All posts by dblancharddesign

Season’s Tidings

We stop mowing the lawn and start raking the leaves. And eventually shovel some snow. Some of us take the AC unit out of the window and start making fires in the fireplace or woodstove. We put away the shorts and t-shirts, and get out the jackets and boots.

Regardless of what you do when winter sets in, you know life doesn’t end or suspend. We don’t go into hibernation. Only the activities change.

The same is true for Garuda Aviary. When it gets too cold for the flock to enjoy the outside flight cage, the visitor area is closed and we stay inside until spring. But by no means are the lives of our many flock members suspended in any way. Parrots never “take a holiday” from needing food. They never “take a break” from craving stimulation and social interaction. They never “go on vacation” from requiring care and maintenance. So every day, we at Garuda Aviary provide our parrots with everything they need to be happy and healthy.

Winter also provides the opportunity to get some inside work done. Last winter, we started a GoFundMe social fundraising campaign to raise funds for specialized cage building material.  Thanks to you, we have partial funds and can now begin expanding a few habitats. These custom-built habits will offer maximum space and social interactivity, allowing our parrots to live as nature intended; in breed-specific flocks.

Please note: As we have not raised the total amount needed for the cage building material, if you would like to contribute to our habitat expansion project, please go to

No matter the season, Garuda Aviary strives daily to improve the lives of Parrots. However, we cannot do it alone. We need your help!  Please consider giving a year-end contribution, which will make an meaningful impact and allow Garuda Aviary to provide outstanding lifelong care and shelter for our Parrots.  Comfort and happiness is the greatest gift you could give!


Garuda Aviary is a non-profit 501 c 3 organization.  All contributions are fully tax deductible in accordance with Federal and State Laws.

Generous Bounty

Recently, Garuda Aviary received a large and very generous donation from The Parrot Posse. The Parrot Posse is a group of over 2000 members that combine their funds to purchase supplies and send them to parrot rescues and sanctuaries.
Also involved in the Parrot Posse’s mission is their friends at the Caitec Corporation. They specialize in stainless steel toys for parrots. For rescues and sanctuaries, Caitec offers stainless steel foraging toys to the Parrot Posse at deep discounts.
The entire gift package from the Parrot Posse and the Caitec Corporation included;
50lbs almonds (in shell)
50lbs walnuts (in shell)
11lbs macadamia nuts (in shell)
12 beautiful stainless steel “foraging cages”
Wow! What an amazing “care package”! And the timing is truly ideal. Now that it’s cold, our flock will be inside for the winter. As “cabin fever” sets in, our parrots can get bored and cranky. Getting the walnuts out of the foraging cages is a stimulating and fun way for our birds to “forage” for their treats.
We here at Garuda Aviary want to send a BIG thank you and shout out to our heroes, the Parrot Posse and the Caitec Corporation.

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Omar Transforms

Perhaps you remember Omar from our “Meet the Flock” page. He was the troubled little Lesser Sulfur Crested Cockatoo that had experienced violence at the hands of his owner’s alcoholic father. As a result, he would exhibit symptoms of acute post traumatic stress disorder. For as long as we at Garuda Aviary have known him, Omar would hide in the back of his cage, trembling and afraid.

Barely coping 

As time went on, we learned how to help Omar manage, despite his nearly crippling anxiety. Unfortunately, sometimes anxiety disorders get worse. Omar had never been a feather plucker. But early this spring, Omar began chewing the feathers on his chest. By itself, that is worrisome enough. But this problem took a frightening turn. Omar began to chew a hole in the skin on his chest. His anxiety disorder was quickly becoming potentially dangerous. Sadly, I had to fit him with an E-collar. The collar would keep Omar from mutilating the skin on his chest. But they’re cumbersome and often uncomfortable. In my experience with parrots, I’ve found that once a Cockatoo’s anxiety disorder gets that bad, they typically spend the rest of their lives wearing an E-collar.

