Archive for Rescue

The Imaginarium

Posted in African Grey, Birds, Cage set up, Chloe, Chop, Cleaning, Education, Enrichment, Kacey, Macaw, Moluccan Cockatoo, Nutrition, Patricia Sund, Recall, Rescue & Rehabilitation, Simba, Training, Zazu with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 2, 2010 by angelsofflight

When I set out on this little adventure of building The Imaginarium I knew it was going to be a huge undertaking.  My father is an old man and really doesn’t use the downstairs of his house.  In fact he doesn’t even like to bend or climb stairs so it’s undeniably ridiculous that he built a 2-story house.  However, it benefited me and my flock.  While still in the beginning stages, I have cleaned up the cement slab and all that was “stuck” to it.  Some green slimy stuff and threw all the old decrepit furniture that he was saving (for god knows what) to the curb side for pick-up.  Now I have begun setting the stage for The Imaginarium.

The Imaginarium - After clean up

I chose the name, The Imaginarium, instead of simply saying “My Aviary” for the simple reason that not only do my birds need an Aviary, but I need some peace as well.  Here I will be able to relax, reflect, be alone or with friends, dream, escape and simply imagine.  I’ve added a few little friends to the landscaping.  There is “Diva: The Pink Gecko” for some character and of course the faithful “St. Francis” to watch over the birds and I while we are in The Imaginarium.  I imagined the most beautiful sanctuary complete with music, wind chimes, lush green trees, beautiful colorful flowers, and a small vegetable garden with herbs, strawberries, tomatoes and a few others I have yet to pick out.  It is a work in progress for sure.

St. Francis: To watch over my flock

Diva: The Pink Gecko

So needless to say, my 2 non-flyers are enjoying the scenery for the moment until the fencing is put up.  I’ve already started sitting out there with Chloe and Simba and imagining the day away.  Simba and Chloe have become really good friends.  They dance and sing together to the playlist I made for Angels Of Flight Productions.  It has all the music from all of our videos on it and a few Jimmy Buffet songs as well as Kenny Chesney’s “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems” which has quickly adapted as the motto for hanging out at The Imaginarium.  There’s a big wooden sign going up on the wall with that motto on it.

Chloe & Simba: Enjoying the late afternoon

Chloe & Simba: Hanging out after a bath

I am anxiously awaiting the actual fence to go up.  The materials should be here sometime this week.  My contractor assures me that it will be finished by next weekend.  I can’t wait to let Kacey and Zazu out in it.  I love watching them hang upside down on their perches and do all the comical Macaw stuff.  I can only imagine what there going to do with a 20′ x 12′ x 11.5′ Imaginarium.  The possibilities are totally endless.  I’ll be blogging most of the construction and doing some video too.  But for now…relax, pour yourself a “Green Parrot” cocktail, kick off your flip flops and imagine…

A Conviction Of The Heart

Posted in Chloe, Kacey, Macaw, Moluccan Cockatoo, Rescue & Rehabilitation, Training, Uncategorized, Zazu with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 23, 2010 by angelsofflight

Kacey - My Inspiration

When people ask me the question, “What made you start Angels Of Flight?”; I tell them a story of a 6 year old girl who was at The Bronx Zoo in New York in the summer of 1976.  The story starts out as a normal family outing that went very wrong in the afternoon.  While visiting the World Of Birds exhibit, an Umbrella Cockatoo (obviously wild caught since we’re talking 1976) was being exhibited by one of the handlers.  The 6 year old girl was allowed to pet the Cockatoo and for reasons unknown back then, the Cockatoo quickly turned and jumped out of the handlers grip and landed on the little girl.  While the Cockatoo was fluttering about on the little girl he began to bite her and attack her face while the handler and the little girls parents tried rapidly to get the bird off of her.  Scared and crying and bleeding, the little 6 year old girl was deathly afraid of birds from that day on.  Every time she saw a bird she would remember the horrid experience of her childhood and become so scared that she would turn and run in the other direction.  That memory stayed in the little girls mind until she was 37 years old…That little 6 year old girl was me.

