All posts by dblancharddesign

An End of Year Perspective

We often think of parrots as pets. But technically speaking, they are undomesticated. Not enough selective breeding has occurred to cause significant changes. A parrot that was hatched as a result of domestic breeding is essentially identical to a parrot hatched in its natural environment. Ergo, there is no such thing as a domesticated parrot.
But because they are intelligent and inclined to live in social groups, they can appear tame. And they can imitate human speech, a feature that further inflates their popularity.

In 1983, the import of wild parrots into the United States was banned. So, domestic parrot breeders stepped up their production to supply the growing demand for parrots as pets. What that increase in domestic parrot breeding created was an inundation of parrots that are predisposed to obsessive/compulsive disorders, plumage mutilation, skin mutilation, and a variety of other neurotic behaviors.

So, you have undomesticated wild prey, that are intelligent and socially engaging. People fulfill their exotic fancy by purchasing them in vast numbers, only to bring them home and find out they bite, they scream… and they develop emotional and psychological pathologies that are easily as profound as that which humans suffer from.

As a result, Garuda Aviary receives an average of 3 to 4 requests a month from people who feel the need to abandon their parrots.
Many of those requests are for parrots that are more appropriately adoptable to another private owner. Garuda Aviary specializes in parrots that are not adoptable. We offer lifelong sanctuary for parrots that have no future. Parrots that have special physical, psychological or emotional needs. From hyper-aggressive Cockatoos to health-compromised Macaws, we care for parrots that require a dedicated facility with a knowledgeable, compassionate staff.

An Update on Last Year’s Inductees

Odin & Frigga

Odin can be quite a handful. While his mate, Frigga, is an innocent and timid girl. Odin challenges all authority and tries to dominate the scene. He’s been a real headache for the other Macaws. But they’ve shown him a unified front. I’m confident that with their guidance, Odin and Frigga will settle in.

 

Mr. Huff

 

Mr. Huff seemed to know he was home when he arrived. He clearly enjoys all that life at Garuda Aviary has to offer. And the other Moluccans have been generally accepting of him. Huff is well on his way to becoming a fully fledged member of the Moluccan sub-flock.

 

Havoc

Havoc is exactly what we would expect, given the breed and history. Violent aggression is typical for Medium Sulphur Crested Cockatoo. And when they are captured and smuggled from their natural habitat as Havoc was, the trauma makes their violent aggression much worse. Which is why this bird had received a veterinary recommendation for euthanasia.
Imagine. That would have been the sum and total of Havoc’s life; violently captured and smuggled from the wild, rejected from one home to the next because she is terrified and reacts in the only way she knows how, with fear aggression. Finally she finds herself being sold at a flea market like unwanted rubbish, and then euthanized. How pitiful. The freedom of a majestic life savagely curtailed to unsuccessfully satisfy the exotic whimsy of a misinformed public.
Thank goodness she showed up on Garuda Aviary’s radar! We have a lot of experience with traumatic emotional problems like Havoc’s. And we won’t be offended by her fear-based aggression. The more she bonds with her new flock, the less compelled to behave that way she will be. From flying with her new compadres, to chewing up a steady supply of homemade toys, Havoc will find purpose and belonging in an environment that is especially suited to her needs.

Looking Forward

While it may seem quiet in the winter from the outside, there is still a lot going on inside of Garuda Aviary’s climate-controlled facility. This winter will see the construction of the new twin Macaw habitats. Keep an eye on our Instagram account for pics of that project, along with many other wonderful photos.
Also, Garuda Aviary will be featured on Atlas Obscura/WAMU, (D.C.’s NPR affiliate) their new series called “Hidden City,”. Stay tuned to our Facebook and Twitter feeds for updates on when in December that show will broadcast.

It’s Always the Season for Giving

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.
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.

Donate Today, Fee Free!

Now with PayPal Giving Fund, you can donate to Garuda Aviary without paying any fees! And every penny of your donation goes directly to giving a parrot like Havoc a second chance at life.

CLICK HERE to Donate to Garuda Aviary Using PayPal GivingFund

Garuda Aviary is a 501(c)3 non-profit parrot rescue and lifelong sanctuary. Your generous donations are tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law.

