Beautiful birds in Maple Ridge seeking forever homes

Closure of the World Parrot Refuge on Vancouver Island brought hundreds to former family home

  • Oct. 28, 2016 7:00 a.m.

Pam Piscopo has a chat with Mango




Don’t ever call Barney a bird-brain. The white, Moluccan cockatoo may look like he’s stuck in a steel cage with no hope of getting out, but the tropical bird has figured out how to loosen the screw at the bottom of his cage.

He does so by grasping the screw with his beak and moving it until it loosens, allowing him to escape the bars and spread his wings, at least for a little while.

One day, he did that seven times.

In the cage he now occupies, there’s a locking screw to make sure there’s no funny business.

“He just wanted to be out of his cage,” said Rachel Wong, one of the volunteers with the Greyhaven Exotic Bird Sanctuary.

The sanctuary has come to the rescue of 584 birds from the World Parrot Refuge in Coombs, on Vancouver Island, in June of this year after refuge founder, Wendy Huntbatch, died in February without a succession plan.

Now, it’s got 130 of those birds at a house in east Maple Ridge, from where it’s trying to find each one a loving home.

Already, Greyhaven has found those for 150 birds across the country.

“It takes time and a lot of patience,” Wong said of the traits required to adopt birds.

Many of them live for decades, so becoming a parrot owner is a long commitment.

Inside the spacious two-storey house that the sanctuary rents for $3,000 a month, every room is filled with cages, housing colourful, exotic and noisy birds.

Weekly feed costs alone are more than $500.

Forty macaws, 60 cockatoos and about 30 Amazons are found in the upstairs and main floor, in bedrooms and what used to be a spacious living room.

One of the bedrooms, is full of smaller, quieter and older Amazons who make gentle, clucking noises.

“They tend to stare and they observe so that when you’re in here, you have 40 pairs of eyes staring at you,” Wong said.

In another room, basically a medical ward, are ailing birds. In one cage, is a smaller, white pair that only speak French.

Some of the birds are in cages by themselves and some are in pairs. Some have colours around their necks, like a dog who just came from the vet, to keep them from pecking out their own feathers – a sign of stress.

 

“This is what it happens when birds are excited,” said Wong.

“They can be louder than those in the wild.”

As she speaks, ear-splitting shrieks fill the air from the largest of the parrots, the macaws.

“It takes time for them to get used to you.”

While the sanctuary is trying to find homes for as many birds as possible, not just anyone can take home a feathered, forever friend.

The Delta-based sanctuary will send out someone to inspect a home to make sure it’s suitable. And experienced bird owners are likely the most suited for adopting a loud, big macaw.

“They are so gentle,” said Wong.

“At the same time, though, they can take your finger off.”

Pam Piscopo is managing the house full-time. She has her eyes and heart set on a Moluccan cockatiel named Mango, whom she’ll likely take home and which picked most of its chest bare of feathers because of stress.

Those feathers are now starting to grow back. When Piscopo takes Mango out of her cage, the bird responds by clucking and chattering quietly, telling her some kind of a story.

Wong points out that in the World Parrot Refuge, the birds were in communal cages and had to fight for their food.

And as conditions deteriorated this summer, they even had to fight off rats who would come into their cages at night to steal their supper.

As a result, many birds have become traumatized. Separation from their owners can have the same effect.

“We’re looking for the final home. We don’t want them bounced around anymore,” Wong said.

Greyhaven’s house needs cash, as well as volunteers, about five people in the morning to feed and water the birds and clean their cages, and another three in the afternoon. It’s also looking for a grocery store to supply waste food to augment the feed supply.

Although there currently are 130 birds in the house, another 60 could be arriving after the lease runs out in the Nanaimo facility. However, once all the birds have been found homes, the sanctuary plans to close the house.

One of the volunteers said the house really needs volunteers who can pick up the bird poop.

“It’s about scooping the poop. There’s not enough people who want to get on their knees and scoop the poop.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

LOOKING BACK: A ride down memory lane or in this case Dewdney Trunk Road

Maple Ridge’s museum director offers a history lessson on how the major thoroughfare came to be

$75K will mean gifts for Maple Ridge man’s kids

Meneo Asperin had a rush of emotion when he thought he’d won $75 on BC/49

New Maple Ridge park to be finished this summer

Park located on the former site of the Anita Place Tent City

VIDEO: Supporters turn out to honour art gallery curator

LETTER: 40 people turned out to thank Barbara Duncan for her contribution to the arts in Maple Ridge

‘This year is unlike any other’: Trudeau delivers Canada day address

Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and the Prime Minister release video celebrating the national holiday

Lower Mainland teacher facing child pornography charges

Elazar Reshef, 52, has worked in the Delta School District

Missing Fraser Valley woman has not been in contact with family for several months

The RCMP are asking for the public’s help in locating 35-year-old Chantelle Chenier of Chilliwack

Rescuers halt Coquihalla River search due to darkness, after reports of person in river

No information to indicate a child is involved, RCMP state, after this information surfaced on social media

Man who rammed gate near Trudeau residence with truck faces multiple charges

The man, who police have not yet officially identified, will be charged with multiple offences

All community COVID-19 outbreaks declared over in B.C.

Abbotsford manufacturer cleared by Dr. Bonnie Henry

Kelowna RCMP commander calls for more nurses during wellness checks after complaint

Southeast District Commander wants to increase Police and Crisis Team program

‘Tarantula moth’ spotted in broad daylight on Vancouver Island

Polyphemus moths are one of the largest insects in B.C.

B.C. First Nations vow to keep fighting after Trans Mountain pipeline appeal denied

Squamish Nation, Tsleil-Waututh Nation and Coldwater Indian Band made the application

Most Read