Fast Forward…June 2007…

After landing a job at a major pet store I immediately made it very adamant that I was deathly afraid of birds and did not want to have anything to do with them, the Operations Manager thought it quite funny and put me in charge of the bird department…he wasn’t a nice guy…in fact he was quite sinister.  With that being the only job availability in a failing economy, I suppose I had to comply to his outrageous request and take care of these flying creatures that wanted to take my face off.  Everyday was one disaster after another.  I would go home absolutely stressed out. Until one day I made up my mind to try and get over my fears.

Kacey playing with her "Peek-A-Boo" blanket

While working in that glorious bird department and cleaning cages I became friendly with a Sun Conure.  He was beautifully colored and quite a little smarty pants.  every morning I would say hello, he would “wolf whistle” at me and I would thank him for the compliment.  He would come out of his cage and greet me in the morning and I would proceed to clean his cage and give him fresh water and food.  When it was time to go back in his cage I had to get one of the other managers to do it because I was afraid to touch him (again…that damn Cockatoo memory).  One day when it was time to go back in his cage, he lifted his foot at me…cautiously I lifted my finger to him and he stepped up and while shaking like a leaf, I gently put him back in his cage.  I was so excited that I ran out around the store to tell everyone (I must have looked like a complete idiot!).  I was so proud of myself.  I started reading up on Sun Conures and what their true feeding requirements were.  The pet store provided the basics and as I know now…not very admirable or adequate basics.  After all, if I was going to save the $699.99 to buy this little guy from the pet store, I would need to know the correct way to care for him.

Fast Forward…December 2007…

Kacey - Enjoying her life

I finally had the money saved to buy this little guy.  I had a 4 day weekend and on Tuesday, December 4th, 2007 I was going to make the little guy who I named “Skye” mine.  Everybody knew how much I wanted him, that I was diligently saving the money for him and the little relationship I developed with him.  As I went to get the keys to unlock his cage the General Manager, a very nice man unlike his managing counter part, asked me to sit down.  It seemed pretty serious as he had a strange look on his face.  He proceeded to tell me that “Skye” had been sold over the weekend.  As the tears welt up in me I began to cry, I lost my little Sun Conure to the first $699.99 that came through the door.  I taught him how to wave hello, I taught him to hang from my finger and to lay on his back in my hand…he was supposed to be mine!  Now he was not with me, he was with strangers and I would never know if he was ever taken care of the proper way.  The General Manger had tears in his eyes as well and gave me a big hug…although it was a nice gesture, it wouldn’t take away the pain.  He did tell me he had good news though.  He told me of the Operations Manager at another store who was a breeder of exotic birds and had rescued them from time to time.  She had a Sun Conure that needed a home and he had already spoken to her over the weekend about me adopting it.  Well, that wouldn’t be “Skye” but, this little one needed a good home.

I waited a few days and then called the bird lady to inquire about the Sun Conure…which I had already named.  Yup…you guessed it “Skye”.

Helping with the dishes

The conversation somehow went from me adopting a Sun Conure to… “I have a Blue and Gold Macaw that needs a home”.  Ummm…ok…now we’re back to that everlasting “Cockatoo Memory”.  Me being the passive, inexperienced bird person I was, I asked “Isn’t that somewhat bigger than a Sun Conure?”  Yeah well…alot bigger and alot scarier!  So, a week goes by and I decide to go look at the 2 birds…the Sun Conure…and this huge Macaw.  Needless to say, I never got to see the Sun Conure, I found myself driving home with a rescued Blue and Gold Macaw that hated me, didn’t trust anybody, tried to attack me at the aviary and a cage to put together that was bigger than my little rented bedroom.  What in the hell was I thinking??  I knew absolutely nothing about taking care of these birds let alone trying to gain the trust of one that wanted to rip my face off.  Back to the drawing board…time for more research.  Books, internet, friends, bird store owners, sanctuaries and the original bird lady were all helpful.  I took everyone’s opinions and made my own conclusion.  In one week I had this huge bird stepping up without trying to take my arm or my face off…

…Nine months later, Kacey was my best friend…

Kacey & Me

Once I was able to get Kacey out of the cage willfully, we would spend time together watching TV in my room,  hanging out on the porch together or playing “peek-a-boo” on the bed with the covers.  While watching TV together one day, I fell asleep and forgot to put her up in her cage.  An hour later, I woke up to a huge beak wrapped around my nose making kissy noises at me.  Oh my gosh! Please don’t take off my face!…The moment I said that she stopped, flipped herself over on her back, grabbing my hand with her foot and placing it ever so gently in her beak.  The baby noises and kissy noises continued.  I got bold enough and kissed her tummy…Kacey finally accepted me and knew in her heart that I would always love her.

