Thursday, August 14, 2008

Views From the Fair

As we mentioned in this post, one of the volunteers who was generous to help us out is Amanda Schlicher who is a professional photographer! We are so lucky to have someone so talented help us out. She takes many of the pictures that show up on our petfinder page (only the ones that look good!)

Here are some of the pictures she took last week. We're including them in a separate post since they represent what took place every day.

As we've mentioned many times, education is one of our biggest goals. We want young people to care about birds, to learn why they often don't make good companions, and to learn to properly care for the animals in their house.

Alice is an alumnus lovebird who is very gentle with children and loves the attention!

We did presentations every day, to educate people about the plight of captive parrots. Many parrots live in suboptimal conditions because very few people are willing and able to meet the nutritional, educational, environmental, and social needs of these highly complex wild animals.

A few shots of people in the stands...

We were able to discuss different behavioral and nutritional needs one-on-one with people who already own parrots. We also had some posters so that people could visually see the plucking and mutilation these majestic creatures can resort to when they are unable to handle living in captivity.Here is Katie, one of our residents, enjoying a scritch. As we've mentioned before, we make sure that the birds are enjoying themselves and we remove them from the situation if that ceases to be the case.We hope to see you at our Center, or at the Fair next year!

State Fair: Sunday 8/10/08

On the last day of the Fair, we brought:
  • Mango, 7 year old female Ducorps Cockatoo (resident)
  • Buckie, 23 year old female Mexican Redhead Amazon (resident)
  • Angel, 7 year old female Moluccan Cockatoo (adoptable)
  • Lupe, 1 year old male Quaker Parakeet (adoptable)

You may notice that we take many of the same birds several times throughout the run of the Fair. We are very sensitive to the birds' needs. There are birds whose personalities indicate that they won't enjoy a trip to the Fair. There are also birds who revel in the attention, and those are the birds who accompany us more than once. We closely monitor the birds' interactions and reactions and will take them for a rest, or even back to the Center if they are unhappy.

The last day of the Fair again was great weather and big crowds.

Our presentations were on Mango, with our posterboard of how she looked when she came in to us, and of course her "after" being in person. People were amazed at how well she healed up. Additionally, we talked about diet with Buckie (who has severe disabilities and a shortened lifespan because of previous malnutrition), showcased Angel as an excellent cockatoo pet (once again, if you're considering adding a cockatoo to your home, spend hours reading MyToos), and talked once again about Quaker Parakeets (we currently have almost 10 up for adoption).

We sold a lot of toys today - I think people waited until the last day of the Fair to purchase what they needed. We were amazed at the sales - good thing, too, a lot less to carry back. Once 6 p.m. came around, we packed up all our belongings, cleaned our area, and headed back to the shelter - until next year.

Again, the director of the barn applauded us on our professionalism and the way we handle both the birds and the crowds. We have been invited back next year and, of course, we graciously agreed to return.

Another great year at the Fair - we really were able to meet a lot of new people this year and spread the word about what we do and our knowledge of birds.

Hopefully in the next few weeks, we will have lots of new visitors at the shelter. We hope this translates into some of our adoptable birds finding good, lifelong homes.

Can't wait for the 2009 Wisconsin State Fair!

State Fair: Saturday 8/9/08

The birds at the Fair today were:
  • Peaches - 12 year old male Moluccan Cockatoo (adoptable)
  • Joey - 22 year old male U2 (our mascot)
  • Buddy - 17 year old Citron (alumnus)
  • Big Fred - 12 year old male M2 (alumnus)
  • Little Fred - 12 year old male U2 (alumnus)
  • Dolly - 8 year old female U2 (alumnus)
  • Boca - 4 year old female Bronze-Winged Pionus (alumnus)

We saw the biggest crowd yet at the Fair - could barely take a break today! Many people with many questions kept us busy all day.

The presentations were about cockatoos. One of our volunteers, C., talked about her experiences with taming down a cockatoo (Buddy) who had been living in a basement for quite some time and came to her very aggressive. She's had him for 6 months and he did great at the Fair today.

