PET BIRD SANCTUARY OF THE PARROT FANCIERS' CLUB
By Lisa Umstead
After realizing the need for another bird club on Long Island, New York, I along with several others, started the Parrot Fanciers' Club, incorporated in October of 1998. Besides educating the public on proper bird care, along with wanting to create a social environment for all bird lovers to flock and discuss the love of their birds, PFC noticed a need for homeless & injured birds to have a place to go to, in between homes, a haven, a sanctuary, so Parrot Haven, Long Island's First Non Profit Pet Bird Sanctuary the rescue division of the club was created in July of 1999, to insure that all homeless birds would have a place to go to in the event of an emergency situation.
At that time, there were only 125 members in the club, with the membership currently at 257. There was a discussion as to how the birds would be housed, receive medical care and perform routine care of feeding and cleaning up the birds. I am fortunate to own a large house and I had the space to provide such an environment. Being a part of the bird world for many years, I had many contacts that were willing to assist in this endeavor. Rich King, of King's Cages donated several cages, perches & toys to start us off in the right direction.
The first resident was Beakless, a blue & gold macaw, who had escaped from his home, and after his recapture, the owner was unable to take him back. Next came Mike, a Meyer's parrot, from a man who found him in his yard, then placed him in a paper bag, and bought him over to the house. Then there was, Mimi, a blue fronted amazon that had landed on a porch and the people who found him needed to find him a home. A parakeet, Baby, plucked naked, full of mites, was left in a bag on a shelf in a pet store. A woman needing a kidney transplant needed temporary housing for Donald, her Quaker, for 4 months while she recuperated after surgery. Coco, a self mutilating cockatoo, needed to be in an environment in which her wounds could be taken care of daily: Then came Chuckie, a self mutilating cherry head conure: Zeke, a plucked jenday: another blue front, a blind 35 year old blue front, named Beezer: Mo, a plucked moluccan: Rescue, a Camelot macaw, who had been housed outdoors and was nearly killed after being attacked by a raccoon and his leg was nearly severed: Dusty, a dusky conure, who was placed after his owner was hospitalized: Merlin, a citron cockatoo, placed after his owner could no longer care for him, since he lived on a houseboat and it was getting too cold: Buddy, a Quaker, who flew onto someone's shoulder and needed a place to stay: Pepe, a blue front amazon, who had been housed with Rescue, needed a milder environment. Toby, a spectacled amazon was flown in from Ohio. Webster, a greenwing, showed up on my doorstep, moments after I had returned a call to a frantic owner who could no longer keep this gorgeous macaw. The list goes on.
People, who for whatever reason did not know how to properly take care of their birds, were just tired of cleaning up after them, who were in the process of divorce, or who were homeless themselves. Within a few months, after taking in about 25 birds, I realized that I needed something easier to clean. One of my members knew a vet who had used kennels, and was willing to sell them at a great discount, so I acquired 9 molded plastic kennels, 28" x 28", which was ideal to house the smaller birds and made life so much easier because all I had to do was wipe the individual compartments. This was great. I was in seventh heaven. I set up six of the kennels in a room in my basement. Three of the kennels are available to whoever needs a safe environment to house their bird after an injury, since there aren't that many bars to climb, and possibly increase the injury. Scarlet, a 3 month old greenwing macaw needed to rest after she broke her leg, after a fall. In her cage she was constantly climbing and healing was delayed. Then there was Hina Hina, a timneh, who had chewed off his toes after getting them caught in the threads of a cloth hut. Since he was so active, he needed a sedate environment to heal properly. These kennels are available to anyone who needs them at no cost, just as the Parrot Haven services are available.
One of my favorite birds, is Baby, a paralyzed red crowned amazon who came in from Delaware last year. His back was broken after he fell off his perch. I was more than thrilled to take in this precious baby, having had plenty of experience in tending to the needs of a disabled bird after I had previously owned another bird with a similar injury.
Parrot Haven, a 501 (c) 3 Non Profit Organization, under the Parrot Fanciers' Club survives, in part through tax deductible donations and by asking for a nominal donation when a bird is adopted, ranging from $5 for a parakeet up to $80 for a macaw. PFC also raises funds by having garage sales, car washes, raffles and bringing the birds to birthday parties and schools. Only members can adopt a bird since PFC would like to know that all birds are going to someone who has the sincere welfare of the bird at heart. By becoming a member, not only of PFC, but of any educational organization, one is taking the first step towards good bird ownership. PFC has a Parrot Hotline available 24 hours a day in which any caller can request bird related assistance. Volunteer operators pick up messages several times daily to assess all calls and tend to emergency calls such as trying to capture a bird in a tree or just to report a lost or found bird. Found birds are placed for adoption after a six week effort to locate owners has been exhausted.
