Butch Beck, whose first name is Francis, is the president of the club, which helps its members share tips on bird care, breeding and even behavior problems.
``Our main goal is to educate ourselves and other people about birds,'' Beck said.
To that end, club members will bring some of their exotic birds to Longwood Gardens from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday as part of the gardens' annual chrysanthemum show, themed ``Fiesta! A Celebration of Latin America'' this year. About half a dozen of the club's 91 members also showed their birds at Longwood last weekend.
``Most of the birds we're bringing are from the Amazon Basin,'' Beck said. Last weekend, the Becks brought Cheyenne, whose species is indigenous to South America's lowland jungles.
When they get together, bird club members hold instructional meetings, such as ``Clip and Chip,'' the topic for tonight. Meetings are held at 7 p.m. every third Thursday of the month at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, Clifton Heights. The meeting is open to potential members.
In the ``clip'' session, members will learn how to trim bird feathers. ``You need to do something to stop birds from flying away, so you clip their flight feathers. It's just like a haircut,'' Beck said.
For the ``chip'' part, Jennifer Johnson, a club member and Glenolden Animal Hospital veterinarian, will implant birds with an encoded microchip, the size of a grain of rice. ``The chip is used to provide permanent identification,'' she said. ``It's important in the bird community, because of theft or loss.''
Birds sold in the United States are all hatched by breeders, Johnson said. ``There is no way to legally import birds anymore, unless you have a special license like a zoo.''
Habitat deforestation, and the illegal pet trade from 1950 to 1970, depleted the bird population, Johnson said.
``We're incredibly lucky to have breeders that breed these rare species of parrots'' for bird lovers to buy and save the species, she said. The Delco club has a dozen breeders as members.
``There are over 300 species of parrots that are on the endangered list,'' Johnson said.
Cathi Graham, a Ridley School District fifth-grade teacher, said she bought her two blue-throated macaws from a Florida breeder on the condition that she promise to breed them. The birds, 4 1/2-month-old Inca and Maya, are rare in the wild, with between 100 and 1,000 in the Beni-Santa Cruz area of Bolivia.
Depending on the species, birds can live anywhere from 10 to 75 years, Beck said. Because of their longevity, the club stresses family participation. ``Birds need to go somewhere if they are long-living birds,'' Beck said. ``I like to encourage my children, so I can pass them on to them.''
Beck said about 60 percent of members bring birds to meetings. They were not allowed at last month's meeting, when members tried out toys from Karen Monahan of the Birdhouse, a toy manufacturer and distributor in Sharon Hill.
```Birds are intelligent animals. They require things to play with,'' said Beck.
Not everyone should own a bird, Johnson said. ``It is more difficult to take care of birds than a cat or dog,'' because they require a specialized diet, nurturing and stimulation, she said.
Some owners buy ``birds on a whim,'' not realizing the care that is involved, Beck said. ``Within a couple of years, they become a nuisance and are sold or given away.''
The club has a five-member adoption committee to place birds.
``A lot of these birds are shipped from home to home, because they have behavioral problems,'' Beck said. ``They weren't raised properly, but they can be retrained. We try to place them so they stay with one family.''
At a future meeting, retraining and bad bird behavior will be addressed by a specialist. Beck is grappling his own ``problem bird,'' the cockatoo Jake.
``He screams,'' said Beck, with a laugh. ``What he screams for is me. He craves my attention.''