.”  And I just shake my head.  I never, ever sell a parrot without having the person come back into the shop to ensure they understand what’s going on with being a bird owner.  What the financial requirements are to buy parrot toys, parrot food, parrot cages, parrot perches, deal with parrot grooming, parrot vet visits, the cost of labor and possibly hearing problems later in life!  I re-homed a cockatiel to three lovely young girls who had to take home books to read from my shop. They had to come in and spend time learning, cleaning cages, preparing food, learning to bathe the birds, learning body language, and the “do’s and don’ts” of caring for these marvelous creatures.  Their parents were previous parrot owners, but totally thrilled with the process.

 9. Where do you think that the world of aviculture needs to focus on?

I think the world of aviculture should give serious attention to more breeding programs that release not just parrots, but all wild birds back into the wild, into areas which they can actually survive.  They need to become advocates for stopping the depletion of our forests and jungles and either slowing the population, or stop the invention of all the harmful, excessive things people seem to accumulate as a “measure of who they are”.  We never had plastic bags to carry our groceries in before – we used paper, and we would use those bags to cover our school books to preserve the hard covers.  What happened to those times?  What are we doing to our future generations?  The aviculture communities need to continue to push into schools, libraries and where ever they have a voice to educate, educate, educate.  Some say parrots shouldn’t be pets – I disagree – they bring a lot of joy to many, and treated right can have wonderful happy lives, even with re-homing – it’s the choice of homes they go to.

 

 10. Describe your boarding facility.

Our boarding facility is wild, wacky and fun!  Who had parrot boarding, toys and supplies, all right inside of a tax and accounting office?  We do!  Are our cages perfect and uniform and stiff?  Nope.  We have variety, which we feel creates a wonderful and fun atmosphere.  We have play stands, music, TV, easy chairs, couches, and a full kitchen!  We have tried to create a home like environment in a commercial space to make the birds feel more like they are at home because we know it can be stressful to be away from their flock and be stuck into a new one.  We have a great time with birds, and will certainly take your bird out and spend time with it when appropriate.  They get the best of the freshest foods, including all sorts of pellets, nuts, seeds, bean mixes, cooked mixes, chop and mash, veggies, fruits and treats!  They get movies at night-time.  It’s interesting to watch how well and easy most adapt right in with the crowd.  If someone is too stressed to be in the noisy area, we will bring them out to the front, where it is a little more quiet, or bring the bird home with us if necessary.  We are constantly changing things around, and are working on a little more creativity for our wall spaces to give interesting visual stimulation.  If I had my way, I’d be hanging boards from the ceiling that have different scenes of forest, jungle, beach, home, etc., and then also have them swivel to create a night-time effect.  Maybe someday we can get there!  Until then, we are always looking for artists to come in and show off their talents, with paintings on the walls… our motto is “No Bored Birds!”


11.  What inspired Inca’s?

Inca’s was inspired by myself, due to the lack of ability to find good parrot toys for larger birds and especially with a reasonable price.  We began at the downturn of the economy – purposely.  I thought, wow, what if people can’t afford food or toys?  Can I help support that?  Yes, I can!  And I do.  We price our toys and foods as reasonably as possible, depending on where they are purchased.  We like to purchase locally if we can, to help support our state’s small businesses.  This is why we also have it mixed right in with our tax and accounting business, we are trying to help the community but we still have to pay the rent!  The boarding side came after the toys and supplies, when I wound up rescuing, with the help of King County Animal Shelter, five parrots, a sixth one pulled from the freezer, passed away, five large dogs and a feral cat.  It was a lot of work, but if folks had come across what I did, they couldn’t have turned away either.  Three of those birds are residents of Inca’s Secret Parrot Toys & Boarding today.  The other two went to very good homes that were really good matches.  And the people who have them were wonderful helpers and very inspiring in helping me to get my facility going.

 

12.  If you could sit down and have a conversation with a new bird owner, what would it be?

A very long one.  All the education they could handle about owning these wonderful creatures, a tug on the ear as a warning for what they’d better not ever do, and a lot of love and continued education at any time.  I’m just hoping they wouldn’t feel like they are getting a drink out of a fire hose!!



 

13. People look to you as an inspiration, who do you look for inspiration from in the animal world?

First and foremost, I get inspiration from the animals themselves.  Watching them inspires me to do more for them.  I also have a LOT of people out there I have a ton of respect for…

Debbie Goodrich, The Parrot Lady


Barbara Heidenreich


Several members of the Northwest Exotic Bird Society and the Olympic Bird Fanciers

And even Judy, Inca’s breeder.

So many people out there know so much more than I do.

Birds are really like taxes in a way – you never stop learning.

Thanks Lisa for agreeing to be a part of “chats”!