Parrot Haven works with several vets who have donated their time and services to assist in the care of these birds. Dr. Bob Corona of All Pets Animal Hospital in West Babylon, Dr. Heidi Hoefer, Of West Hills Animal Hospital, in Huntington, Dr. Robert Monaco, of Old Country Animal Clinic in Plainview have all come to the aid of many birds who desperately needed medical attention.
An account was opened at a local lab that performs culture analyses on the birds bought into Parrot Haven while they are in quarantine. Many companies such as Kaytee, Pretty Bird, Brown's, Roudy Bush, Zupreem, L/M Products, Kaylor Made Products, L'Avian, Sun Seed & Scott Pet Products have all donated their products to help take care of these unfortunate birds. Hartz has even made a commitment to make a generous donation of 20 lbs. of seed each month for the next year. Dennis Cleary, of A B Seed, a vendor at the PFC monthly meetings, makes sure to donate food and toys on a monthly basis. These birds are cared for by members of the club including Diana Baker, Fran Giallorenzi, Marsha Lampert, Theresa Neal, Rey Ruiz, Mary Ann Nutter, Lana Flores, Sophie & Bob Stock. Carol Kaminski, the PFC Vice-President also takes in some of the birds into her home, when Parrot Haven reaches its' quota and just to give me a break at times.
Special thanks to my loving husband, Dennis, & my son, Michael, who are there to help with the daily cleaning of the cages and the various food products that have been thrown all over the house by these overactive birds. This is definitely a joint effort. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by the immensity of it all. I do work a full time job as a nursing assistant in the Intensive Care Unit, at a local hospital, besides being Corresponding Secretary of PFC and editor of ParrotClubs.Com, PFC's monthly newsletter.
Parrot Haven's goal is to take any bird in, no matter what the situation is, no matter the species, and find loving homes as soon as possible. If a bird is fostered, the owner signs a transportation contract, ensuring that the bird will be returned when the owner is able to resume its' care. No bird is ever kept from its' owner. Some birds will remain permanently, due to their physical or emotional disabilities, or just due to the fact that I have promised the owner that I will always keep their pet in my home. The rewards are tremendous and I have made a lot of good friends.
My next goal is to expand the Parrot Haven, by building an extension, to be able to keep the birds on the main floor of my home, so they can have easy access to be able to go outdoors to enjoy the fresh air, complete with skylights and windows to allow plenty of light in. I don't like the idea of keeping the birds in the basement, so I have a pair of lovebirds, greys, 2 pairs of conures in my living room, along with the greenwing in my dining room. At present there are about 15 residents, along with my own assortment of 25 macaws, amazons, and cockatoos. It gets noisy & crowded at times, but there's nothing like a little body who comes crawling off his cage, sliding down the legs, running over to the couch and crawling into your lap and saying," Hello." There is a sincere satisfaction caring for these beautiful creatures.
Go to WWW.PARROTCLUBS.COM, and then click onto Parrot Haven and read detailed information about all the residents and how they came to be in the Parrot Haven. There is also have a listing of other avian rescue organizations, by state, so that others interested in adopting may find a sanctuary in their area. All prospective adoptive parents must make arrangements to personally pick up their bird. No birds are shipped by air. Too many problems could occur traveling by airplane, such as missed flights or leaving a starving bird on a heated tarmac.
Presently, I am seeking the assistance of a surveyor and an architect so that I can submit updated plans to the town so that I can begin renovations. My husband is a carpenter, so between the two of us, we have renovated a large portion of the house ourselves, to accommodate the birds and will continue to upgrade for them.
Special thanks to Myra Markley of the First Internet Bird Club, (www.Bird-Club.Org) who has helped us tremendously by using her skills as a webmaster in creating ParrotClubs.Com and allowing viewers to be aware of the Parrot Haven.
If anyone on Long Island would like to offer any services, or building materials, please remember that all donations are tax deductible and would be greatly appreciated.
An update: Just got another call. An emergency situation. 3 blue & golds need a foster home immediately. They will be arriving tomorrow. Thank God Dennis and I just renovated part of the basement, laying a new tile floor and setting up a macaw cage, donated by one of the members. Didn't take long at all to be put it into use.