Jeddah's ultimate bird lover offers free counseling to curious pet owners

Feathered friends


Saudi Gazette

A SAUDI bird lover is offering consultations and bird services for free to pet owners during visits to various cities of the Kingdom.

Hamza Al-Ghamdi has appeared on at least 13 interviews so far. The Saudi ornithologist is passionate about educating bird owners whether at planned gatherings or during random visits to the pet stores.

“Last Ramadan, we had a gathering here in Jeddah for bird lovers. We invited families and broke our fast together along with our birds. I have been visiting stores and helping bird owners for almost five years now,” Al-Ghamdi said.

Al-Ghamdi provides consultations and training as well as other bird services all for free. His latest visit was to My Hobby for Pets Store in Jeddah on Feb. 22-26.

Saudi Gazette met with Kholoud, a female bird owner, at My Hobby for Pets who expressed her gratitude to Al-Ghamdi for the care and treatment he gives to birds. “This was not our first meeting with him. We come together whenever our bird shows a problem and he advises us what to do and what to avoid. I care a lot about my parrot, which I see as a family member. So, I always make sure to check his health with the right person,” Kholoud said.

Al-Ghamdi is active not just in Jeddah but he has also met with bird owners in Riyadh, the Eastern Province and Al-Baha.

Al-Ghamdi has been a bird owner for more than 20 years. He has been more active since becoming a professional in 2005. His hometown of Baljurashi in Al-Baha province is rich with natural sources and animals, and his only entertainment as a child was interacting with animals.

Al-Ghamdi owns special farms for birds where he teaches the beginners with an interest in ornithology. He was actively involved in efforts to get a ban on the import of birds to the Kingdom lifted. “Until a year and a half ago, import of birds to the Kingdom was not allowed. Even though many bird lovers made unsuccessful attempts in the past to get the ban lifted, with the help of someone else I prepared a plan to reach out to a person who would deliver our request to the King. I was very satisfied with the decision our government took and their response to us. I felt proud that I could do such a big thing for us bird lovers,” said Al-Ghamdi.

Before the decision to allow bird imports was passed, bird smuggling was a serious issue. A lot of birds suffered due to the inhumane ways they were treated by people stowed them away to get them into the country undetected by customs officers. "But today, bird smuggling is no longer an issue as we can bring in bird through open channels. It is actually a big blow to the smugglers who used to import the birds using hideous means. Half of the birds might end up dying before even entering the Kingdom. Not only that, today with the legal selling of birds with all their data accessible, the buyers would not choose to buy a bird with an unknown past. Of course, the smuggling may be still there but is very rare and only of birds that can be sold for a huge lot of money,” he added.

Asked about his future plans, Al-Ghamdi told Saudi Gazette, “We are seeking approval for a new project that we are working on. This project is to create an official bird club under a governmental agency. The aim of the club is to create a network of bird owners and enhance their knowledge. The project will cover everything that a bird owner might need. I came up with this idea and I already contacted the Ministry of Environment, Water, and Agriculture. The idea behind this bird club is to offer various services that bird owners have a hard time in finding. An example is a laboratory for DNA tests. A bird club can greatly benefit us as it will allow us to create better bird stores and even host events and exhibitions related to birds.”

The bird club is expected to be announced soon.

Al-Ghamdi also discussed the common issues he faced while meeting with bird owners. “Taming birds and feather plucking are the two main issues I often come across with people who visit me. As for taming birds, this is easy as it only requires a better understanding of the bird and its personality. So, what I would do is to teach the owner of the bird’s character and how it perceives things in order for them to communicate with it better," he said.

"However, feather plucking is a more serious matter. It is a common issue with so many bird owners. Some of the reasons include behavioral issues, diseases, or a lack of a proper diet. So, for any bird owner, it is crucial to understand your bird's condition before starting a specific treatment with the vet.”

Al-Ghamdi finally offered some tips to beginners who like to own a bird. “Test the bird at the store before getting it. If the seller says that the bird is friendly, then try to interact with it yourself before taking it home. Also, ensure that the bird has beautiful and complete feathers. That is because if the bird is sick, then it will not have the time to take care of its appearance. In other words, birds with clean feathers are mostly healthy. Another thing is never rush to get a parrot due to the fact that birds live for a very long time. So, the price of a parrot does not matter as much as the willingness to take care of it as a life partner. Finally, do proper research before deciding to buy a bird. Learn about its disadvantage before the advantages,” said Al-Ghamdi.

It is true that parrots are beautiful birds but owning them requires so much time and effort and only those willing to take care of them are the ones who will enjoy owning birds the most, he added.

Al-Ghamdi posts beneficial material hoping to educate bird owners through his social media accounts and YouTube channel. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter @hs_alghamdi, and SnapChat @hamza-alghamdi.