Angel Wings A monthly journal for human angels who make a positive difference in companion birds' lives.
A monthly journal for human angels who make a positive difference in companion birds' lives.
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Margot O. from New York
Chelsea A. from Oregon
PTA 3rd Anniversary Sale
20% off any product on the ParrotNutz Site
Breads & Muffins
When ordering, mention "PTA Anniversary" for discount
Click Here to order
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Limited Time Only! The time has come...
The time has come...
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1072 Toys Donated
July 26, 2008
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Area Bird Folks
Saturday, August 9, 2008 Parrot Toy Angels will have a table at Todd Marcus Birds Exotic for their all day 25th Anniversary Bash at 1060 S. Chester Avenue, Route 130 S, Delran, NJ. It will be a fun-filled family day with food, activities, prizes and more. Parrot Toy Angels will be there with our SS foot toy buckets filled with PTA footers, a raffle, samples of one of the recipes from our soon to be available PTA Cookbook and PTA's fantastic custom Christmas Stockings. Be sure to stop by and show your support for PTA!
Go to www.thebirdstore.com for details and directions.
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2/3 Cup Dried Fruit (2 or more different fruits/berries)
Preheat oven to 300F. Thrown everything in a food processor or blender. Mix until it forms a ball. Add a little water or unsweetened juice if too dry. Add more oatmeal if too wet. Form into balls and bake for approximately 20 minutes. Baking time varies depending on the size of the balls.
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Happy 3rd Anniversary Parrot Toy Angels!!
How PTA Was Hatched
By Sue Christie-Cox
Here we are again, another year older and if you all gather 'round I will tell you the story of Cassie and the Parrot Toy Angels.
This is the story of 1 little bird and how she opened the hearts of many people all over the world and how Parrot Toy Angels was "hatched".
Cassie is a Goffins Cockatoo. For those who aren't familiar with a Goffins they are towards the smaller scale of the members of the cockatoo family, averaging around 12 - 13" in length. The feathers are predominantly white, with pale yellow on the underside of the wings and tail, pink lores, and a beautiful salmon-colored tinge to the base of the head and neck feathers. They are a playful, intelligent bird, with an inquisitive nature, which reminds me of a happy two-year-old child.
Unfortunately, when Cassie was discovered she was nothing like the description above. Found in a tiny, dirty cage in someone's basement, Cassie had been badly neglected and cage-bound for 5 years. Andrea, who now is Cassie's proud Mum says "What greeted me was a badly plucked, naked, dirty, musty smelling, abused little girl. It took all of two minutes to fall totally in love with her. Cassie came straight to me".
Andrea was a member of a Yahoo group, CheepParrotToysNTips, and she posted Cassie's story asking for advice on toys that Goffins enjoyed. Andrea's obvious love for this little bird inspired a couple of members to start a group, Parrot Toy Angels, a different type of group, this was to be a group for "Angels".
These Angels are certainly not your average Angels; there is not a halo to be seen, but a few think they still might have one that they turned into a bird toy using jute and pony beads. Nor will very many of them ever meet, as they are spread far and wide; the members of this very special group are here to help birds in difficult times.
Parrot Toy Angels is an all-volunteer organization committed to providing toys, food and other avian supplies to companion birds in difficult situations. Life-altering changes, natural disasters or an organization's lack of funding all can have a negative emotional and physical impact on both birds and companion caregivers alike. Angel Projects help ease the burden for the generous individuals and organizations that provide safe havens for birds in need.
The first box of toys from the Angels was made by Nancy Goulding and sent to Cassie. Andrea says, "Watching her play made me think she had never had toys before. I can't tell you how heart-warming it is to know there are people in this world who care enough, and what an honor it is to be a part of this group".
Ilona, one of the founding members of PTA has said of birds "Our love for them extends well beyond our own homes, and because of them, we have opened our hearts to birds we will never meet, never see. Yet we know that because of us, one bird at a time will lead a happier life".
