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Meet the Team

Debbie Johnston - Facilitator

My interest in conservation, combined with my broad background in education and direct experience in working with animals, motivated me to author and deliver this program.  I have owned parrots for over 10 years and have experience as both an equestrian coach and dog trainer. 

I am currently an active member of the International Association of Avian Trainers and Educators. I am also a member of the World Parrot Trust, Avicultural Advancement Council of Canada and the Budgerigar and Foreign Bird Society.

Prior to establishing Bluebird Learning, I was a Vice-President responsible for leading employee development throughout the 1,100 branches of one of Canada’s largest banks.  An accomplished speaker and facilitator, my corporate credentials also include Canadian, U.S. and international awards for learning. I have an extensive background in both human resources and technology, and I am experienced in special event management as well as corporate communications. In addition, I recently completed my MBA studies through the University of Liverpool via distance learning.

The Birds

During each workshop, I am assisted by my "parrot ambassadors". Each of these birds is extremely well socialized and very comfortable working with large groups of children.

Dusty is an 11-year old female Moluccan Cockatoo who was born in
Canada and hand-raised as a baby. This particular species of parrot is native to the island of Seram in Indonesia and is at risk of becoming endangered.

Dusty loves to be the centre of attention and enjoys showing off her "Dusty Dance" during workshops. Her "claim to fame" is that when she was 6 years old, she became the first parrot in Canada to have a beak deformity corrected by wearing braces. Click here to see pictures of her progress over the 10 weeks in which she wore her braces.


Jazz is a female Hyacinth Macaw. She is 8 years old and was also born in Canada and hand-raised. Hyacinths are native to South America, where the largest population can be found in the Pantanal Wetlands.

Hyacinth Macaws are the largest species of parrot. Jazz weighs in at 1,220 grams. With a body length of approximately 90 centimeters (3 feet) and a wingspan of up to 120 centimeters (4 feet), these gentle giants are truly spectacular birds. Unfortunately, they are special for another reason as well - they are an endangered species. It is estimated that there are between 3,000 and 7,500 of these birds left in the wild. After having the opportunity to meet one of these amazing parrots, students come away with a much deeper appreciation for the value of conserving endangered species.


Shorty is a 2-year old male White-Bellied Caique who was also born and raised here in Canada. Happily, these parrots are not endangered, and live in large numbers throughout South America.

Even though he is still very young, Shorty has a considerable vocabulary and has already learned a number of tricks, such as shaking hands, waiving, dunking a tiny basketball into a net, and stacking rings on a stand. He may be small in size, but he's big on talent!


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