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Diet Talk (Yes, Again!)

At least once a week, Garuda Aviary is asked to take in another parrot. Usually the requests comes from people that are at their wit’s end with their parrots terrible behavior. The highlights of the undesirable behavior are typical; ear piercing vocalizations, a neurotic need for attention, obsession, etc… And when the owner tries to pacify the parrot by giving it what it wants, the behavior seems to get worse. And the owner may even get bitten in the process, leaving them to wonder, “Well, what in blazes do you want then!?!”
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Garuda Aviary’s first calling is to help parrots that have been so profoundly damaged by prolonged exposure to inhumane conditions that they cannot be placed in private homes, or parrots possessed of extreme behavioral disorders, like hyper-aggression. So when I’m being asked by a frustrated parrot owner to take in their feathered companion, I’m eager to help them get to the root of the problem so the owner will keep that bird, and it doesn’t become another statistic in the massive “unwanted parrot” problem. And in my personal experience, the root of the problem can frequently be found in the parrot’s diet.
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Technically speaking, parrots are undomesticated. That means they are no different from their counterparts in the wild. So one must first understand what a parrot’s diet is without the interference of humans. Any parrot’s natural habitat will have a season when the region’s flora produces bountiful food resources such as fruit, seed, and nuts. That region’s animal life, including parrots, will gorge themselves on these resources to stock up as many calories as they can claim. When this happens, a parrot’s drive to mate becomes much stronger. The parrot’s body is responding to the instinct to bear young when resources are plentiful. For the remainder of the year when fruit, seed and nuts are not available, a parrot will have to rely on the region’s vegetable plant life for sustenance. As food resources become less abundant, a parrot’s body knows that bearing young and keeping them fed will be too difficult. As a result, the parrot’s desire to mate decreases.
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So when a parrot’s diet is too rich in fruit sugars and the oils from seeds and nuts, it’s drive to mate is intensely elevated. These abundant, fast burning calories trick a parrot’s body into believing that it is mating season. The problem is that this hypothetical parrot is not in its natural habitat, fulfilling it’s instinctual needs. It’s in somebody’s home, screaming his head off and focusing all of its surplus neurotic energy on its poor beleaguered owner.
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I will share with you some dietary guidelines that will seem obvious once you understand what a profound impact high-calorie foods, (especially those containing sugars) have on a parrot’s demeanor. But you would be surprised how many parrot owners possess this knowledge, but seem to avoid using it. Why, you may ask? Usually it’s because we make the same mistake with our pet’s diet that we make with our own; we determine cuisine based upon emotional desire, not knowledge and logic. And we often seek to soothe emotional discomfort with food gratification. This is a short-term solution for people, and an utterly futile solution for parrots. The other reason knowledgeable parrot owners avoid feeding their parrots correctly is because it does require some extra work.
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Ultimately, their diet should be mostly vegetable and pellets. A little bit of fruit is ok. But remember, a parrot in its natural habitat won’t see any fruit for half of the year. The presence of fruit means it’s mating season. Put simply; sugars cause mating behavior, (which is usually bad behavior).
We will also talk about beans and grains as a source of protein that is nutritionally superior to seeds and nuts.
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I understand that it can be challenging to provide a variety of fresh veggies on a daily basis, but fresh would be much better then frozen or cooked. Frozen always has extra sodium and cooked has lost many of it’s nutrients.
Raw veggies are the cobblestones on the road to a happy, healthy parrot. Raw broccoli, (for example) has N-acetyl-Cysteine. That’s an amino acid used to treat people afflicted with trichotillomania, which is the human version of feather plucking.
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The problem with fresh vegetables is that they wither and spoil too soon. When someone owns one or two parrots, they don’t want to buy a bunch of lovely vegetables for them, only to throw most of it away in a few days. But there is a solution. As plant material decays, it emits a gas called ethylene. As more ethylene gas accumulates, it causes plant material to ripen and decay faster. Ethylene gas collects in your refrigerator and causes the vegetables inside to decay more quickly. But there is a solution. Now you can find products online or in your grocery store that neutralize ethylene gas. You can buy food storage bags and containers that are made to neutralize ethylene gas. Garuda Aviary’s refrigerator contains only vegetables and a little fruit. So we buy ethylene gas filters, which are packets of a crystallized material that absorbs ethylene gas. Having two or three of those packets in our refrigerator keeps our vegetables in great shape for an entire week. Products that absorb and neutralize ethylene gas make it much easier to store vegetables for longer durations. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for best results.
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Recommended veggies; cauliflower, broccoli (crown and stem), yellow squash, zucchini, carrots, radishes, celery, green beans.
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Beans; Add kidney beans, lima beans, lentils for protein. Beans should be served al dente, not mushy.
NO soybeans. They are estrogenic, (promoting or producing estrus). It is difficult to completely eliminate soybeans from a parrot’s diet because they are usually an ingredient in pellets. So we don’t want to increase soybean intake by offering fresh or whole soybeans.
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I generally recommend the reduction of seed and nuts in a parrot’s diet. But if a parrot’s behavior is really bad, I may recommend eliminating seeds and nuts from their diet altogether. Either way, you need to make sure that the bird is still getting sufficient protein. When beans and whole grains are consumed together, they combine to create a complete protein. Adding whole grain brown rice, oats, barley, quinoa, etc. to the beans that I mentioned above offers a source of protein that is nutritionally superior to seeds and nuts. And it is better to depend upon the bean & grain mix for protein because seeds and nuts intensify the mating instinct.
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So as you see, feeding your parrot in a way that improves its disposition is not terribly complicated. It just requires a little extra work and a bit of planning. And the underlying philosophy is simple; feeding a parrot all of the seed, nuts and fruit that it wants in an attempt to make it happy is short-sighted. The gratification  derived from these treats is short-lived. As soon as the treat is gone, so is the fleeting feeling of pleasure it caused. And what the parrot is left with, the long-term result, is elevated anxiety. The result of feeding a parrot a balanced diet is a parrot that is calmer and more emotionally stable… and a relieved owner.
by Christopher Zeoli
Director
Garuda Aviary