Almost 3 years have passed now and although most of my posting is about Zazu and Chloe, my heart belongs to my one true first.  Kacey is my heart and soul…she came to me when I lost everything in my life including my confidence as a human being.

Angels Of Flight was started for Kacey.  Originally trying to help out the other lost flighted souls that were not wanted and that needed re-homing, AOF branched off and grew into a production company to showcase the wonderful world of exotic birds.  Still working with the rescue portion of the operation, AOF has re-homed 35 birds in the last year.  From the smallest finch to the Mollucan Cockatoo.

I am now over my fear of birds.  They are my life and everything I live for.  My relationships with humans may come and go, but one thing that remains constant in my life is Kacey, Chloe, Zazu and Simba.  They are “The Ambassadors” of Angels Of Flight…but Kacey is the true heart and soul of why Angels Of Flight was started.  People always say it’s great that I rescued her…I correct them…Kacey rescued me.  Kacey has taught me that no matter how bad your life gets there’s always something good waiting around the corner for you.  If you hang in there long enough, life can be an amazing gift.  She is my conviction of the heart.

A Year In The Making

Posted in Birds, Chloe, Education, Enrichment, Kacey, Macaw, Moluccan Cockatoo, Nutrition, Recall, Rescue & Rehabilitation, Training, Zazu with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 19, 2010 by angelsofflight

Zazu at 16 weeks old

The  day my life was blessed by a little Blue and Gold Macaw was June 13, 2009.  She was 16 weeks old and for some reason I was drawn to this little one with 3 of her toes missing instead of the cosmetically perfect other young Macaws that  happened to be at Sue’s aviary.  I always wanted a baby of my own.  I had seen all the bonding and fun people around me had with their baby birds that I never got to experience.  Not that I am complaining about being the permanent rescue home for Kacey and Chloe but, I just wanted a baby to call my own and that would have the same home for the rest of my natural life…and one I could train properly with no hangups.  I guess you could say I wanted to see what all the hoopla was about.  I realized, there is no difference except in patience.

Kacey: The Mistress Of Mayhem

Kacey was by far my biggest challenge.  It took 9 months of training and getting to know her before she trusted me and I trusted her.  She was my first big bird and she will remain with me until I no longer exist.  She tests my patience on a daily basis to see if I will still respond.  Every now and then she will snap at me through the bars of her cage…I suppose it’s sort of a game to her to see if I still love her.  The snap comes and then the scratching of her head to say “YooHoo…I Love You…”  she’s very comical in her testing, I think that’s one of things I love about her so much.  She’s a content bird now and I adore her as my first child.  She’s a very independent bird…unlike the others.  She has adapted well to my fascination with different species and has excepted her other 2 sisters and her brother.  After all she was the only one in my life for a year until Chloe entered the scene.

"Lady Chloe"

Chloe was a sweetheart of a bird…she was  a barber of her wing feathers and every now and then would hit a blood feather that scared the wits out of me.  Back to the computer for more research.  This time I was searching for remedies on feather picking and barbering.  I quickly realized, there’s nothing much I could do except love this sweet beautiful bird who would eventually most likely start picking at other areas as well.  She has now started picking at her chest instead of her wings and I am once again beside myself.  I haven’t changed anything so my wits are strung out again.  I try everyday on a daily basis to help and correct it but this habit is stemmed from something much deeper than before I had her…I will never know Chloe’s whole true story.  All I know now is that she is loved by me and I will take the best care of her I can.