M. again told her cautionary tale about Fred getting outside and living in the trees for about a month. She did it last weekend too, but this is a story people who own birds should hear - it could happen to them at any time. These magnificent creatures rely on us to keep them safe, which means that we need to anticipate problems (such as a growing hole in a carrier) and rectify the situation before something tragic happens. Luckily Fred's story has a happy ending!

Getting the word out at the Fair helps us and the birds in many ways:

  • meeting people who had been considering buying a bird that decide to adopt one instead
  • selling our toy line (proceeds of which support the Center)
  • meeting teachers who book us in to come talk to their classes about bird care and conservation, allowing us to reach the younger generation with these important messages
  • meeting people who decide to volunteer at the Center
  • getting out the word that we exist so that in the future if someone hears about a parrot in suboptimal conditions (via a social situation, for example), they can point to us as a resource.

We get some surrenders in also, but that's okay, that's what we're here for. In an ideal world, with our focus on education, we can help to slow down the parrot rehoming cycle and perhaps put ourselves out of business! Until that happens, we persevere to try to improve the lives of captive parrots.

One more day at the Fair this year!

State Fair: Friday 8/8/08

The birds accompanying us to the Fair today were:

  • Sam - 14 year old female Quaker (alumnus)
  • Chica - 1 year old female cockatiel (adoptable)
  • Archie - 9 year old male congo african grey (adoptable)
  • Skylar - 10 year old female U2 (volunteers' bird)
  • Max - 12 year old male U2 (volunteers' bird)
  • Fergie - 10 month old male U2 (volunteers' bird)

I know I'm beginning to sound like an old record, but we had another beautiful day at the Fair. We have been so lucky this year! The crowds have been large and respectful.

Our presentations today were about how cockatiels and quakers, in the right environment, can be good family pets. Sam has some health issues that we also discussed. Additionally, one of our volunteer couples talked about what it's like living with six cockatoos and two canaries. They did an excellent job in describing what it's like to live with six "2 year olds". It was a lively and entertaining discussion. Once again, if anyone is even considering bringing a cockatoo into their home, please visit MyToos.

Again today, we were able to help some people with nutritional and behavioral problems with their birds. It is truly gratifying to have people light up when you tell them the problem isn't as bad as they think and we can help them. Most people don't want to give up, but some behavioral issues are hard to live with. That is my favorite part of the Fair - to help people keep their birds in their homes and to make it a more enjoyable atmosphere for the birds and their owners.

Two more days to go!

Friday, August 08, 2008

State Fair: Thursday 8/7/08

The birds accompanying us today were:

  • Stasch - 13 year old male Moluccan Cockatoo - volunteer's bird
  • Jill - 7 year old male Ringneck Dove - alumnus
  • Ellie - 4 year old female Iliger's Macaw - adoptable
  • Sweet Pea - 10 year old Quaker - volunteer's bird
  • Piper - 2 year old Quaker - alumnus

Again another beautiful day and the crowd was large. We met a lot of new folks who will hopefully come up and visit us at the Center in the next couple of weeks.

Our presentations today were about what wonderful pets doves can make for respectful young children and homebound people.

One of our volunteers also spoke about what great family pets Quakers can be. We told Stasch's abuse story and introduced Ellie as our adoptable bird of the day. Again, we had good crowds in the audience.

We do feel like we are making a difference as we are educating people who may not have computers or may not understand the complexities of bird ownership. We are seeing many more people with their birds on good diets and appropriate cage sizes and lots of toys to play with. We feel very privileged that we are invited year after year to join the dogs in the Animal Care Barn, to be able to tell our stories to the public, and to help educate people in the care of our feathered friends.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

State Fair: Wednesday 8/6/08

Today's birds included:

  • Lola - female U2 - age unknown - adoptable
  • Bisbee - male White Capped Pionus - 4 years old - adoptable
  • Cobalt - male BH Pionus - 4 years old - alumnus
  • Keowa - female Green Cheek Conure - 9 years old - adoptable
  • Burt - male Goffins - 25 years old - alumnus
  • Sam - male CAG - 4 years old - volunteer's bird

I know we've been saying this pretty much every day, but Wednesday was another awesome day at the Fair. The weather was perfect and the crowd was large. We sold lots of toys and bird-related articles today. The proceeds from all sales directly benefit the birds at the Center. We talked to many, many people and were able to help some with behavioral problems with their birds.