Making a Difference

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

Odin (showing damaged side)
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.

Mr. HufflePuff

“Huff”

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.

Havoc

Havoc

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.

In-kind Donations

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
  • Odoban

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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.

Christopher Zeoli
Director
Garuda Aviary

 

Normalizing Compassionate Activity

When I see someone go out of their way to alleviate the suffering of others, it gives me hope. In a time when humans can so easily and so recklessly inflict profound damage upon the natural world, it can be easy to lose hope. As a species we can be blithely destructive, consuming untold resources just to appease our desire for comfort or amusement. The balance for this, (and undoubtedly the only thing that could stay our inevitable self-annihilation) is compassion. So when I see someone make the comfort of others a bigger priority then their own comfort, I think maybe, just maybe, we as a people can develop a sense of compassion that is greater than our destructive nature.

As our civilization evolves and our destructive potential increases, you can also see the balancing effect of compassion evolve in parallel. In earlier phases of our culture’s development, you may not see people committed to feeding or clothing the poor, or advocating for the rights of animals. Now you see these things. They have become more normal. Of course, large trends or societal shifts toward compassionate activity don’t just pop up out of nowhere fully formed. They start small with one person or a small group, and gradually gain momentum. People see the work of these pioneers in compassion and think to themselves, “That’s great work for a worthy cause. I wonder how I can help”.  Eventually these like-minded observers incorporate compassionate activity into their own lives.

Now, I’d like to introduce you to a couple of new friends of mine. They are very proactive with the kinds of compassionate activity that I find inspirational.

Rev. Dr. LoraKim Joyner is a Unitarian Universalist minister, wildlife veterinarian, and certified trainer in Nonviolent Communication. Her experience includes 30 years working in Latin American with marginalized people and endangered wildlife and nearly 20 years working in Unitarian Universalist ministry. And she is Co-Director of One Earth Conservation, which is dedicated to creating a better world by empowering the people saving the planet.

