Monique | BirdTricks | Parrot Training Blog - Part 2

A Day In The Life Of A Parrot Rescue Worker

 November 16th, 2014
Posted By:

Ever volunteered at a parrot rescue centre? Want to? Well, if you’ve ever wondered what it’s like, this is how my days there usually go.

Fridays are our busiest day of the week, it is called “clean up Friday” after all. Now I usually arrive around 7am, Dee (owner of Brainy Birds) and I sit down for some morning tea before heading into the craziness! First things first, take all the birds in the “big bird room” (the room where most of our big birds sleep) out of their cages so that some of our dedicated volunteers can start cleaning out those cages before we head into the “small bird room”. Usually I get stuck washing most of the birdfood dishes with my buddy, “Pepper” the Eclectus. I actually don’t clean a lot of bird cages because I’m very easily distracted and what’s more distracting than, well, birds!

Pepper the female eclectus

Dee and our amazing volunteers spend most of their time outside cleaning and scrubbing cages, also always someone to help out with the dishes. When most of the cleaning work is done we can start preparing fresh food for the birds, we never start chopping alone. Like always, I need Pepper with me, she hardly ever stops eating! On average we have around 5 birds ‘helping out’ amongst the two of us.

When the food is ready, we start moving the cages back into the rooms and try our best to find the right dishes for the right cages! We have a few ‘hair pulling’ moments when we can’t find that ONE dish to go into that ONE holder. Afterwards, we do the fun/scary part…finding all the birds and putting them back into their cages to eat. Why is it scary? Well, not all of the birds like all of us. Some birds, like our one male Eclectus, will go to everyone but you never know how he’ll react after stepping on your hand. Sometimes everything goes as planned, other times, well better go look for a bandaid!

We’re usually done around one in the afternoon, of course they still need to eat dinner…

Goose, the blue fronted amazon

So to bring things to a rather serious end, volunteering at a rescue centre isn’t always “fun” but we have to do our part. I often hear people saying they can’t bring themselves to volunteer or adopt from a rescue because it’s “too upsetting”, well I bet some of those animals/volunteers aren’t all that happy they have to be there either. As it is there are a lot of birds needing our help but we just don’t have the space to take in any more! Rescue centres (bird or not) need as much help as they can get.

If you can’t adopt, foster. If you can’t foster, donate. If you can’t donate, educate.



Zaza, the Senegal Parrot

 October 19th, 2014
Posted By:
Senegal parrot, Zaza.

Senegal parrot, Zaza.

I still remember browsing through ads online when I found Zaza’s ad. Just a simple “tame parrot for sale (asking $$$) with cage”. Nothing special. Now usually I send them an email on behalf of Brainy Birds and offer to assist them with finding their birds a new home. Sometimes they prefer to have the birds come live at the rescue. Which happened to be the case with this one. I sent all the information to Dee (founder of Brainy Birds) and she contacted them and arranged to go meet them, turns out, they had absolutely no idea what type of bird he was. At the time he was around 6 months old (only eating seeds and terrified of humans) and kept in a rather large, somewhat empty cage in some sort of day care facility. His cage was placed in the center of the room with noisy children running around him…get the picture?

Zaza a few weeks later.

Zaza a few weeks later.

I met him two days later, I usually try to be careful not to scare the new birds but I completely forgot he was there and just walked into the room like I always do, giving him the fright of his life! Just the sight of someone entering the room was enough to send him into an absolute panic, fluttering and screaming every time. Kinda assumed he was going to be a difficult little guy, and I was right. LOL.
For some reason he responded to me, taking treats from my hand through the cage bars within a few hours. So Dee suggested I should adopt Zaza after Ozzy (previous foster) goes back to his original owner, it was more of a spur of the moment type of decision. Which was good because that’s exactly what he and I needed. Learning to deal with things as they arrive rather than planning everything beforehand, which usually leads to unrealistic expectations on my part.

He loves hanging upside-down!

He loves hanging upside-down!

Turns out, he’s crazy! Considering his history, I am amazed at how much he has progressed and how comfortable he is with life here. It also became very obvious that, regardless of his previous phobic nature, he has a very big and aggressive personality. Like the way he will viciously attack his favorite toy when he’s happy, or how he throws himself around the cage whenever it seems like I’m ignoring him! Play time with this little busy body is extremely entertaining to say the least.

It didn’t all happen overnight though, he was fearful towards me for a long time. Every “scary” sound made him panic, moving too fast sent him fluttering around the room too scared to allow me to come near him. I’ve fostered birds with more fearful behavior before him, but they weren’t as hyper. Keeping him calm was quite a challenge…still is.