2006 was a very rewarding year for PTA, with donations of over 2659 toys to 22 organizations and individuals, and obtaining GuideStar Certified 501(c)3 Charity Status. 2007 ended with 15 projects completed and over 3,000 toys donated. Since August 6, 2005 PTA has donated 8058 toys to 64+ different organizations and individuals.
2007-8 was a little different for the Angels. Our committees have increased and new Angels are helping with great fundraising and recipe ideas. Our Safety Committee has gone from strength to strength always ensuring that all "Project Toys" are the safest possible. The Newsletter Committee members are still working away and the release of our first ever toy making CD is scheduled for later this year. Some Angels have left us and others have joined us but as always Parrot Toy Angels are working towards the one common goal....Making a difference, one bird at a time.
With Angels from Canada to Australia and numbering 60 there is always room for more Angels. If you'd like to find out more about the Angels go to Parrot Toy Angels. To see some of our "Project" pictures, click here.
There will always be little birds like Cassie, unfortunately. But with the Parrot Toy Angels around to help out with busy fingers and open hearts, hopefully, they soon will also feel the love of an "Angel".
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Have these stories got your toymaking talons twitching? Do you want to help make a difference in somebirdie's life? Come join our ranks! We have angels from all different backgrounds and walks of life, and there's always room for another generous heart.
CONGRATULATIONS Go Out to Angel Verna!! Verna was the winner of the Angel Tiara for making the most toys, 158, for
Mickaboo Companion Parrot Rescue
in San Jose, CA.
Verna was also lucky enough to be able to fly to California from Massachusetts and join Angels Ilona and Bonnie for the Mickaboo Angel Delivery on July 26, 2008. Here's what Verna has to say about the delivery:
I stood there speechless as all these toys came out of the boxes. Ilona and I were hugging each other and crying. I couldn't help myself. We see pictures of the toys, but unless you see them in person you really can't get a grasp on the work our Angels put into the making of the project toys.
The operations manager of Mickaboo is a Newton, MA native and she and I spent a lot of time hugging and crying with her thanking me over and over. Saying 'how glad she came to see for herself, because she would have never been able to grasp what she was seeing with someone just telling her'. I think I was more overwhelmed than the volunteers. We were told later that no one had ever seen her laugh and smile so much. I have never in 3 years been so proud to be an Angel. People kept coming up to Bonnie, Ilona and me to say no words could thank us enough for what we had done. They knew we were coming but had no idea of how much we were bringing.
I'm not really good with words but I wish every Angel could have the opportunity to make a delivery like this. It is so hard to describe the feelings you have seeing the toys in person, and seeing the total joy on the faces of the people who care for these birds.
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From the Perch of Sir Scrabble Babble
Spinach and chard are nutritious vegetables, and can be fed in small amounts as part of a healthy, well balanced diet. If fed every day, serious health problems could occur, so only feed them in moderation.
In regards to hormonal behaviors, in My Mommy's and other Timmy slaves' experience, males are more likely to been aggressive during hormonal times than females.
I apologize for the confusion, and now know I must properly supervise my human subjects (cultured chuckle).
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Converting to a Healthy Diet
By Lori M. Nelsen
We all want our birds to eat well in order to be healthy, but what is a healthy diet? Certified avian vets all seem to agree: parrots need a varied diet. Despite pet food manufacturer's claims, there is no such thing as a "total diet" for a parrot, be it pellets or seed based mixtures. A healthy parrot diet must include fresh live foods such as vegetables, greens, fruit, and proteins (2 parts sprouted grains to 1 part sprouted legumes) along with Essential Fatty Acids and healthy natural green supplements. Formulated diets or pellets are a handy shortcut to a varied diet but are not the miracle food that the manufacturer's claim. The recommended use by many vets and breeders is less than 20% leaving the rest of the diet for fresh live foods. There is no substitute for the vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that occur in fresh foods. Some veterinarians have attributed 80% or more of all avian illness to dietary related causes. Any time and effort spent converting your bird to a good, healthy diet will come back to you in beautiful feathers, long life, great disposition and in hard earned dollars not used at the vets.
