parrot sanctuaries

All posts in the parrot sanctuaries category

Parrot Life

Published March 21, 2017 by sarcasmica

Birds were never in my plan. Animals, yes, birds specifically, notsomuch.

My “life plan” (chuckle chuckle chuckle) was to flounder in community college for a little while before sticking with the sign language interpreter program. Once I mastered that, I would go to Moorpark College in Simi Valley, CA and work as an interpreter while simultaneously studying in their exotic animal training and management program. In order to study in the program, you also have to work at the college zoo. The only block I had was how to get through all the bug stuff. I hate bugs. HATE. I can appreciate their role in an ecosystem and yes I understand how important they are blah blah blah, but handling them?! No.

Blech. I can’t.

Anyway, I got as far as my interpreter program. I didn’t even complete that. See, my step mother was the interpreter coordinator for the campus in addition to a teacher in the department. (That is how she and my dad met and later married) My last semester I had a class that is only offered once/year at only one time. I was at the end of my last semester in the three year program when my dad died. Being as how I was the only offspring of either side to help my stepmother make arrangements, get through the awful tragedy, and deal with the hurricane of tedium you have to deal with when a loved one dies, school suffered a bit. I still made it to my final roughly a week after the funeral… the funeral my teacher for the same class attended along with most of the department and all my past and present instructors.

Guess who failed the class? Yup. Moi. I wasn’t expecting a free pass, I wasn’t expecting an A, but can you really not help someone out in that scenario? Really?! Can you honestly not offer some kind of counseling on the side or advice? Just F, done, buh bye, sorry for your loss.

Anyway, I was bitter after this happened, naturally. I also was connected through my step mother with my first signing job in Irvine at a high school. I moved to Irvine and could not manage the 2 hour rush hour commute for the one hour class back in Torrance, either. I just let it go.

Anyway, that job and that city led me to Arizona and another job and then got married and had a kid and life and yada yada yada. Long story short, I never made it to Moorpark College.

In my early 20’s while still in school, a friend of mine was a manager at Petco. She offered me a job as a Bird Specialist and I’d be in charge of the department – ordering, feeding the babies, caring for the cages and animals, stocking, etc etc. I took it knowing any knowledge needed I’d have to research myself since they do not have any sort of extensive training for this. I loved it. It was sad – seeing the state they were delivered in from breeders – but it was also gratifying – being able to educate people on a pet. I was absolutely astounded at how many grown people have a fear of birds. Kids would readily go into the bird room while their parents stood outside shaking their heads and twitching at the thought of wings coming at their face. (a common fear, apparently)

Anyway, I suppose that’s where the seed was planted. Ironically twenty years later I’m working the other side of the pet industry. It’s exactly opposite, actually, right down to me volunteering and not getting paid to care for the birds that people could not for a million and eighteen reasons commit a lifetime to. It’s so rewarding that there’s about 65 volunteers that the sanctuary heavily relies on for feeding/cleaning/food prep/grooming. I’m always impressed with the volunteers that balance this work with a paying full time gig. There are students, retirees, unemployed (moi) but we all, I think, look forward to our time there helping out.

Everyone has their niche. Some people like the cage work; cleaning and feeding. Some people like the massive open flight area. Some like the rooms and some don’t even interact with the birds. They handle food only. My happy place is the room. I have one room where I’ve learned about 70% of the birds names and know them fairly well. I don’t handle many because, quite frankly, I’ve seen enough bites to not be excited by that happening. I’ve had only one bad bite that’s left a scar, but like most stories of bites it was my own fault. I took a bird out and she didn’t want to return to the room when I needed her to. Instead of getting a perch, I kept insisting she step up on my arm and after repeatedly pushing back with her beak, she finally gave me a good clear chomp. … then I got the perch. Duh.