Our presentations today revolved again around abuse/neglect cases with Lola and Bisbee, the pet pros and cons of pionus, plucking with Burt, and one of our volunteers gave a little talk on Sam and how CARE helped teach her how to work with some of his phobias. Again we had good crowds and were able to speak to many people.

Again, our wood cutter/drillers came to help us at the booth - they are on vacation this week and also came to help us last Sunday. It is a pleasure to have them come down and help us out - they have pionus at home, so can talk to people about what it's like to have one as a pet.

We have had several emails coming in from people who saw us at the Fair wanting to volunteer. Our Volunteer Coordinator is handling those inquiries, and we are excited about that! This is great, as we are always in need of volunteers. If you are reading this and have five hours of time a month (or more) to spare, we'd love to have you come and volunteer. No bird experience is necessary; we will train you.

More tomorrow -- four more days for this year's State Fair!

State Fair: Tuesday 8/5/08

At the Fair today, we brought the following birds:

  • Katie - 16 year old female Moluccan Cockatoo - resident
  • Stasch - 13 year old male Moluccan Cockatoo - volunteer's bird
  • Izzy - 5 year old male Green Cheek Conure - alumnus
  • Sweet Pea - 10 year old female Quaker Parakeet - volunteer's bird
  • Piper - 2 year old female Quaker Parakeet - alumnus
  • Alice - 7 year old female Lovebird - alumnus

We had a great time at the Fair today! We were very busy all day long talking with people about birds -- there was almost as much traffic as on the weekends.

Although it was warm, the birds seemed to have a good time too -- a little misting never hurt anybody :) Amanda, one of our volunteers, is a professional photographer and took lots of pix today. We will get some posted here as soon as practicable.

Our presentations today were about Moluccan cockatoo behavior, as well as plucking and the Moluccan Mutilating Syndrome. Stasch is fully feathered and Katie is very plucked - looking at the two of them side by side created quite a stir with the audience.

We also discussed Quaker Parakeets again and the fact that they are banned in 14 states (due to their being able to acclimate to different climates), even though they can make wonderful pets.

Last, we spoke about Alice and her tumor and Izzy and how green cheeks can be great pets also.

We are seeing very good crowds this year at our presentations - 30-40 people at each one. This is way up from previous years. I see this as a wonderful way to help educate the public on the pros and cons of bird ownership.

It was a very good day.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

State Fair: Monday 8/4/08

Monday was another successful day at the Fair! Five birds came along:

  • Queenie - 17 year old Rose-Breasted Cockatoo -- resident
  • Cobalt - 4 year old Blue-Headed Pionus -- alumnus
  • Cisco - 23 year old Mexican Red-Headed Amazon -- up for adoption
  • Sam - 4 year old Congo African Grey
  • Burt -- 25 year old Goffin's Cockatoo -- alumnus

We actually shined the spotlight on Burt a few months ago on this blog; you can see him do a trick here.

Among the people representing CARE at the Fair today were some of our younger volunteers. Ranging in age from 11-16, they have been involved with CARE for between 4-8 years. Younger people are welcome to volunteer at the Center, as long as they're accompanied by a responsible adult. It's a fantastic way for a family to spend quality time together!

A picture of Queenie:
Monday's presentations were about the different species of birds we had at the Fair, and of course we focused on Cisco, who needs a forever home. Burt entertained the audience with his rolling over antics (which you can see in the video we linked to above), proving once again that you can teach an old bird new tricks! C. (one of our teenage volunteers) spoke to a group for the first time -- he talked about his volunteering experience with us at the shelter.

A Mexican Red-Headed Amazon (not Cisco, but of similar appearance):One really neat thing happened today. A member of one of the other groups in our building came over to us today and said she was phobic of birds and wanted to know if she could try to hold one. We let her hold Cobalt, a wonderfully tame pionus. She was so excited -- Coby even let her pet him -- it was awesome. A little later when we were packing up, she came back over with her friend and asked if they could take a pic of her holding a bird. Coby was already in his carrier, so we used Sam, the CAG. She was so excited - she said no one would ever believe she was holding a bird. Her excitement and the smile on her face were just a joy to behold. It was very rewarding to have given her her first bird holding experience - I doubt that it will be the last.