Parrots tend to eat twice daily – a morning and a late afternoon meal with a bit of grazing during the day. They are also social eaters, and are happiest when their human and avian family eats together. These two facts can be used to your advantage when trying to get the bird to develop healthier eating habits. I feed three times a day. I feed a mash diet in the morning and also, the rest of the mash plus extras in the late afternoon (pasta, chunks of fruit, pieces of veggies). I feed a few nuts and seeds and maybe a couple of pellets before bedtime.
The generally accepted procedure for switching a bird's diet is the gradual transition method. Measure what your bird normally eats and take away a small bit of it, adding fresh mash in its place. Feed immediately in the morning when your parrots are the hungriest and are more willing to accept the change in diet. Over time, sometimes a long time, the amount of mash is increased until your parrot is eating mostly the mash diet. This conversion can not be about wasting food, it is about getting them to touch and taste the new diet.
Make up the mash diet and mix the mash into the preferred diet of your parrot so that they are well coated. You can then put one or two dry pellets on top and sprinkle just a tiny bit of their favorite seed on top too. The mash diet I use consists of approximately 45% sprouted or soaked grains and fully sprouted or cooked legumes (2 parts grains to 1 part legumes). The rest of the mash consists of 50% green leafy vegetables, green vegetables, orange and red vegetables, a small amount of fruit (usually berries) and some extras such as ginger, garlic, egg, or yogurt. The last 5%: nuts, coconut, pasta, etc. All of my mash diet is run through the food processor adding my natural green supplements and EFAs so there is "no picking and choosing".
During this conversion time, pay careful attention to the weight of your bird. This transition can take months or even years with some parrots. A good gram scale is invaluable at this time. A weight loss of 10% can mean trouble.
Leaving a bowl of food in the cage overnight for the larger parrots can contribute to picky eaters. You may want to leave food for the little ones as their little bodies use their food energy quickly.
Although the littles: finches, canaries, cockatiels, budgerigars and other grass parakeets do eat a higher percentage of seed, these are usually germinating seeds or green seeds still on the plant and not yet ready for dispersal. Both have a higher nutritional content than the seed mixes commercially available. Their conversion to a healthier diet includes freshly sprouted grains and legumes with a bit of minced veggies and bouquet of greens or the same mash as the larger parrots with more seeds and sprouts.
Sometimes conversion can be attained easily by spreading some food on a tabletop and letting them forage while encouraging them to eat - try tapping your fingers round the food on the table too, to get their attention to the food. If you taste their food and make yummy noises-they can hardly resist. You can also place some healthy mash on the edge of your plate so they think they are stealing your food or let them help you prepare it.
Parrots are a nosey bunch. Their curiosity will get the better of them, eventually, and they will taste it. One day soon, you will see tails up when it is breakfast time. Or if you have a goof-ball like my Gonzo hollering at the birds in the feeder, at his window to "EAT YOUR SUPPER" while he is tails up and head down in his bowl (peeking to see if they are listening).
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Ring My Bell
There are certain toys my birds are allowed to play with only under supervision. One such toy is a plastic ball with a plastic bell inside. I presented my cockatoo with such a ball to keep her occupied. I kept a watchful eye in case a toe were to get caught inside. For several hours Haley Deja'Too was mesmerized. She'd shake the ball while eyeballing the bell inside, as only a cockatoo can do. Gently and patiently she tried and tried to get that little bell out. I was quite impressed with her perseverance when in true cockatoo form, CHOMP! Out fell the bell, and as she turned her head in the opposite direction her extendable 'too leg stretched as far away from her body as possible. She dropped what was left of the ball and waddled off laughing that maniacal cockatoo laugh. Cockatoo Lesson: When in doubt, CHOMP!