Bad to worse

In the months to come, we would try to help Omar cope with his growing ordeal. Much to our collective dismay, it would continue to progress. He would destroy his collars, intent on mutilating his chest. After I replaced his fourth collar with his fifth collar, his disorder reached a grim new level. In an E-collar, Omar couldn’t reach his chest. But he could reach the tops of his wings. So he suddenly began to chew them bloody. My heart sank. When a self-mutilation problem like Omar’s expands to other parts of the body, it’s often only a matter of time before the bird does mortal damage to itself.


I decided to throw every Holistic therapy for anxiety at Omar that I could think of. At this point, I was willing to give him enough Valerian root extract to make him drowsy, just as long as it stopped him from tearing himself apart. In staggered intervals, I began dosing Omar’s water with a few Holistic remedies. One was Valerian root extract. Another was Bach’s Rescue Remedy. But the most impactful was a homeopathic therapy containing four remedies useful for treating nervous tension, anxiety and irritable sleeplessness. This product had a profound effect on Omar’s acute anxiety. Within a week, he had stopped plucking feathers. In another week’s time, it was clear he wasn’t mutilating the tops of his wings or trying to mutilate his chest. He seemed to be doing so well that I decided to remove his E-collar. He was so relieved!

When you remove an E-collar from a parrot, the first thing the parrot is going to do is preen all the feathers it couldn’t reach while wearing the collar. And you must allow the parrot to do so. Otherwise, the areas of un-preened plumage will just drive the poor thing crazy. So you then watch with great apprehension, praying the parrot only preens without plucking feathers or mutilating skin.


In this case, much to my great delight, Omar was only preening. He wasn’t exhibiting the dire pathological behavior. I was amazed. Avian experts generally agree that once a parrot begins to pluck its feathers or mutilate its skin, it is unlikely to stop. My experiences have led me to the same conclusion. So, it seemed these remedies had done the impossible; stopped a ferocious self-mutilator from destroying itself.

But the surprises kept coming…

Not only was Omar suddenly being kind to his plumage and skin, he seemed to be going through a remarkable transformation. Instead of timidly hiding in the back of his cage, he was coming up to the front. Instead of afraid, he was curious, as Cockatoo’s naturally are. He was even beginning to engage socially with humans. Nearly all of our volunteers have commented on how delightfully different Omar is now.

What did it?

The homeopathic remedy compilation consists of:

Avena sativa 2x

Coffea cruda 12x

Passiflora incarnata 2x

Zincum valerianicum 4x

I explained the situation to my homeopathic doctor. He believes Coffea cruda 12x and Zincum valerianicum 4x are the remedies responsible for this stunning change.

Could this be a cure?

With renewed enthusiasm, I am trying these remedies on other parrots with acute anxiety disorders.

Another member of our flock you might remember is Tala, a Moluccan Cockatoo. For years, she has worn an E-collar that prevents her from chewing a hole in her chest. I have tried again and again to wean her out of the collar. But as of yet, she continues to return to the pathological behavior. My homeopathic doctor advised me to be patient regarding Tala’s anxiety disorder. She has spent far longer in an E-collar than Omar has. Her neurosis has had a lot more time to set in.

So I am patient, but no less enthusiastic. It is my hope to single out homeopathic remedies that can effectively treat the anxiety disorders of most parrots.

Stay tuned for new developments, my friends! 

Christopher (Rigdzen) Zeoli

Garuda Aviary

Please note that while Christopher (Rigdzen) Zeoli has nearly 20 years of experience handling and caring for parrots, he is not a certified veterinarian. Nor is he a Homeopathic physician. Also, these holistic remedies have not been evaluated by the FDA for the treatment or cure of disease. If you have a veterinary emergency, please contact a certified veterinarian immediately.

Don’t Throw Me Away

by Christopher (Rigdzen) Zeoli

You don’t have to go far to hear about an animal that has been “thrown away.” But that description is usually exaggerated symbolic imagery for a more mundane example of neglect and abandonment. In this case, the description “thrown away” is literal.
The story you are about to read comes to us from Samantha, a single mother struggling to raise two children with no child support coming in. Samantha and her children depend on every paycheck she brings home. And the apartment building they live in does not allow pets.