Now…a year after enters the famous Zazu

My friends have enthusiastically watched Zazu grow up on Facebook.  From the awkward, wing clipped, clumsy little Macaw with only 5 toes collectively to the magnificent Blue and Gold Angel she has become over the past year.  This past Wednesday (March 17, 2010…St. Patrick’s Day) was her 1 year birthday…we call it a hatch day.  I look back over the last year to see all that has gone on…  The controversy of me recalling a wing clipped bird at the beach, the fact that she was a baby and not a “real” rescue, the decision to harness train her or not, how to feed her, what to feed her…everyone has their opinion and I took all of those opinions and made my own opinion out of it.  With the help of  few trust worthy friends and a strong heart and mind, Zazu has turned into a dream come true.

Targeting started at the onset of my time with Zazu.  The first night I got her home, I was mixing formula and BOOM…I had a 16 week old Macaw recalling to me…yes it was because she was hungry…and no that is not how I trained her in the months that followed.  I was fortunate enough to know that she had fledged before her wing feathers were hacked so I did have a bit of an advantage.  The following months, once again, brought alot of online research, opinions, and training.  I started inside the confines of my home for the first 3-4 months and then ventured outside.  This was the scary part…although I had all the confidence in the world with Zazu’s and my relationship, accidents can happen.  I was getting the guidance I needed by a well-known trainer and without his help I would have never even thought about doing this.  Her first recalls were in the backyard…a place her and I were familiar with and where I knew if an accident should occur, I would be able to retrieve her.  These training, targeting (on ground and in flight) and recall sessions in the backyard went on for about 2-3 more months with the same sessions going on inside as well.

Let’s jump to the 6 month mark…the first outdoor experience in recall and target training away from the house.

Zazu recalling at the beach

Zazu had become confident as well as I had on the recall and targeting so I decided to take her to the beach one early morning.  Packed up with water, treats and a few birdie friends with their birds, we headed to Port Royal Beach in Naples, Florida on a Sunday morning.  I started out slow with some ground targeting work in the sand for about 20-30 minutes then we graduated to a few recalls ascending off the ground.  As the morning went on, we were recalling off the pilings on the edge of the shore and just had a grand old time.  Zazu was confident and bold and never skipped a beat or a perfect landing.  As the next 6 months went on, friendships were diminished, relationships were severed, and jobs were lost but the one thing that stayed constant was my relationship with Zazu.  She has always been there for me and has never disappointed me.  During the recall training process people kept telling me…be careful, are you worried she’ll fly off and never come back…so forth and so on.  Yes, of course that weighs in the back of my mind. But, with proper training and all the elements that come with proper training such as: Positive Reinforcement, Operant Conditioning, Food Management, etc. the scenario of Zazu flying off and never coming back under normal circumstances are highly unlikely.

Enter…the spook flight…

About a month ago Zazu  and I were having our normal training session in the backyard.  This consists of a few obstacles that I make her overcome on a daily basis such as flying down off the second story deck of the house while I stand in the backyard and recall her…as well as flying into and out of our favorite oak tree that I climb with her as well and have her target to the different branches downward for a safe recall land.  I live behind a middle school and take into account the different times that the kids are changing classes because they can be a distraction sometimes…I learned that this distraction needs to be dealt with.  This one particular day I did not time the distraction correctly and the physical education teacher decided to hold his class in the back of the school near my training session with Zazu.  A flood of children came running across the field and spooked Zazu into our training oak tree in the lot next door.  This wouldn’t have unnerved me as much as the fact that the spook flight occurred off the second story deck.  As I was frantically making sure I knew exactly where she landed I was thankful she targeted to her second obstacle.  Although watching her fly across the field was beautiful I do believe my heart skipped a beat as I walked calmly across the field.  Equipped with a referee whistle and a whole almond (her jackpot emergency recall treat) I could see exactly in the tree where she landed and, gave a quick chirp of the whistle, and a reinforcing “Come here Zazu”, she flew down out of the tree effortlessly, instantly on cue and directly into my hand.  Upon her landing I was greeted with an enthusiastic Macaw “Hi!!”  and a beak snuggle into my neck.  This particular recall could not have been achieved without proper training…and the circumstances could have been alot worse.  This has not stopped our training outside and now after a few sessions of training during the class change at the school, her distraction has turned around to a concentrated effort.  Zazu is by far the smartest Macaw I ever met…I may have that opinion because she is mine but she is very attentive and her concentration and willingness to work to get the job done is far more than I ever expected.