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Is YOUR Bird Special?
By Regina M. Jankowski
Merriam-Webster defines special as "distinguished by some unusual quality; being in some way superior; held in particular esteem; readily distinguished from others of the same category; being other than the usual; designed for a particular purpose or occasion". Sounds like all our birds are special, but that's not the "special" I was referring to.
This past week has had me thinking about a different, more extraordinary type of special bird. Special Needs Birds. I'm sure we've all heard of them. I've met a few in my day and there are always an abundance waiting for their forever home to come and adopt them. We have a few Angels here at Parrot Toy Angels that have Special Needs Birds. In the descriptions they share in this and future Angel Wings Newsletters, you will learn that a physical handicap does not make them special. That's not it at all. It's their amazing ability to overcome what we would view as a deformity and (as the definition clearly states) become in some way superior. The special Angels that care for them and see them as the beautiful, whole, perfect beings they are can be held in the same category.
Special Needs Birds are sometimes hatched within their different way of life, some are a result of an accident or abuse, and some inflict it upon themselves. These birds have conditions that range from splayed legs, deformed wings or claws, partial beaks, blindness, missing limbs, and self-mutilation to name a few. All of these birds need special considerations. Some need different types of food, types of perches, toys, etc. Self-mutilated birds can easily scrape or chew their unprotected and sensitive skin open and get a deadly infection.
I guess the most important thing to think about is you. Are you the kind of person who has a heart big enough to consider one of these amazing birds as part of your family? Are you able to afford more frequent vet bills and visits? Can you safely accommodate a bird that has different needs than what you are used to? Most importantly, can you look into those beautiful and loving eyes and return that unconditional love, seeing only the perfect creature before you?
In this issue of Angel Wings you will get to meet just one of our Angels who fits the bill (or beak!) perfectly. You will have an amazing opportunity to learn how some of our Angels care for their "special" birds and how these birds return the favor. If you are filled with curiosity, please do as I did. Browse the website of your local Avian Rescue and see how amazed you are at the incredible creatures in need of your love.
Merriam-Webster sure had one thing right. These birds were designed for a particular purpose or occasion. What they have to offer greatly out-weighs what they may be missing in the eyes of so many others. Be sure to read these amazing stories as our Angels submit them and decide for yourself: who rescued whom?
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What's Cookin' with the Cookbook Committee?|
By Stacey Baker and Elizabeth Cirrotti
"Polly Wants More Than A Cracker...A Parrot Owners Cookbook" is going to press soon!
The Cookbook committee was formed to create a cookbook to help Parrot Toy Angels continue its mission of "making a difference, one bird at a time".
The committee has worked diligently to provide recipes, hints, and ideas that will help "newbie" chefs, as well as those with more experience. We are hopeful that the cookbook will serve as a guide to birdie chefs everywhere, and help them realize that cooking for their feathered friends does not have to be difficult, and is actually a lot of fun!
Recipes from salads to cooked foods and breakfasts to snacks will be included in the book. Useful tips, such as fid-friendly flours, oils and sweeteners will help take the guess work out of cooking for birds.
Recipes have been collected, tips have been compiled and a name has been voted on. We are working on editing and proofreading, so the book can be sent to the printing company.
Watch for announcements upon the release of the cookbook! They will be available through the PTA website. If you are interested in helping sell the cookbooks (to bird clubs in your area, vet's offices etc.), please contact us. Pre-orders being taken also.
By Susan Kesler,
Safety Committee Chairwoman
I was visiting the hardware store this afternoon and wandered down the rope isle. WOW! There are so many different types of rope, it's enough to make your head spin. Ropes for towing, ropes for lifting, ropes for jumping, even ropes for hanging your laundry.