At CARE, we try to focus on education, and that was a wonderful opportunity to help someone overcome her fear of birds. Yea!

Monday, August 04, 2008

State Fair: Sunday 8/3/08

Sunday was another exhilarating day at the Fair!

We brought along a nice mix of residents, adoptable birds, and alumni. They included
  • Bisbee -- 4 years old -- White-capped Pionus
  • Joey -- 22 years old -- Umbrella Cockatoo
  • Shelby -- 7 months old -- Cape Parrot
  • Pretzel -- 8 years old -- female Quaker
  • Big Fred -- 10 years old -- Moluccan Cockatoo
  • Little Fred -- 10 years old -- Umbrella Cockatoo

The Freds are alumni and live in the same house. As you can imagine, it can get confusing; hence the modifiers of "Big" and "Little" before their names!

Since it was the weekend, there were 7 volunteers that came along.

Bisbee came to us several months ago. He was kept in a tiny cage, and had inadequate physical, psychological, and emotional care. We were told he was a vicious biter. After spending some time with us, we've found that nothing could be further from the truth! Bisbee is an adorable parrot that just needed someone that understood him. He stepped up for everyone, reveled in the attention, and is looking for his forever home!

Along with our normal presentation of the challenges of keeping birds in captivity, we had a cautionary tale. One of the volunteers, M., spoke about her experience last summer with Big Fred, a Moluccan Cockatoo. (This picture is not of Fred, but of another Moluccan Cockatoo that was in our facility).

Last summer, Big Fred got out of his carrier. He had chewed through the sides and M. didn't think that he could fit through the hole in the side. Was she ever surprised when he escaped and flew up in a tree! It took about a month to get him down. It was an interesting story and shows that accidents do happen. It's also a reminder to make sure that conditions are safe for your birds at all times -- they rely on us to protect them! Even birds with trimmed wings can fly away in the blink of an eye -- it only takes slight gust of wind and they can go quite far. CARE recommends only having birds outside when they are properly confined -- for example an outdoor cage, carrier, or harness.

Two of the volunteers that were with us on Sunday, B. and G., have been an incredible help with our toy-making. If you've been to the Center, you've seen all of the toys that we sell. We design and make many of them. All of the proceeds from the sale of toys and food go to support the Center. Our goal is to be self-sufficient and to not have to rely on the sometimes unsteady flow of donations. B. and G. have been purchasing, cutting, and drilling wood for our toys. Since they live over an hour away from CARE, this allows them to help out on a regular basis. Thanks!

Here is a picture of another Umbrella Cockatoo (not Fred). Unfortunately, I don't appear to have any pictures of the birds who went to the Fair Sunday on my computer!

And here is a quaker. Once again, not Pretzel, and Kelly, pictured below, has since found a home. We have many quakers currently up for adoption. Unfortunately, many people breed quakers because they are relatively inexpensive, so it doesn't take a lot of foresight or capital to set them up for breeding. This means that there is often a glut of quakers looking for homes. Additionally, they are illegal to keep as pets in many states.

If you are considering adding a bird to your house, please adopt from a shelter instead of supporting pet stores and breeders that are exacerbating the growing problem of homeless parrots.
If you are considering finding a new home for your parrot because of behavioral issues, please contact us. We may be able to help and would much rather work with you to provide a good home for your parrot than have to try to find another home.
Hope to see you soon!

State Fair: Saturday 8/2/08

Today was Alumni Day at our booth at the Fair.
We had several volunteers who brought their second-hand parrots along. These birds included:
  • Sydney -- Moluccan Cockatoo -- adopted three years ago
  • Marco -- Congo African Grey -- 4 years old -- adopted one year ago
  • Charmin -- Eclectus -- 4 years old -- adopted three years ago
  • Boca -- Bronze-winged Pionus -- 4 years old -- adopted three years ago
  • Addison -- Moluccan Cockatoo -- 3 years old -- adopted one year ago

Peaches, an 8 year old Moluccan Cockatoo currently up for adoption also came along.