Now I know a lot of people are expecting me to reveal all my little “secrets” on how I got Zaza to this point:

Well…I don’t have any! Working with Zaza came somewhat naturally (for the most part) because he chose me. Even though we have our scary “walking on egg shells” moments, he chose to trust me regardless of his past and that made everything go much smoother.

That’s why it’s so beneficial to wait for them to just LET GO, most rescued birds have some sort of sad story and that takes time to work through. They learn from their experiences, sometimes the lessons are good. Sometimes they are bad. Zaza was brave to move past what happened the way he did, others might take much longer and that’s perfectly fine. It’s about forming a healthy bond with them, one they are comfortable with, even if they choose not to interact physically.

So basically, even though Zaza is a handful and working with rescues can be challenging and, often, heartbreaking. There are very few things in life as precious as healing the broken heart of a rescued bird.

Meet Parrot Rescue Assistant, Monique!

 September 7th, 2014
Posted By:
Monique and senegal Zaza

Monique and senegal Zaza

My journey started off rather dodgy to be honest, I have always loved animals. Big or small, cute and “ugly”, I just couldn’t get enough of them. However, I never had a particular interest in birds, they just never stood out to me. Sure they were beautiful, but they never seemed all that special.

So how did I end up here? Well, even though I knew nothing about them, I decided to get a parrot. Not just any parrot, an Umbrella Cockatoo, I thought they were pretty “cool”. Luckily for me (and the poor bird who could’ve ended up with me), I had second thoughts. I started doing some research online, just browsing through. That’s where my obsession began, the more I learned the more I wanted to know. I had a hard time deciding on the right species for me, but I always ended up bouncing right back to the Sun Conures. Two years later I finally felt ready, at the time I didn’t know about rescue centres, so I found a local breeder online and planned on meeting up with her a week after my birthday. It didn’t exactly go as planned…on my birthday we headed into a pet store to buy dog food when I saw the cutest little sun conures amongst all the other babies. I was drawn to one particular cutie…an hour later and she was already on her way home with us. I named her Toeksie (pronounced Took-see) and she meant the world to me.

Sun conure Toeksie

(She is not with us anymore but I will write more about her eventually.)

It was soon after I bought her that I first found on YouTube and that’s where all the fun began! I had so much fun training and caring for Toeksie I couldn’t wait to add another member to our little flock. It was through a pet supply company that I found Brainy Bird, a parrot rescue centre just a few miles away from our home! I instantly got along with the Founder of Brainy Birds, Dee and just a few months later ended up with my first foster fid “Hanna (Banana)”, a female Indian Ringneck. From there on I fostered a male little Corella/Bare eyed Cockatoo named “Ozzy/Bo”, letting him go was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. After he was returned to his original owner I adopted a phobic, un-tame Senegal parrot named Zaza, he is still the most difficult bird I ever had to care for. Regardless of his crazy personality, I love that little thing (sex unknown) dearly.

-More about him in future posts-

My other fosters included Lovie the Sun conure, Mr. Wiggles the Rose Ringed parakeet and Rosie the Galah (R.I.P). Lovie got adopted along with her “mate” Daisy and Mr. Wiggles adopted a wonderful lady last month.

Galah Rosie

Galah Rosie

Sadly Rosie didn’t make it, she didn’t have any fight left in her. She will always be missed.

We can’t save them all, that is something we all struggle to accept.

Their individual stories will be covered in the future posts! 🙂

All of that considering, I don’t think I fully understood what working with rescued birds would be like, most of them have only ever eaten seed and very few still trusted human beings. Toeksie was young, yes she was roughly handled and had a horrible one wing clip, but I only had to fix what happened a few months ago. Working with adult birds that have been abused or neglected for most of their life was an entirely new ball game for me. I think the most important thing is time, sounds too simple but time can really make a difference. It is also hard when you think about the fact that all of the pain, heartache and death could have been prevented if those people knew what they were getting themselves into. If they did the research, if they sought help early on. Those involved with rescues are left to fix what they have done, we cry over the birds who were lost and work with the ones left behind.

Earning their trust will never be an easy task, but I get to do the “fun” part. I can interact with the birds at the rescue and often foster one of the birds for a few months, Dee has to do everything else. Not only does she have to work with the remaining birds every day (provide them with fresh food, toys, out of cage time etc) but she also deals with the people responsible for the bird being there. Often times there are people who truly love their bird and simply want to provide them with a better life, that’s understandable. I think we all should try our best to educate people what life with these animals are like. It’s not easy, it never will be.

I can’t wait for the day where Rescue Centres will no longer be needed, until then, ADOPT! One by one, until there are none.