Today I would like to touch on the difference between bird safe Paulie Rope, (also known as Polly Rope, and Poli Bird Toy Rope) and the poly (polypropylene) or nylon rope you buy at the hardware store. Paulie (Poli, Polly) rope is specially made with bird safety in mind. Paulie (Poli, Polly) rope is made with a special diamond weave so that it frays very little and will not unravel. This rope cannot be found in any hardware store and to the best of my knowledge can only be purchased from shops that sell bird toy making supplies. Poly and nylon ropes generally sold in stores are usually braided and can unravel into long strands that bird legs, wings and heads can get tangled in, which may lead to serious injury and death.
So, parronts play it safe and use only the Paulie rope made just for the birds.
Emmi Baker, "Special Parrotlet"
By Sammi Baker, Sr. Angel
When Emmi was turned into a small animal rescue to be put up for adoption, she was a plucked, pitiful parrotlet. We didn't even know her name. When my mom said we were going to foster her, I was so excited! I asked if she could stay in my room. I was thrilled she said okay. We were worried that my dad would say 'no' to another bird, even though she would really be a foster bird. He really liked her, and said 'yes'.
The night she came to my house, I reorganized and cleaned her cage, and just talked to her. I wanted her to feel comfortable. We weren't sure if she was a boy or a girl, so I thought of names for both. Emeral was the name I picked for the boy. When we found out that she was a girl, I shortened the name to Emmi. We took her to the vet to get some tests done to make sure she wasn't sick. While we were there, the vet told us that she was not eight, as her former owner told us, she is really eleven...just like me!
I made sure Emmi had lots of toys and her favorite treats. I was hoping she would stop plucking, but I loved her anyway. She really enjoys her shredder toy, toys with mirrors or bells, and especially toys that clank. I moved the toys around her cage to keep her busy. Every day when I did my homework, Emmi helped me, while hopping around my bed, and sitting on my shoulder. Playing with Emmi was more fun than doing my homework. I even taught her how to give kisses!
I read as much as I could and another Parrot Toy Angel, Elizabeth, helped answer my questions and gave advice. I got Emmi on a diet of seeds, sprouts, mash, fruits and vegetables, Pro-Grow Birdie bread, and her favorite treat, millet. She really likes to eat!
Days and weeks went by and it was almost my birthday. I was telling my mom what I wanted for my birthday and she said "a little green bird called Emmi?" She gave me a hard decision of keeping her or adopting her out. I made up my mind, I wanted to keep her because she seemed to be so happy here and I already loved her.
I started to write this article because Emmi was a special needs parrotlet, but in the last few weeks something extraordinary happened! She sprouted tons of pinfeathers everywhere she was plucked. My mom spritzed her, so she wouldn't get mad at me. Before we knew it, those pinfeathers opened up and Emmi's feathers are beautiful and full! She has pinfeathers on her head, even though she wasn't plucked there.
I don't know why Emmi's feathers came in all at once, but I am happy they did. I don't know if she will leave them in, but she has so far and it has been about two weeks. I am giving her lots of extra time out of her cage. She plays with everyone, but I think I'm her favorite. I'm still giving her toys and making sure she eats lots of different things. I love Emmi the same whether she is plucked or feathered, but she sure does look pretty with her emerald feathers!
Sammi and Emmi, Best Friends
...On Being An Angel...
Daulton V., Jr. Angel shares "It's an amazing feeling being in the Parrot Toy Angels because every toy goes to a homeless or abused bird. Just the fact I'm helping a bird makes my heart swell up with pride and joy. Everything we do helps a bird. That's why I'm proud to be a Parrot Toy Angel.
Delta, Canadian Angel says "I have been a Parrot Toy Angel for three years now. Time sure passes quickly. I joined PTA because of my love of the fids. I have many rescues and rehomes but reality knows I cannot save them all. By being a PTA member, I am able to participate in helping those whom I cannot house and give physical love to. I knew this group would be a great one and has grown over the three years I've been a member. I hope it continues to grow as time goes on and many more birds receive the generous donations that this group can provide. I am very proud to be an "Angel".