“In March 2012, my daughter and I were leaving the apartment and went outside. We noticed various tenants standing outside surrounding the dumpster. A couple of the local kids had sticks in their hands and were reaching into the dumpster. Curious to see what was all the commotion we walked down to the look inside the dumpster. There was a white Umbrella Cockatoo inside foraging through a garbage bag eating some old food. In that moment my heart sank for the cruelty I was witnessing. Realizing the situation and having some familiarity with parrots I immediately attempted to figure out his disposition. I gave him a toy to test his temperament. He seemed timid and unsure however; he extended his foot and grabbed the toy. He seemed to be enjoying all the attention and I attempted to extend my hand to him to see his reaction. He extended his foot and perched onto my hand. From this point I decided to take him home with me.”

While Samantha’s apartment building does not allow pets, her landlord gave her permission to keep the cockatoo temporarily until she found it a new home. Samantha scoured the Internet looking for any local postings of lost parrots, and to learn more about the type of animal she now had in her home.
“I began researching online and found that often Umbrella Cockatoo’s get passed from home to home and owner to owner stressing and plucking feathers because they are lonely and do not get enough attention from busy owners. I did not want this to be the case with this bird.”

Samantha was unsuccessful in both locating the cockatoo’s previous owners, and in finding it a new home. As time went on, she and her children began to regard this parrot as a family member. As their affection grew, they decided to call him “Coco.”
“(Coco) has been very loving and affectionate towards me and the kids. He has shared in our home life experiences with friends, meals, and outings. However, over the past couple of years, a few things have changed, more so in the past six months, and as my children are now more grown and have become more active outside of the home, they have less time for Coco. Likewise, during the time that we have had him he has gone through various anxiety stages from plucking more feathers, to biting my kids. One bite caused my son to lose an entire fingernail. It took four months to grow back. Coco once walked across the couch and approached my mother, a person who has had significant time with him and is aware of his nature. Coco crawled up her arm to seemingly show affection and then bit her face breaking the skin under her eye. When left for only a few minutes unattended he has ripped holes in my furniture. To my knowledge after researching and consulting with an avian vet, Coco also seems to have reached his sexual maturity which is in or around five years of age and as such has also began to frequently scream as loud as possible for attention. There are times where even when we attempt to show him attention, it is not enough, and for whatever reason he insists on being aggressive with us. This makes living with him and keeping the peace with our surrounding neighbors more difficult and physically more concerning for us at the home. Clearly, this is through no fault of his own and as a wild animal nature compels him to be destructive to keep himself busy and staying entertained. However, due to his sometimes volatile nature, predicting when he will be aggressive towards us has become more and more of a challenge.”

As I am very experienced with parrots, I can tell you that Coco’s behavior is typical for most types of cockatoo. The screaming, biting, feather plucking and destruction of property are all due to anxiety disorders that most parrots develop while living in captivity.  Samantha was facing disturbing and damaging behaviors that are very difficult to manage regardless of what the parrot owner’s living situation is. Her family was repeatedly enduring bite-related injuries. And Coco’s frequent screaming threatened to turn the fear of eviction into a reality.

Coco was unhappy with the confinement of apartment living. And his coping methods were doing damage to Samantha and her family’s home life. With a heavy heart, she contacted Garuda Aviary in the hopes that Coco could live in an environment suited to provide for his unique needs; where he may vocalize as loud and as long as he wants; a place with toys to chew and space to play.
So I am happy to report that Coco will become a member of our flock. And since we already have a bird named Coco, we’re calling this new one Coco2.

I would also like to convey Garuda Aviary’s heartfelt “Thank You” to Samantha and her family for pulling this poor creature from the trash and holding it close to their hearts. For a period of time, you relieved his suffering at no small cost to yourselves. Thank goodness you were there when he needed you the most.

