January was adopt-a-rescued bird month and my adoptables picture featured birds at the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria (AWLA) who were in need of a good home. I have a follow up story that will make you shake your beak and pluck the feathers off your chest.
Brian Wilson sent me an e-mail on Sunday to tell me about the rescue of 80 birds that had occurred over the weekend. Brian is a friend of mine whose lifes work is to rehabilitate unwanted parrots and find them forever homes through the Wilson Parrot Foundation. You may have met Brian because he frequently visits the Alexandria waterfront to put on shows and let fans of the parrots pose for pictures.
On Friday, January 29, an employee of a pet store received a call from a woman seeking assistance with some birds in her home that had belonged to her nephew. She told the employee that she did not know how to care for all the birds. The employee agreed to come to the house when she finished work to see if she could help.
In the basement there were loose Ring Neck Parakeets flying around and being chased by the cats that were in the house as well, the employee said. She found two mini Macaws and two Cockatoos that were in cat carriers. In the laundry room she found baby birds in a plastic container. When opening the top of this container, I found baby birds standing in their own feces. I also found two younger babies that were in a 10 gallon aquarium, under a towel, dead.
An upstairs room was filled with about 50 birds and the walls were covered with breeder cages. She said the smell was terrible. All of the birds had water bottles that looked like they had not been cleaned since they were set up, she said.
Another room had a cage with two pairs of Cockatiels and several cardboard boxes containing birds. Two Green-Cheeked Conures had chewed through their cardboard box and were roaming free on the dresser. The birds throughout the house were starving, with filthy cages and droppings all over the floor. The conditions that I witnessed the birds of this house living in disturbed me more than anything I had ever seen in my life, the employee reported.
The employee of the pet store went to the authorities, who in turn contacted Brian. We received the call about 80 birds that had been left by a breeder and our volunteers rallied, Brian said. One of the contacted parties was the AWLA. Executive Director Martha Armstrong told me that Megan Brooks, the AWLA Director of Shelter Operations, is working with Brian to find foster homes for these parrots.
Brian tells me that none of the birds will be available for some time for permanent adoption but that foster parents are really needed, so if you are a bird lover, have room for a foster bird and are able to help Brian and his foundation, please do.
Trilling a sweeter tune is the announcement of the Annual Great Backyard Bird Count from February 13-16. Sponsored by the Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Orinthology, participating is easy. You need to plan to count for at least 15 minutes and to count birds in as many places and on as many days as you like. Then you count the greatest number of individuals of each species that you see together at any one time and then enter your results through a web page.
Last years count set an all-time record with the identification of 634 species. This would be a fun project to do with your human children. My friends, especially the cats, would want to count one for the tally and one for a snack, which might not be what the Audubon Society has in mind.
Well gentle readers, keep your tail high and your feet dry.
For more information on Brian Wilson and his foundation, visit www.wilsonparrotfoundation.org.
To participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count, visit www.birdsource.org.