JeanO, Alabama Angel shares "It is no exaggeration to say that being a member of Parrot Toy Angels for the past three years has enriched my life. We all want to make our world a better place by "giving back" in whatever way we can and Parrot Toy Angels allows us to do that in a fun and creative way. I want to thank the founders for coming up with such a unique idea. I'm proud to be associated with such a talented, fun-loving, sassy bunch of Angels.
Sue CC, Australian Angel says "It seems so long ago that I was invited to join PTA. I still have the email welcoming me from Ilona, dated Monday 8/08/05 1:32PM. I am really proud of being asked. I used to feel a long way away and that I wasn't really a contributing member, a "real" Angel until recently when I became Chair of the Newsletter committee. I love being an Angel, it does make me smile when I read delivery stories. I love the friendships and the way so many people who may never meet each other care so deeply about each other, and I love to know that somewhere, out there in a far away place, I have friends who feel exactly the way I do.
Catherine, Canadian Angel shares "I'm just proud to be an Angel. Not only do we make toys for birds, we help people. We show them how much we care and appreciate what they do every single day. I truly believe our toys are very important for them. By donating our toys we're telling these caretakers they are important and we are grateful they do such a wonderful job taking care of the birds. I can't even begin to describe the joy I feel seeing these birds enjoy the toys we've donated.
ParrotNutz, Jersey Angel says "As an "original" Parrot Toy Angel I joined PTA right from the start because I liked the idea of "Paying It Forward". The happiness my parrots have brought me is immeasurable. By donating parrot food I feel I'm spreading the joy and also "paying it forward".
Wyspur, Minnesota Angel shares "When asked what it means to be an Angel, I was inspired to write a few words. Being an Angel with PTA is truly a privilege. I have never been with a group of people who are in fact a family of volunteers working as a team to make PTA operate with effortless hard work, commitment and dedication. This PTA family has many members working together making toys, doing research, fund raising, toy deliveries and much more. We laugh, cry and care about one another in a heartfelt way. We all have the same drive to make a difference in a needy bird's life and bring joy into the lives of those who care for them. I am honored to be a part of this wonderful organization and to have met some of the most amazing people in the world. Thank you for having me here with you all.
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...On Being Touched by An Angel...
We so often deal with the sad side of bird relinquishment so it was a tremendous uplift to all of us to share in the wealth of caring provided us by Parrot Toy Angels. The enrichment and activity from which the contribution from PTA has benefited our flock is beyond measure. Julie Weiss Murad, The Gabriel Foundation
To all of the friends and volunteers of the Parrot Toy Angels, we offer you our unwavering gratitude and admiration for an organization that cannot be equaled in the world of pet rescue and sanctuary. Venette and Dan Hill, The Lily Sanctuary
It was like bird Christmas here! I was so amazed, and still am, that people will take their time and money to make toys for rescue birds. What a glorious idea! God was certainly in somebody's head! Jo Gore, BirdLove Avian Sanctuary
When the Angora Fire required 3,000 people to evacuate their destroyed or threatened homes, we had no idea how many families included birds. Your immediate response with toys, networking and actually driving to Tahoe (twice!) with special cages is a gift this community always will treasure. Dawn Armstrong, Lake Tahoe Humane Society
We opened these red packages for well over an hour. The Parrot Toy Angels are truly Angels. Our birds are content and quiet. There is no favorite toy, they love them all. There are no words to really express our feelings. I must say that I cried and I don't cry easily. Linda LaDuke, Capital District Cage Bird Club
We were certainly not prepared for the enormous amount and beautiful array of wonderful bird toys we received. We had no idea there would be so many unique and interesting toys. It was like a huge Christmas Party for the birds. Tim Lacy, Healthipet Network
I can't thank all of you enough for what you did. You brought back my faith in my fellow people. You make me realize that there are good people out there. Debi Tullier, Hurricane Katrina Survivor
We are quite accustomed to being in the position of giving, but not nearly as used to receiving, so we are nearly at a loss for words and THAT is saying something!! From the bottom of our birdie lovin' hearts we thank you. There are lots of happy babies here and have you to thank for that. Jackie, Randy and Zach Schoneck, A Place 2 Fledge
I feel I have been blessed and I am humbled by the selfless generosity shown by all you Angels. When the time comes that my life's path is a bit smoother, I would be honored to be a part of your group and to call myself a "Parrot Toy Angel". Lisa Koselke
Thank you so much for your generosity and that of your group Parrot Toy Angels. It's a wonderful idea. All the toys we received were a hit! Dana Smith, 'Too Haven
Tom and I are just overwhelmed by the generosity of Parrot Toy Angels. Each toy is so well suited to one or more of our foster flock. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Tom and Ruth Ann La Rue, Foster Care Center for The Oasis Sanctuary
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On Being An Angel|
By Susan Kesler
I learned about Parrot Toy Angels through a Yahoo Group for parrot owners sharing ideas for making inexpensive, safe bird toys. When I heard about what they do, I said to myself, "What a wonderful thing!", and let it go at that.
