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Backstory: Fashion's for the birds

Sara Johnson | February 14, 2012 | Story

Photographer Julia Galdo was immediately drawn to Elvis, a blue hyacinth macaw, and his feathered friends; their vibrant coloring, she thought, would best complement the spring fashion lines featured in the March issue’s cover story (“Flight Patterns”). But Omar Gonzalez, owner of Orange County–based Omar’s Exotic Birds, which regularly loans out animals for Hollywood engagements, suggested the fowl for more practical reasons; they were all less than seven months old. “The adult birds are a little more set in their ways,” he says, meaning it can be harder to get them to roost on a model’s head or lap. The young’uns, which along with the hyacinth macaw included an umbrella cockatoo and a scarlet macaw, were much more obliging. In fact, they crawled all over the models and the chairs, like toddlers on a jungle gym. Elvis was particularly affectionate, perching himself on his model’s arm whenever the opportunity arose. (Fortunately, like any smart parent, Gonzalez had brought along parrot food.) No doubt the birds will go on to have long careers. Gonzalez’s charges regularly grace the pages of Birdtalk magazine and have appeared in ad campaigns for Blair’s Super Preen bird vitamins. The trio may even be destined for TV. Some of Gonzalez’s other birds have appeared on Survivor, and in July of 2003 two of his hyacinths were married on Animal Planet’s Beverly Hills Vet (check out the nuptials video).

Sara Johnson is San Francisco's style assistant. Email her and follow her on Twitter @saraa_johnson.

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