 

Rev. Dr. LoraKim Joyner and Christopher Zeoli

In Rev. Joyner’s own words; “I have worked in avian conservation in Latin America for nearly thirty years as a wildlife veterinarian. The beauty and the power of the people and parrots there draws me to be in solidarity with them and to witness and share their struggle. To be a better partner in promoting the health of individual beings and biotic communities, I became an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister, a Certified Trainer in Nonviolent Communication, and a member of the two-year Unitarian Universalist Entrepreneurial Program. These skills and experiences aid me in promoting the health of humans, for without the flourishing of people, the parrots do not stand a chance, and without the flourishing of life on earth, we humans will live narrower and less vibrant lives.”

Leigh Scott

Leigh Scott is a member of the Unitarian Universalist Animal Ministry, which is a group of concerned Unitarian Universalists and UU friends who desire to grow and express their faith as compassion towards all beings. Drawing on UU principles and sources, traditions, and congregational life to deepen awareness of the interdependence of life. And supporting one another in not just learning how caring for all beings is a moral and religious issue, but also engaging in concrete actions that bring about change on the individual, family, congregational, community, and societal level.

Rev. Dr. LoraKim Joyner, Leigh Scott and a small group of likeminded individuals recently visited Garuda Aviary looking to make a connection and thereby widen the network of compassionate activists. As you can imagine, we had a lot to talk about. And we agree on a great many things. Like the preciousness of all life. And the vital interdependency of every living thing on our planet. One species cannot be negatively affected or driven toward extinction without similar negative affects to other species in its ecosystem. Essentially, if one suffers, all suffer.

Discussing compassionate activity

At this point in the development of our civilization, humans have the means, and possibly the will to destroy every delicate ecosystem on our planet without any regard to the consequences. The only part of the human spirit that has any chance of restraining our selfishly destructive nature is compassion. It is the element of balance.

Now you have seen us, my friends and I. You have witnessed our activity. So what will you do? Will you remain a bystander? Or will you incorporate compassionate activity into your life, becoming part of the balancing element that nurtures the world rather than devours it.

What will you do?

I hope you will join us.

Christopher Zeoli
Director
Garuda Aviary

Renovations, Evolutions

The new structure occupies roughly 30% of the high-dander room.

During the winter, Garuda Aviary completed Phase 1 of the construction of our African Grey and Goffins Cockatoo habitats. Phase 1 includes the completion of the basic structure and the “private suites” for the twin habitats.
Phase 2 for these habitats is the completion of the “common areas’.

So you may wonder, why build a specialized structure with private suites and common areas? Why not just keep parrots in conventional, single occupancy cages?
The answer is that in nature, parrots form and live in highly interactive flocks. That interactivity is what helps a parrot deal with any situation. A parrot that doesn’t have a coherent social structure supporting it is far more prone to anxiety and depression. That is the reason for the common areas in the new habitats. These are areas where the occupants can socialize with other parrots of their own kind.

Each private suite is 4 feet tall, 3 feet wide and 2 feet deep.

The reason for the private suites is to facilitate safe integration. When a new parrot is introduced to a pre-existing flock, that flock may not welcome the newcomer right away. They may not hurt the newbie, but they may hoard resources away from him or her. Resource hoarding is the most common method for rejecting an outsider.

Our protocol for integrating a new parrot into the existing flock looks something like this;
The new bird is placed in it’s private suite, which is equipped with feeding bays, perches, toys, etc. After a week or two to settle into the new suite, integration can start. For gradually increasing supervised intervals, the newbie can venture out of his or her suite, enter the common area and begin to socialize. When it’s time to eat, the new bird is returned to it’s suite. This ensures that resources are not being hoarded away from  him or her.

Emily is settling in nicely.

 

In time, the flock will accept the new one. Eventually they will all eat together amicably in the common area.
This protocol, (plus the vigilant supervision we provide) ensures that a new parrot can be integrated into the flock without risk.

 

 

 

 

Jumpy is getting to know his new neighbors.
Split-level private suites

 

Hurry up and finish the common areas, Christopher! We’re ready to mix it up with our new neighbors!

Very soon the common areas will be the hubs of activity in these habitats. There will be updates and more pictures. Watch this space!

Christopher Zeoli
Director
Garuda Aviary

 

 

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 https://www.gofundme.com/NewCages

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.

Desperately 

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.

Eureka!

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.

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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 garudaaviary@earthlink.net

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!