A week or so later I got a call that a bird needed a home immediately or it would be given to a parrot rescue. A parrot rescue? I didn't even know there were such places. I brought the little macaw home. A few days later I brought home an abused parrot. Now I knew why rescue organizations were needed. I looked into it and found that there were hundreds of unwanted birds being relinquished to sanctuaries and rescues. My heart broke reading the stories. I could only take so many unwanted feathered angels, but what else could I do? Then I remembered Parrot Toy Angels.
I went to their site and read more about what they do and decided I wanted to join this wonderful group of people to do what little I could to help. My application was accepted and it changed my life. The stories of these unwanted, unloved creatures still make me cry, but now there is something I can do to make a difference! I am proud to be a small part of a group that does so much for so many!
Susan, proud to be a Parrot Toy Angel.
Don't forget you can help PTA by clicking one of the following buttons:
Make sure to specify "Parrot Toy Angels"
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By Father Don Scott
The Chloe Sanctuary
Her Daddy loved her more than anyone will ever know. He fed her special cooked foods, played with her, gave her undivided attention and love. The world she knew was a string of days that shimmered in the light of her Daddy's love. There were others in her life but none to compare to him.
Then Daddy got ill. Suddenly he was gone and her world ended. Far from her in a hospital bed George asked his wife Mary to take care of Corazon. Mary knew little about caring for Salmon Crested Cockatoos. Although she had lived in the same house with Corazon for over ten years they had spent little time together. George took his wife's hand and begged her to care for his baby. Mary agreed. Her husband's heart was failing and he loved that bird so much. She swore she would never give her away. She kept that promise for two years.
Mary knew no one else that had a parrot. Her world had turned upside down when George died and she wanted badly to reach out to Corazon; she felt she was part of George. He had loved her so much. She tried to make contact but the bird was unwilling. When Mary opened the cage door to feed her and give her water Corazon stayed in the back of the cage and watched her with wary eyes. No words that fell from Mary's mouth made any difference. Corazon stayed on the farthest perch from her.
Corazon, who had rarely been loud during the day, squawked and squawked. No matter how much Mary spoke softly to her Corazon would rarely quiet down. The noise began to drive Mary crazy. The sound of her husband's bird crying out all day was horrible.
One day, Mary tried to reach back to touch Corazon. Corazon had made a stabbing motion with her beak at Mary's hand. She drew her hand back in fear. That was the last time that Mary tried to touch George's baby.
She felt like a failure. Yet, she had given her word to George that she would keep her and care for her. That was when she moved Corazon's cage out of the living room and into the extra bedroom. Once a day she went in to that room to clean the cage and give her food and water. The sound of Corazon's cries were muffled by the closed door but they were still loud. In time, Mary closed the drapes in the room and Corazon's cries eventually came to an end.