With only 3 more wing feathers on each side to grow out since that first and only hacking…and a year of training under our belt, she just celebrated her 1st birthday.  She gets stronger and more skills everyday.  Turns and banks on a dime like a Cessna and soars like an Eagle…The making of the past year has been one hell of an experience with Zazu…I am enthusiastically looking forward to the next as well as I think Zazu is too…

Zazu and Me: Best Friends Forever

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xcloa1_angels-of-flight-the-ambassadors_animals

PETCO Foundation Steps Up To The Plate

Posted in Rescue & Rehabilitation with tags , , , , on August 14, 2009 by angelsofflight
Normally I wouldn’t post anything about the place I work on my blog.  However, an article came through our intranet news that struck my heart and made me realize WHY I support the PETCO Foundation and WHY every event I do at my store goes in support of this non-profit organization.  The PETCO foundation is a great organization that caters to assisting adoption agencies and stepping in when disaster strikes.  Aside from the Red-Cross and the ASPCA, the PETCO Foundation has made more contribution then any other humanitarian organization in the United States.   There web site’s definition is as follows:
The PETCO Foundation was established in 1999 to promote a wide variety of nationwide educational and charitable activities. PETCO Foundation has grown our partnership to approximately 5,700 local animal welfare organizations who save and enrich pet lives at the grassroots level. Through the years, the PETCO Foundation has raised more than $53 million through a combination of fundraisers including the well-known Tree of Hope, Spring A Pet, Operation Alteration and Thanks Fore Giving. In addition, the PETCO Foundation is always prepared to launch immediate fund raising efforts in the case of natural disasters and emergencies such as the California Wildfires and the southern hurricanes.
  
In recent news we heard of a canary/saffron finch fighting ring going on in the Northeast.  Last month in Shelton, Connecticut 19 (so-called human) individuals were arrested and 150 birds were taking into the custody of the local animal control.  At that time, there was no housing available for the birds until PETCO Store #760 stepped in.  Tom Page, District 44 Manager made a call to Paul Jolly, our Executive Director of PETCO Foundation and explained the situation.  Paul immediately sprang into action and arranged for 60 cages to be delivered from our New Jersey Distribution Center to Store #760 to aid in the relief effort for these birds of misfortune.  While we are supplying food and necessary items to keep the birds happy and start their rehabilitation process, PETCO Foundation will also be on hand to assist in the adoption efforts for the birds.  With some of the birds being very badly injured, PETCO is also helping out with the medical assistance needed for the birds.  Unfortunately while the investigation is still going on, the birds must remain in the custody of the state…but PETCO and animal control will be working side by side to ensure the safety and health of the birds while they are there.
 
This is the kind of story that makes me proud to work where I do.  Alot of hear-say and such has spread over the years about PETCO and other pet stores and while some of it is true with other stores, I am extremely honored to be part of the PETCO Foundation and all it stands for.  The achievements of this company and it’s mission is by far the most relevant in the Nation aside from the rescue organizations that we are partners with.  This includes alot of high profile rescues around the globe as well.  PETCO stores have already reduced their live animal sales by 33% Nationwide and every store in the Tampa Bay market does not even sell birds anymore.  Our vision for 2010 is to “Take Back The Leadership of The Pet Industry”…this does not mean just sales and profit…this refers to finding loving, forever homes for every unwanted, abused, neglect or in need of assistance animal we can.  PETCO’s leadership in an industry that has so much heartache can turn it around 150 birds at a time and present a positive outcome for some of the most horrific situations.
 
PETCO_logoSo when someone starts ragging on the company I work for (and doesn’t know I am the Companion Animal Department Manager)…I always refer them to stories like this.  This tends to shut them up sometimes and if it doesn’t, then I have no use for that person.  We are doing our part and everything we can to help fight with the cause…not against it!!  If one organization can do so much…can you imagine what the world can do if they would stop ragging on companies like mine and actually worked side by side with us…hummmm…what a logical concept!!  But, the world is cruel sometimes and those people feel it more necessary to try and degrade a company that is raising $53 million to help animals in need instead of praising them.  Put your negative efforts into a positive motion…whether it’s the PETCO Foundation or another organization.  Channel your energy to help…not condemn.

