Visiting hours for the Aviary are Thursday through Saturday, 2pm to 7pm (weather permitting).
Visiting means seeing the birds in their outdoor flight cage. So, ”weather permitting” isn’t just about cold or rain. These days, it’s also about excessive heat. When the heat index is high, being outside can be very stressful for the birds so there may be a rare occasion when a high heat index does happen and therefore the Aviary may not be open.
The Garuda Aviary began as a private aviary when Tashi Bird, a Moluccan Cockatoo, came into the life of our founder, Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo. Tashi was a screamer, and was driving her former owner crazy.
So, Jetsunma adopted her. Jetsunma has a special affinity for birds (indeed, for animals of all sorts). She discovered rapidly that there are thousands of Tashi Birds and other parrots out there, suffering neglect and abuse, or who are traumatized by moving from home to home. This inspired Jetsunma, the spiritual director of the Kunzang Palyul Chöling Buddhist Temple, to create Garuda Aviary, an avian rescue sanctuary, as part of her efforts to eliminate suffering for all beings. People across the country quickly found that we would take in neurotic and abused exotic birds that needed care. We quickly went from caring for a single bird to caring for 36, and now we care for more than 50.
The Aviary is a 1500 square foot building containing cleanup and work spaces, isolation space for sick or new birds and most importantly, room for indoor flight cages.
There is an 800 square foot outdoor flight cage as well.
The good news is…
In their flight cages, the birds will bite intruders.
Why is this good news? Birds are flock animals but these birds were never allowed to be in a flock. Now that they’re comfortable in the Aviary, for the first time in their lives they have established a flock and now – you guessed it – they defend the flock from intruders. Christopher, the main caretaker (that’s him at the top of our home page), has fed and nursed them back to health and to some measure of normalcy, so he is part of the flocks and they recognize him as the male alpha and don’t bite him (most of the time…).
We take care of over 20 macaws and more than 50 birds in total. The large and medium birds are all in the photo above so you can see that the outdoor flight cage gives them plenty of room.
All but one of the macaws are capable of flight but cannot do more than safely flutter to the ground because, having lived in a cage for years before we got them, their pectoral muscles weren’t allowed to develop the strength for real flight.
What does this cost?
It takes an average of $19/bird per month to feed the birds (includes fruits and veggies, seeds, and nuts).
Caretaking these birds is more than a full time job. Christopher is paid a salary and the rest of the work is done by volunteers. It takes an average of $55/bird per month for food (includes fruits, veggies, seeds and nuts), electricity and the caretaker’s stipend.