Two years passed. Corazon sat on the same perch unmoving every time Mary came to clean her cage and feed her. The single light Mary turned on when she came in was dim. Mary had stopped even looking at the bird hidden from her on the highest perch behind ancient toys. Mary hated herself but did not know what to do. A promise is a promise.
One day Mary was shocked to find Corazon bleeding and lying on the bottom of the cage. She had not looked at her in so long that she could not believe what she saw. Instead of a feathered beauty she saw a nearly naked bird. After two years in solitary confinement Corazon had lost all the feathers below the neckline. Her entire chest and legs were covered with deep scars and she was bleeding from several open wounds. Mary thought she was dead at first. Without realizing what she was doing she reached out and touched Corazon. She was warm. She was still alive.
Mary ran out of the room and called information. When she got the humane society on the line they gave her a number to call, a bird rescue. Mary spilled out what had happened in a flood of tears to Linda at the rescue. In less than an hour Linda arrived at her door.
Linda took Corazon from the cage and put her in a small carrier. She brought out the release of ownership form and Mary pushed it away.
"No!" She cried. "I promised my husband I would keep her." Tears streamed from her red eyes.
Linda spoke gravely, "I need to get her to a vet now. She needs people that understand her and can care for her, people that understand parrots. She will die if we don't help her both physically and mentally. You don't want her to die, do you?"
Mary sat down collapsed in a kitchen chair and buried her face in her hands.
"No. No. I don't want that! George loved her so. What have I done? What have I done?"
Linda hugged her.
"It's time for us to take over. Let's get her help now."
Linda put the form in front of Mary again. Mary signed it. The front door sprung open as Linda rushed to her van, placed the cage in the passenger seat, and drove off in a race to save a life. All the way there she spoke to Corazon reassuring her that everything would be ok.
The doctor treated her wounds topically with betadine solution and gave her a broad spectrum antibiotic. Test revealed that she was suffering from systemic infection due to self-mutilation. Furthermore, psychologically she was nearly catatonic, her eyes barely responded to light at all. Six hundred dollars and two hours later all the test results were in. After a rundown on the situation the vet suggested that she be taken to the sanctuary directly and placed where she would never be alone. She needed socialization more than drugs.
That is how Corazon's cage, freshly delivered from her former home, made it into the living room of the sanctuary.
When I met Corazon time had healed all but a quarter-sized scab on her stomach. After six months at the sanctuary she had stopped hurting herself. She will never have feathers below the neck line again. She no longer hides in her cage but she will not let you hold her. She will let you scratch or rub her neck. She plays with her destructible toys a little each day.
If you sit on the couch and wait she might come over and sit by you. She likes to do that. She just climbs down from her cage and waddles across the room, climbs up the couch and plops down next to you. How does it feel to be next to a half-naked bird with eyes that still look mostly like dark glass?
Honestly, I don't know. I wasn't at the sanctuary long enough to find out. I will bet it feels like heaven on earth.
This is a sad story but it has a good ending—many such stories do not turn out as well. What can we learn from it? When we take on the responsibility for a precious life we should know what we are doing. No amount of wishing to make it right can replace dedication and knowledge. What Mary did she did out of love for her husband. It is best to act only out of compassion for the bird.
This story tells much about the adoption process. When you choose to adopt from a rescue keep one thing in mind. Although the bird that chooses you might not be half-naked and glassy-eyed, you don't know how much work has gone into bringing him or her back from great sadness or sickness. Adoption isn't an easy process. Try and understand why. Each bird is a labor of love and you weren't there to see all that had to be done, all the love that has been dedicated to the bird you wish to adopt. For the rescuers it is more like giving up children than adopting out a bird.
Decided that you can't live without a bird? Are you ready to take your vows?
This vow may have a familiar ring to it:
"Do you take this companion for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health; to love and to cherish, till death us do part?"
Parrots take this vow. Will you?
Based on a true story. The names have been changed.
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