The PETCO Foundation is responsible for coordinating the donation of in-kind goods and services through our partners to animals in need of assistance.  The PETCO Foundation dedicates its programs to serving the Four R’s- Reduce, Rescue, Rehabilitate, Rejoice. We strive to achieve our mission by creating responsible pet owners, reducing the number of animals euthanized, rescuing animals in crisis and rehabilitating undesirable behaviors in pets to keep them in a loving home.

Now I ask you…does that really sound like an organization you want to turn your back on?…I know I wouldn’t!

To Rescue Or Not To Rescue…That Is The Answer!

Posted in Education, Enrichment, Rescue & Rehabilitation with tags , , , , , , , , on July 5, 2009 by angelsofflight

Kacey01

…And what an answer it is!!!

I have had the pleasure of rescuing three birds (Kacey, Chloe, and Sophie) and let me tell you…it wasn’t always a pleasure but one heck of a learning experience!!  Between the distrust, feather shredding, biting and what have you…let’s just say I have a few…ummm…”Enrichment Battle Wounds“.  Unfortunately, the knowledge I have today I didn’t have back then so, I’m making up for lost time.

The body language of a parrot can tell you a whole bunch of things.  I often sit and observe my birds with such great awe marking their body movements, listening to their vocalizations and watching the way they interact with each other.  The same goes for that rescue parrot you brought home last month that you still can’t get near because he lunges at you through the cage!  Hence…the rehabilitation starts!

Trust is a big issue when it comes to a rescue bird.  The first step is gaining their trust.  If you are fortunate to know of any trauma that went on in the previous home then you are one step ahead of the game.  One of the toughest rescue situations is the “unknown”.  Patience is a virtue when it comes to this…because of the unknown we have no idea what has happened.  Through trial and error we make our decisions on how to go about the first steps of rehabilitation.  I am going to use Kacey (my 11 year old Blue and Gold Macaw) for an example.  I was fortunate enough to know about Kacey’s background.  She was 10 when I got her and for the first 7 years of her life she had been physically beaten and abused, knocked off her perch in her cage by a water hose on a daily basis, on a diet consisting of nothing but peanuts and with all of this combined…untrustworthy.  I would be too if you treated me that way.  She didn’t trust strangers and that was exactly what I was to her.  I had to be careful feeding her…she would lunge at me through the cage.  So, I figured she loves peanuts, I will use that to get her to step up.

Every morning I would wrap my arm in 2 towels, an ace bandage to keep the 2 towels on and a long sleeved sweatshirt with gloves on (I live in Florida…this is not proper attire!).  I would open the cage door, put my hand out to her and show her the peanut.  If she even just put one toe up to me…she would get the peanut…if she snapped at the peanut (and my hand) I would drop the peanut through the grate of her cage and close the door.  I would get a polite “Uh Oh” from her and then come back 10 minutes later and try it again.  Within a week I had her stepping up to me.  This is what we call Positive Reinforcement (R+).  She steps up or makes an attempt to…she gets the peanut.  She didn’t always get the peanut… an obnoxious, “GOOD GIRL” from me seemed to make the same impression.  This type of training is used with your baby birds as well.  While all cute and cuddly, they are eventually going to grow up.  R+ needs to be started immediately during weaning!  I cannot stress that enough!!  The last thing you want is a parrot that dominates your home.  Through R+ Training and Enrichment you obtain a mentally, physically and emotionally healthy parrot.  Great reading and DVD’s on this subject can be purchased at GoodBird, Inc. and The Leather Elves there are 2 major training tools I use and that is the book Good Bird by Barbara Heidenreich and the DVD Enriching Your Parrot’s Life by Robin Shewokis.  Thanks to Patricia Sund…these have become my bibles!!  This is a joint adventure.  It is a partnership…you work together to achieve the goal. 