And to future generations and historians, I beg you judge us kindly. I beg this because we will be judged not only for the qualities of our penal system, but also for the lives that we throw away.


Please consider a donation to help us keep Coco2 and our other parrots sheltered, well fed, and loved.

Volunteer At Garuda Aviary!

Would you like to become a volunteer at the Garuda Aviary?

Currently, we are recruiting new volunteers to help our crew in the Garuda Aviary, our Lifelong Sanctuary for abused, neglected, and abandoned companion Parrots and other exotic Birds.

As a volunteer at the Garuda Aviary some of your duties may include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Washing, cleaning, and replacing feed and water bowls (usually done in the Kitchen area of the Aviary)
  • Cleaning the Aviary facility which may include sweeping, washing, taking out garbage, etc., as directed
  • Washing and chopping the daily produce in the Kitchen and following all diagrams which list bowls by number and amounts of produce by weight.
  • Helping our Director of Avian Care replace feed bowls into cages, as directed
  • Running errands to get food, hardware, and other supplies as needed
  • Working outside doing weeding, cleaning, or other outside maintenance as needed

Additionally, we offer ALL of our volunteers a safety orientation and volunteer guideline training.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer at the Garuda Aviary, please send us an email at

We will send you our Volunteer Application and our Volunteer Safety Policies and Guidelines. For qualified applicants, we will hold a volunteer orientation and training session, and will inform you of the date as soon as we have it scheduled.

Thank you for your interest in the Garuda Aviary and we look forward to hearing from you!

Do You Love Dust & Dander?

No? Then don’t buy a parrot! Parrots create a lot of dander. Much more than any other animal considered to be a pet. Garuda Aviary’s flock creates more dander in a week then the average household creates in a year. In one year, our flock produces more than 6 pounds of dander! That much dander can easily destroy the HVAC system that heats and cools a structure. Every two days, the Aviary’s ventilation return filters are blown clean with an air compressor.

All parrots produce dander; some more than others. The highest levels of dander production come from African Greys and Cockatoos. An atmosphere rich in dander is not only bad for your home’s ventilation system, but also for your body’s ventilation system: your lungs. Countless parrot owners have been forced to abandon their feathered friend after developing a respiratory condition. Respiratory conditions associated with prolonged exposure to parrot dander are known by some of the following names: Parrot Fever, Bird Fancier’s Lung and Parrot Breeder’s disease.

So unless you’re a huge fan of dusting, vacuuming, sweeping, coughing and sneezing, please do not buy a parrot.

What Makes Parrots So Anxious?

(Question #4 from our new FAQ page)..

Parrots are prey (animals hunted for food by carnivorous animals). Parrots recognize humans as predators (animals that hunt and eat other animals) because we can look at them with two eyes at the same time. When a predator hunts prey, they focus their eyes on the prey to determine how far away it is and what they will have to do to catch it. When a predator stares at prey squarely with both eyes, an instinctive fear response is triggered in the prey. This ancient instinct is telling the prey to get away from the predator.

Not only are parrots prey, they are wild prey. There is no such thing as a domesticated parrot. Domestication takes a long time over many generations. Humans had completely domesticated dogs and cats a few thousand years ago. Parrots, however, gained their popularity as pets only within the last 150 years. Any parrot you find in a domestic setting is identical to its counterpart in the wild. Parrots as pets are not “domesticated animals,” rather they are “captive wild prey.” And parrots bred by people are not “domestic bred animals,” they are “wild animals bred in captivity.”

Also, parrots live in flocks. Being prey, gathering in large groups offers safety, as there are many eyes to look out for predators. A parrot’s whole sense of security and even their personal identity revolves around their flock. But we humans don’t buy flocks of parrots. We buy one parrot. We bring that parrot home, put it in a cage that is often too small, and stare at it with our predator eyes. As a result, most parrots in a domestic environment develop anxiety disorders.