Funny enough two of my favorite birds reside in rooms completely different than my favorite. I don’t hold it against them, though 🙂

Anyway, I don’t know if I’ll ever get to fulfill my wish of actually working and interacting with wild exotic animals for a job, but truthfully my kids and these crazy parrots seem to be filling my heart. So while I figure it out, I’ll just keep taking pictures and hope people enjoy them.










Junior (i think)





Post Fair Wrap Up

Published December 11, 2016 by sarcasmica

So I did the fair. It’s done. Here’s the run down

I got up and got out the door at a decent hour. After spending far too long getting my happy juice at the local Mercury Coffee, I jauntily headed to set up my craft fair “booth”. (table in a corner near a stack of chairs)

Getting set up was weird. I walked into a flurry of craft fair pros with signage and table organizers and decorative table cloths all being tossed about. I sheepishly lugged my oversized Amazon box to the table and began prepping.

All I had to do was hang some command strips and put the wreaths on the wall. I did have some pictures and info on the sanctuary and a frame that showed a perpetual slideshow of pictures i’ve taken of the birds …  a sort of “who’s who” at the sanctuary.

I don’t know what I expected. …. scratch that. I expected the old “OPEN OPEN OPEN” commercial outside the doors. I expected a stampede when the clock hit 11. I expected more.

To put it into perspective, I have a real issue with expectations. I know when they are clearly out of whack with reality, but that seems to not make a difference to my lizard brain. I expect what  I expect and if something shouldn’t or can’t meet those expectations, well they better figure it out… stat!!

8 vendors in the first holiday craft fair at a new business in the corner of a shopping center on a busy street on a rainy Sunday afternoon during a Seattle Seahawks game.

Sarcasmica Reality:
Convention Center in the middle of the holiday rush


I was quite obviously the new kid on the fair block for many reasons. The first glaringly obvious reason was my hopeful face whenever the business doors opened. The second was the accepted dollar store plastic/cellophane-esque table cloth beneath my wares.

I had 9 wreaths displayed on the wall behind me. On the table in front were the hair clips/pins I had made in a frantic glue gun panic that I would quickly run out of options for my buyers. I also had a print out of my contact info and social media account names and some small odds and ends to peruse or purchase.

It was pretty sparse, but I thought acceptable. I had my little cooler handy and my phone charger because  – hello? sales! My little square strip reader was firmly embedded in my phone and I was set to impress myself.

The ladies that surrounded me had a much more muted outlook. They were all very nice ladies but were all obvious veterans of the cut throat crafting world. The glue gun burns, the home made jewelry piercings, the sewers wrist guards. It was a majestic site of bored retirees and housewives.

The clock struck 11! … and then 12, and then 1. .. we had maybe three people walk through during that time.
… maybe.

(My View for 90% of the day)
I was desperate! Everyone came into the small party room crammed with tables with their heads down looking at the items. My shit hung behind me on a wall well above table-level. I actually had to make a sign after the first two walked in and I had to actually Vanna White the wreaths behind my shoulders. -\_O_/-

One person actually jumped when they looked up.

The business owner felt bad about the turnout, so she ordered sandwiches for us “all”. (Did I mention there were only 8 of us?)

The vendor beside me had a raffle entry option. The host of the event also promised “hourly drawings”. By hour number 3 they were begging the vendors to toss their names into the boxes just to make it semi legit.

If it weren’t for the vendors buying each others items, I don’t know that anyone would have broken even. The bath bomb lady was the only one making a dent in her profit margin and that was because she had her precocious 10 year old gymnast daughter bouncing around pushing lots of the items.

A vendor near me had a friend drop by early on. She kept passing by me and “Ooohing” and “Wow”ing and complimenting my wreaths. By the third pass and the equal number of “Those really are beautiful”s I finally said, “You know, they’re for sale 🙂  ”

Everyone chuckled. I was proud for not letting the chip on my shoulder dance on the table when I said it.

By 4pm the bath bomb vendor called in a favor and a friend came down to check it all out. After about 30 minutes of chatting and perusing someone at another booth said, “You know I take cards, right?” to which we all immediately popped up and chimed in like hungry meerkats “Me too!” “Over here!” “We do too!”