So…the answer remains…To Rescue Or Not To Rescue…There is a sense of personal achievement when that rescue bird finally steps up to you instead of lunging at you.  It is a slow and patient process.  I will tell you from personal experience, it has been the greatest achievement of my life so far.  I am the Companion Animal Department Manager at a local Petco store and everyday I see animals being brought in by customers that cannot take care of them.  Some enter the store in a purse or a bag and left in a kennel on our shelves.  All I can say is this…there are so many unwanted animals out there in shelters and rescues that there aren’t enough people for.  Petco is already doing their part by lowering the animals they sell by 30%!  That is a big step for the pet industry!  I am happy to say that the discontinued sales of birds is on it’s way as well…an even bigger step!  Think adoption first before you go to the pet store and pay an astronomical amount of money for a bird (or any animal).  Do your homework and research on what species is appropriate for you, your family and your lifestyle.  Weigh the pros and cons, discuss WHY you want to add a bird to your home.  Remember…the idea of getting a bird to match the color of your couch and make your home look more tropical is NOT the reason to get one!!  I see it all the time…especially where I live in Florida.  People get a big bird to make their house look more ” Florida like”.  It doesn’t work, they have no idea how to train the bird, no resources, or the desire to learn and that’s when they wind up in the shelters here (it’s not the only reason but one of them).  For the “die-hard” bird lovers…we never let the novelty wear off of owning such beautiful creatures.  You own an exotic animal that was born to be wild…there is no “taming” that animal…only to teach them right from wrong.

Meet The Girls

Posted in Birds, Education, Rescue & Rehabilitation with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 4, 2009 by angelsofflight

Kacey

In the Winter of 2007 I had the honor of meeting “Sue”.  A breeder of exotic birds and a woman with a big heart.  Not only did Sue breed exotic birds but she also rescued them from time to time from homes that are not so worthy of owning such birds.  She had mentioned to a mutual friend that she had a 10 year old Blue and Gold Macaw that she needed to find a good home for.  She had known the bird for quite some time and it had been shuffled from one neglection home to another over the course of 7 years.  Some abuse had taken place and it was time to find a reputable home that was going to take care of “Kacey”.

On December 22, 2007 Kacey became part of my family…9 months later she became my best friend…

The first time I met Kacey was at Sue’s aviary.  She was extremely untrustworthy and had issues that stemmed from the neglection and abuse she had received from her previous owners.  She ran across the floor at me and attempted to attack.  Thank goodness for Sue being there.  At the time I didn’t know that much about Macaws, let alone being the possible owner of a rescue.  I took Kacey home that night not knowing where this would all lead for me and the relationship I was going to have with a huge bird that had a huge beak!  One that could easily snap my hand off my wrist!  I didn’t trust Kacey and she didn’t trust me.  Music seemed to soothe her anxiety so I would sing “My Girl” by the Temptations…she would swing back and forth in her cage on her swing.  After a week of this she was stepping up without snapping at me.  That was the beginning of her rehabilitation as well as mine.  She never pushed me and I never pushed her…it was always mutual ground.  When she was ready and willing I would take it to the next level.  9 months later I was taking a nap and had left her out on my bed.  I woke up to a big beak making kissing noises on my nose and snuggling in the sheets with me…we were now inseparable.  2 weeks later she flipped over on her back and started kissing me again.  This was her thank you to me as well as her acceptance of me…we were now the best of friends. 

Every night before bedtime, Kacey kisses me goodnight.  When I come home from work late at night and it’s dark in the house she says with a whisper, “Shh, mommy’s home”.  She talks to me all day and we seem to understand what each other is saying.  The reward of having Kacey after 9 months of rehabilitation on both our parts is an emotion that can’t be explained.  It has been the biggest, greatest adventure of my life.  Kacey has the ability to outlive me and she will be my best friend and the biggest accomplishment of my life until the day I take my last breath…

  

Chloe

In April of 2008 we had the pleasure of meeting Chloe, a Moluccan Cockatoo that was by far the most comical bird we had ever seen.  After spending many years in a home full of smoke she was covered in nicotine.  Once again, “Sue” our trust worthy aviary owner had rescued this beautiful little girl from an unfit home.  Chloe had issues of not so much plucking her wing feathers, but shredding them.  Her anxiety level was sky high.  Thinking that maybe she should have a mate, Sue’s male Moluccan Cockatoo was looking for a girlfriend.  6 months later, Chloe was part of our family.

