Monday, September 22, 2008

Ken Globus

Ken Globus' methods were decried by numerous parrot behavior consultants because those methods depended on the technique of flooding, but there are several parrot owners out there who found his techniques effective through all the years he practiced.

Ken Globus: March 7, 1946 - Sept. 10, 2008
The Bird Whisperer

Dear Friends:
This will come as a surprise to many people who didn't know he was ill, but Ken Globus passed away on September 10th. Ken, who hadn't been a smoker for about 25 years, was diagnosed with lung cancer that had spread to his esophagus. What's truly shocking is that, between his original diagnosis and his death, only 10 weeks had elapsed.

Most of you are receiving this email because you're on his mailing list. So most of you know him as The Bird Whisperer.

Here are some things you may not know about how Ken got started working with aggressive and phobic birds. Our parents used to own a tropical fish store in Inglewood, California. One day, our mother cleared out some space in the store and asked Ken what he thought would be a good idea to put there. Ken thought about it, then suggested that they might start carrying a few birds. Since our parents knew nothing about birds, they put Ken in charge, and he got to work reading books and researching bird behavior before he bought his first bird for the store. Keep in mind that, in those days, almost all birds sold in stores were wild caught, not bred in captivity - so they were usually pretty terrified and unruly. What Ken discovered - to his great surprise - was that very little of the advice in the bird books was appropriate for dealing with aggressive birds. So, through trial and error, he learned how to work with them.

One of the many qualities that made Ken so successful with birds was his patience - he could simply persist until a bird decided that being aggressive wasn't working to drive Ken away. Another quality that served him so well was his flexibility - if one thing didn't work to calm a bird, he'd try something else until he made progress. (Parenthetically, it's a quality that also made him a great father.)

When my parents reached an age when they were no longer able to run a demanding business, Ken went out on his own, doing private training sessions for bird owners. It was at one of those sessions where an immensely grateful client said, "Ken, you really are a bird whisperer."

Ken called me and mentioned the incident, and I suggested he use the name The Bird Whisperer because I thought it would quickly convey what he was capable of doing. But he was reluctant to use the name because he thought some people might think it was a bit pretentious. As a marketer, I reasoned that, at the very least, it was very easy for people to remember, where Ken Globus was not. He finally agreed.

Over the years, a lot has been written and said about Ken's techniques. You are certainly free to dismiss what I'm about to say as the biased rantings of a grieving brother, but I was simply blown away by what Ken was able to do with birds. I traveled with him both to private sessions and public workshops, and I watched him calm birds that couldn't even be touched by their owners. I saw people sobbing at the the sight of Ken stroking a bird's neck, a bird who wouldn't allow even its owner to come near it for over a decade. And I saw this happen many times.

His bird-training sessions really picked up when he set up his web site. For the first time, people outside of the Los Angeles area where he lived could get a sense of what his techniques were all about. He began to be interviewed by news organizations, magazines and newspapers, all of them interested in how he was able to tame birds so quickly. He was hired by zoos, bird stores, and rescue organizations to deal with birds they'd given up on. And somewhere along the line, Ken got a phone call from a woman who identified herself as Kate Capshaw. Thinking it was a joke perpetrated by one of his friends, Ken hung up on her. She called back and informed him that she and her husband, Steven Spielberg, would like Ken to come to their house for a private session. He gulped, and agreed. And as Ken showed Kate how to handle the bird, Steven walked all around him with a video camera, recording the entire hour-long session. Talk about pressure!

Through his many interviews and public appearances, Ken got to be pretty adept at dealing with one kind of pressure or another. The type that gave him the biggest problem came from his detractors who often wrote vicious and totally untrue things about him, and he would sometimes forward to me the more outrageous items. Usually we would giggle like schoolgirls, but I found some of these things to be appallingly mean-spirited, and I would want him to post an angry rebuttal. But, for the most part, he wouldn't. He simply felt that these people were uninformed. I always thought that was a most charitable way of looking at it, especially considering that many of the most shamelessly idiotic things were perpetrated by some of the more authoritative people in the bird world, people who felt more comfortable sniping at him from a distance rather than bothering to actually attend one of his events. But I digress.

What Ken was able to do with birds wasn't magic. Ken was just an incredibly sensitive and intuitive person who, in a very short span of time, could figure out the best way to get a bird over its fears. At this I'm fairly certain there were few like him.

I can also tell you that as a brother, there were none like him. He was kind, funny, incredibly bright, supportive, generous, and courageous - qualities he displayed up to his dying breath.

Last week there was an occasion I'll never forget. It was only a few days after his passing, and my wife wanted to put together a "remembrance", where a few friends could gather to talk about what Ken meant to them. Even though this was thrown together at the last minute, over 60 of his friends showed up, and I'm certain that, given enough time, a few hundred might have been there. Ken was loved and appreciated by so many people. There were folks there from various stages of his life, all relating stories about Ken that helped to paint a complete picture of him. And what a picture it was!

He was a great guy. A talented man who could do so many things well. And he was my best friend for 57 years.

- Dennis Globus


Mary said...

I met him a couple of years ago and he was a very nice man who had the best interests of the birds at heart.

He was so young -- this make me very sad.

Anonymous said...

I own a wild caught african grey parrot. I ran into Ken's website 3 days ago while desperately searching for parrot training tips especially for wild caught birds. First thing I did was sending an email to be included on his mailing list. Little did I know at that time that this great man has already left the earth. Just by spending around an hour or so on the website, I went home and tried some of his techniques on my bird, who till that time was extremely fearful of me and had never allowed me to even get close to him. I could not believe when after about 15/20 min, I had my bird sitting on my hand.

Wish I had the opportunity to learn much more from him, but whatever I have will always be cherished by me and my family.

May the Almighty rest his soul in peace


timt said...

I think I knew Ken in high school. I went to Palo Verde High School in Tucson, AZ. The Ken Globus there was a year ahead of me. We were in drama together. His birthday was in March, 1946. In any case, Ken Globus, the Bird Whisperer sounds like a fellow who found his niche, and for that I'm glad. My condolences to all who knew and loved him. Tim Tully

KAMuston said...

I am still in shock, nearly 3 years later. He was a cousin of mine, and in the beginning I was fairly instrumental in "fine tuning" his techniques: not with birds, but with people. He sometimes came across as gruff and a tad cruel, and I saw that a lot of folk were turning away from his talents because of it. And this guy was not easy to tell stuff like that to; but we knew one another well enough for me to clue him in on this area.
Still can't believe it.