I’d like to introduce you to four new members of our flock. Compared to parrots you see on popular entertainment media, these guys might appear a little rough around the edges. When they look at me, however, I see the eyes of children. Abused children. They are aware they have no control over their environment. Their eyes say, “I am ultimately defenseless. Please don’t abuse me.”
To which I say, “You needn’t worry any longer. You are safe here. That is why this place exists.”
Of course they don’t understand the exact meanings of my words. But they do feel my manner to be non-threatening. And that’s a start. Otherwise, it will take months, if not years, to earn their trust.
But that’s ok. Parrots are long-lived. So we’ve got the time.
The first three birds have been riding together on the same roller coaster of uncertainty for the last couple of years. A bonded pair of Blue & Gold Macaws and a Moluccan Cockatoo, (from a different owner) all found themselves at the same “sanctuary” in Pennsylvania. The reason I implied derision with quotation marks is because one of the macaws was attacked by a dog during its stay, something that shouldn’t happen in a reputable sanctuary.
A veterinary clinic in Pennsylvania contacted us, inquiring as to if we could take in a bonded (mated) pair of macaws. They explained that the male had been brought into the clinic over a year ago after being mauled by a dog. At first, it appeared this bird was missing the skin on the side of its head. But after extensive surgeries, the veterinary staff was able to reconstruct the mutilated skin. And despite severe damage to the eye, they managed to save it. Unfortunately, the function of that eye was greatly reduced.
To properly address this level of damage, treatment would not be on an outpatient basis. The male macaw would be in for a short stay. At this point, the sanctuary owner asked if the female could stay at the clinic to be with her mate. He also asked if they could stay for a couple of months, along with a Moluccan Cockatoo. For reasons unclear, he needed to find temporary boarding for these three parrots.
A year later, the sanctuary owner confesses that he absolutely cannot take these three birds back.
The veterinary staff did an amazing job treating the attacked male macaw. And they did the best they could caring for the three birds. But a veterinary clinic is not the place for lifetime care. They knew these parrots would need the enriched quality of life that can only be found at a reputable sanctuary.
To summarize; three very large, very intelligent parrots are abandoned by private owners to a “sanctuary” irresponsible enough to allow a nearly fatal dog attack. They are then abandoned again by that sanctuary to an unwitting veterinary clinic, after having been left to languish for a year. At that point in the story I said, “Alright. I’ve heard enough. This is ridiculous. They can live here.”
Odin and Frigga
The veterinary clinic had no names on record for the macaws or the Moluccan. And the staff knew better than to name them, lest they invoke the curse that either the birds never leave, or the staff becomes emotionally attached to them. I, however, can name them. They aren’t supposed to leave here, (because we are a lifetime sanctuary). And we do tend to get emotionally attached to them. So when I saw the male macaw’s damaged eye, I assured him I would pick a name that makes it ok. Even cool. After a bit of contemplation, (largely on my favorite mythology, Shakespearean literature, Marvel Comics or other tales of intrigue and high adventure), I decided the Nick Fury character had done a lot to improve the potential coolness of individuals missing an eye. But he didn’t have a dynamic counterpart, a companion he would do anything for. The logical conclusion then, was Odin and Frigga.
The veterinary staff in PA disregarded the curse and named the Moluccan Mr. HufflePuff, mainly because he puffs up and hisses when he feels vulnerable.
This Medium Sulphur Crested Cockatoo comes to us unrelated to the three previous inductees. A kind woman happened upon this handsome individual, for sale in a flea market. For the sake of reference, a parrot at a flea market is essentially at the end of their rope. Usually they’ve been juggled through so many homes and turned away from all of them. The woman that found him at the flea market purchased him, (without knowing anything about parrots) and hoped to find him a suitable home. She did manage to find him two different homes. Both returned him, complaining about violent aggression from the bird. At that point, her veterinarian’s suggestion was euthanasia. Fortunately, one more brave soul decided to give it a try before that final and extreme measure. In the nine months that followed, this man sustained numerous painful, blood-drawing bites. Most of these bites were on his hands and arm. But one time, our handsome Sulphur Crest flew up and bit this guy roughly one inch under his eye. Frankly, it’s hard to blame anyone for not wanting that in their home.
When this fellow reached out to me for help, he already knew the type of metal band around the bird’s ankle indicated that it was stolen from its natural environment, rather than having been bred by a domestic breeder. What he was unaware of, but not surprised by, was that what he had was one of the most violently aggressive breeds of parrot. I described for him the painful realities of keeping a Sulphur Crest, as I did in my post The Wild Cockatoo Heart. In my opinion, these birds don’t belong in homes. They belong in specialized facilities, when not in their natural habitat.
When most people hear about animals that have been discarded, mistreated and abandoned, they feel sympathy and pity. Most wish they themselves could rescue the animal and bring it comfort. But very few people are equipped to provide a good life for the types of animals I’ve been reporting on. Very few people are in a position to physically help. That is why non-profit rescues and sanctuaries like ours are so important. Garuda Aviary is a specialized facility. We know exactly what to expect from highly demanding animals like these. And we are equipped to meet their needs. Here, they can form bonds with parrots of their own kind. We have the space for them to fly around, socialize and play. If they want to vocalize at the top of their lungs, they are welcome to. We wear earplugs. Parrots, in general, are fairly destructive. Cockatoos are particularly destructive. That’s fine too. We make parrot-safe toys for them to destroy. We provide a diet customized to a parrot’s unique biology. And when the need arises, we have access to highly experienced, specialized veterinary care.
Without Garuda Aviary, intelligent, sensitive animals like Havoc, Mr. HufflePuff, Odin and Frigga (plus the majority of our flock) would have continued to suffer, become more and more marginalized, and eventually euthanized.
But you can’t realistically smile, turn away and act like these problems are covered permanently. It doesn’t work that way. There will always be parrots in need. And we cannot tackle the issue alone. We must work together to effectively make a difference. Garuda Aviary can provide the hands-on care that most can’t. That’s what we do. But we need your support to fuel the operation.
Many ways to make a difference.
Monetary donations are obviously the most effective way to help. Now I know when we think about making donations, we feel a little pang of anxiety in our wallets and pocketbooks. Most folks aren’t rolling in money and don’t feel like they have much to give. But it is still possible to make a difference without breaking the bank. Usually, facilities like Garuda Aviary aren’t funded by a small number of people making large donations. It’s better when a very large number of people are making small, regularly scheduled donations. We all have numerous automatic charges made to our bank accounts and credit cards every month that pay for our online music and movie streaming. Modest recurring payments for services and nonessential utilities that make our lives run more smoothly. If everybody who ever saw an animal in need and wanted to help took a few minutes to set up even a modest recurring donation to a non-profit organization that rescued and cared for those animals, then they really could smile, knowing that they were absolutely making a difference. That the money spent was well worth it because it relieved some suffering or made some nurturing care possible.
Charity Support Services
Charity support services are ideal for this kind of giving. You can donate without paying fees through PayPal Giving Fund. Another service is eBay for Charity. They can help you use your purchases to raise funds for non-profit charities.
Garuda Aviary gladly accepts new or unopened packages of:
- Raw sunflower seed (in the shell)
- Raw almonds, walnuts and mixed nuts (in the shell)
- ZooPreem pellets (M/L FruitBlend flavor is preferred)
- Paper towels
- 39 gallon lawn/leaf garbage bags
- Simple Green
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Garuda Aviary’s primary purpose is to give quality of life to parrots that otherwise have no future. We have facility and expertise devoted to this mission. What we need is you. With your support, Garuda Aviary will always be there to make a difference.