We had been talking about adding another bird to our home and it only felt right to bring in another rescue.  We made the phone call to Sue and asked how Chloe was doing in the breeding program.  We were happy to find out that she wasn’t.  Again, trusting our husbandry and the lives of her rescue birds with us, Sue gave us our second rescue girl…Chloe.

Chloe is now the main character in our presentations showing off her many talents like hanging from her beak and flapping her wings from her coop cup on her perch and telling the audiance how pretty she is.  Her feather shredding will always be an issue as she has seperation anxiety.  With alot of cuddle time and kisses, she is a bright, comical, spastic little girl that we have tons of fun with.

  

Sophie

 This Congo African Grey was an unexpected surprise.  Left at a forclosed home, in a cage, on the back porch with no food or water Sophie came into our lives and quickly adapted in a matter of weeks.  She was a baby…not even a year old when we found her.  After being a part of our family she has matured and blossomed into your typical African Grey…boy does she LOVE to eat!  Sophie is the most talkative of our flock and she picks up on words and phrases in a matter of weeks (sometimes days), so we are always watching out for what we say in the house…our motto is…”If you don’t want your parrot repeating it…don’t say it!”

Sophie still has issues with being “hand-fed”.  Now when I say hand fed, I mean taking food (almonds, peanuts, fruit, etc.) from our hand.  This has made it a bit difficult to train her.  She loves food, she just doesn’t like it handed to her.  This leads me to believe that maybe an incident had happened where she was “reprimanded” a bit to harshly while being fed by hand.  It’s OK though…little by little with baby steps and positive reinforcement (R+) training, she’ll get on track.

The African Grey is by far one of the most intelligent companion birds.  Sophie picks up on everything that Kacey and Chloe say.  Her favorite words are, “Peek-a-boo” and “Chloe is a pretty girl”.  We are still learning about Sophie on a daily basis.  She is an amazing little bird and despite her beginning in life…she has become a major part of a good home…she is the ultimate Cinderella story.

 

ZAZU!!

On March 17th, 2009 a little Blue and Gold Macaw was born at Sue’s aviary, The Baby Bird Shoppe. 

 While at a bird show in Orlando with Sue, I was helping her out with the 18 birds she had brought with her.  This particular baby Blue and Gold Macaw was a very special one.  She was one of 6 that Sue had brought with her that day and the only one that had a cosmetic difference (so to speak).  On one foot there were three toes and on the other only two.  All the birds were sold that day except for one…Zazu.

 Sue hadn’t planned on going home with any birds that day, only the ones she was considering on purchasing.  Then came the question, “Do you want her?”  Ok…now, I ask anybody in their RIGHT mind…who wouldn’t take a 14 week old baby Blue and Gold Macaw for free and despite the cosmetic imperfection?  Uh…right!  Well…that settled that!  Zazu was on her way back with me to Naples, Florida!! 

Despite her “handicap” you would never know she had one…in fact, she doesn’t even know she has one!!  She is treated as though she had all of her toes…her balance and coordination is precise.  Being a fledgeling bird, Zazu has now entered into training for flight recall (which is a SLOW process with fantastic results) under the Internet guidance of some of the most celebrated trainers and the support of Angela Herschel and Barb Saunders  in California (those two ladies have put me in touch with some great people in the Avian World that I am forever grateful).  I am so OCD with teaching Zazu the right way…ya know, my first baby and everything.  I thank my lucky stars I have all the right people helping me out and contributing their knowledge and educating me the correct way for the betterment of me and Zazu.  This has also helped with the others (Kacey, Chloe, and Sophie).  They are getting the idea of positive reinforcement and enrichment.  Although the others do not recall in flight mode, they engage in the concept on a daily basis.

These methods prove to work!  There is nothing better then a parrot that WANTS to come to you…instead of a parrot that feels he/she has no choice.