This guy literally went around to each table that offered a card reader and bought something. That was my one sale today.

Unfortunately since I’m such a NOOB at this, I did not properly set up my Square reader and it was still in “demo mode” when I ran the card. I was immediately notified a sort of “Thank you, you have now completed your tutorial and the amount will be credited back to your account!”

To which I frantically began trying to undo the damage. We’ll see if it actually sticks.

The whole thing left me feeling confused, humbled, dejected, and frustrated. Driving home I was full of, “I can’t believe I spent money on that!” and “What the hell was the point?!” and “What a waste of time!”

As I pulled into my driveway with the impending deflation of facing my kids after failing, I realized I needed to pull it together. This was a learning experience and a teaching moment. I tried something new and scary. I did it on my own and I put myself and something that is pretty personal out there for strangers to weigh and judge. It didn’t work, but not because I didn’t do my best.

Later that night my son was having a really hard time with a plan his dad made with him changing. It was a fairly large plan that my son had to forgo something important with the promise he’d get it later… later never came. I sat with him and told him how I understand frustration and disappointment and feeling angry when something you hoped for and expected doesn’t happen. I sat and waited for my expectation to be met for 7 hours today. I was proud of the one sale that I did, and  I appreciated it, but it was not at all what I had expected to happen. I had to come home and get beyond my frustration and disappointment so I could find some enjoyment in the time left of the day with my kids.

I think he heard me. Now I need to work on what i’m going to do next. I don’t know that i’m going to accept giving up just yet, but I sure am not going near a glue gun for at least a month.

Hey, on the upside, turns out my dreams are prophetic!

Stunned (Re: Bird Letter)

Published September 14, 2015 by sarcasmica

My post Bird Letter has received nearly a thousand views in 2 days.


(Update: 2500 in 3 days ?!?! Wow!!)

Holy crap! What this number actually means in completed views, purposeful clicking, actual interest, thoughtful consideration, I have no clue. I just know it’s actually been shared and passed around a bit and i’m so stunned and thankful for that.

My hope is that it simply starts a conversation. Begins some serious contemplation. I am not one to tell someone what to do or what not to do, but at least if I have put this out there, the person who has read it and still goes through with a transaction through a breeder has no reason not to be surprised or claim ignorance for some of the reality of bird ownership.

I would like to think I keyed a thoughtful non-judgmental post about the possibility of considering where something has originated and if a home is a good fit for these animals. I did not include clips of screaming macaws and amazons. Let me tell you, the decibel they can reach is literally deafening. At the risk of an overused word lately, the “literal” is literal.

I have been in a room where a truck drives by, a person walks past, or rain starts and the screaming squawking flapping chaos that ensues is stunning. There are a number of volunteers that have to wear ear plugs. And not because they aren’t used to birds.

I have worked down the hall from a pair of amazons that begin before the food bowls are swapped out, and don’t end until all the containers are closed up and the doors are shut. A non-stop scream that is reciprocated and answered between the two of them for sometimes over an hour. This does a number on one’s nerves, and i’m only there for a couple of hours a couple of times a week. I could not imagine waking up to that noise!

I did not include pictures of bites from all the varying beaks owned by these parrots. I have heard enough stories from the incredible volunteers I work with who have had to go back and face down the very beaks that ripped open their hands/wrists/arms requiring stitches.

It makes me want to shut my mouth when a Grey bites a bruised bump into my hand … which happened last week. I’m working through my anxiety in working with the ones you cannot ‘read’, which is 98% of them since i’m still fairly new to the sanctuary.

Those beaks can do serious damage. A Google search will prove that in .3 seconds. The bites are from pets. Trusted birds, in a lot of cases. Now imagine your toddler playing with the family bird, and the possibility of this happening. They do not have a way of telling you something is ‘off’, they only have their instinctual behavior.

Thank you to anyone who appreciated my point of view, and I hope it made a difference.

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