We had a good time greeting lots of people - the weather was perfect and the crowd was huge. As usual, the birds were fantastic and let lots of people handle them. If a bird ever does not enjoy going to events like these, he or she is taken back home as we don't want to stress them out. Luckily, most birds love the new experiences and attention.

Our presentations were about the alumni, plus info about Moluccans and, of course, the fact that Peaches was available for adoption.

As we've mentioned here before, parrots are amazingly resilient, and it's wonderful to see how quickly they can adapt to new and improved living environments once they find the right home.

If anyone is interested in adopting Peaches, or in adding a cockatoo to their home, please first visit MyToos. (Please note that loud cockatoo screams are in the background of the first page of this site, so be careful if you're at work!) Cockatoos are wild animals requiring conditions that the average pet owner cannot provide and, as such, often face terrible neglect in captivity.

Marco:Addison:Peaches (up for adoption):
All in all, it was a very pleasant day and the birds (and volunteers) had a great time. Hope the weather holds for Sunday!

State Fair: Friday 8/1/08

Today we took Ellie, 4 year old female Iliger's Macaw, Lupe, 9-12 month old Quaker Parakeet, Lola, female U2 age unknown, and Buckie, 23 year old Mexican Red-Headed Amazon. Buckie is a resident as she has severe health problems due to previous neglect, needs frequent vet care due to this, and probably does not have a long life in front of her. The other three birds are up for adoption.

It was very warm today - we ended up misting the birds several times. Our talks today were about neglect with Buckie and Lola, birds coming from different animal welfare/control agencies with Lupe and Lola, and the trials and tribulations of owning a mini macaw. Again, we had good crowds in the stands.

We were able to help several people with behavioral problems they were having with their birds - it is very gratifying when we can help keep birds in their homes instead of having them be rehomed due to one or two disruptive behaviors. We would love nothing more than to be put out of business because there was no longer a need for parrot rescues. Unfortunately, the need keeps getting greater as more and more birds are being bred every year and sold to people who have no concept of how challenging it is to live with one of these wild animals.
It was a great day and these social creatures loved getting out and meeting so many new people!

Friday, August 01, 2008

State Fair: Thursday 7/31/08

Yesterday was the first day of Wisconsin's State Fair, and, as in past years, we will be set up throughout the entire run.

We are located in the Animal Care Barn (so stop and say hi if you're visiting the Fair!) -- the only non-dog group at this location.

Every day, we take a few different birds. They help to illustrate the talks we do on how parrots make difficult pets and the special needs they have (topics change daily). We also sell toys and food at the Fair, the proceeds from which support the birds at the Center.

Yesterday, our presentations were on neglect cases, so we brought the following birds:
  • Mango -- Ducorps Cockatoo
  • Scooter -- Lesser Sulfur Crested Cockatoo
  • Carmen -- Umbrella Cockatoo
  • Joey -- Umbrella Cockatoo

All of these birds have gone through significant neglect/abuse during their lives. The incredible resiliency of parrots gives us hope that they will be able to overcome their past and live happy lives with people who understand the special requirements of these majestic creatures!

Mango's story is posted here, for anyone who wants to see. We enlarged a picture of her taken on the day she was surrendered to us (just over a year ago). Visitors to the Fair got to then see her in person and were amazed at the transformation! This is the second time that Mango has been to public relations events, and she loves the attention!

This was the first time that Scooter was in public, but he did incredibly well! Scooter is about 6 years old, and lived the first part of his life in a tiny cage that would MAYBE be appropriate for a cockatiel. Since coming to stay with us, he has decreased the frequency of his neurotic behaviors, and we're hoping to find him a loving home to spend the rest of his life!
Joey, often referred to as CARE's mascot, is 22 years old. He suffered through beatings with a fly swatter and still can be nervous with hand motions above his head. Apart from that, he seems to have fully recovered from his ordeal and is a good example of a happy cockatoo.

We hope to see many of you out at the Fair and will update the blog with happenings!