Between Christmas and New Year's I took a trip to Arizona. In the process I had a chance to visit the Oasis Sanctuary. The Oasis is a life-care facility for rehomed parrots and other birds. Although many of the parrots that end up there have plucking or behavioral issues, some are perfectly normal and were simply retired to the sanctuary by deceased or incapacitated owners.
Located on what used to be a Pecan orchard, the Oasis has a seemingly endless supply of natural perches and chewing supplies for the parrots. All of the surrounding trees harbor ravens but their calls are entirely drowned out by the unceasing screaming of busy parrots. The facility has several aviaries and many individual cages as well. Virtually all of the parrots are paired with a mate of the same species or sometimes a buddy of a different one.
Jean Gauthier gave us a personal tour of the sanctuary. She showed us the many aviaries and cages. Amazingly she remembers the names of hundreds of specific parrots and can name them off as she sees them. Jean has clearly made some friends amongst the retired parrots because any aviary we would walk into, some parrot would immediately fly over to Jean to hang out with her.
Most of the parrots that arrive at the Sanctuary are unfortunately clipped and often plucked. They cannot immediately be integrated into the large open aviaries so instead they are held in smaller indoor cages to regrown their feathers and adapt to other parrots. They are taught to break their dependence on human attention and instead to seek it out from one another. Once the parrots are flighted and self sufficient, they are moved to large aviaries with others of their species.
The Oasis has some fantastic aviaries housing hundreds of parrots each. Cockatiels and Budgerigars share an aviary with a few quail, a pigeon, and a grackle. Next door is an aviary with Ring-Necked Parakeets. Another aviary exclusively serves Monk Parakeets. It is a unique structure in that it is actually made of two aviaries and a fly through bridge which links the two. As we walked into one of the sub-aviaries, all of the wild caught Monk Parakeets zoomed out and over the bridge with only the tame ones remaining. The Oasis receives many confiscated or ferral caught Monk Parakeets.
The male Cockatoo aviary is off limits due to major aggression, however, one playful 'too came up to the bars to make everyone laugh. In the Lory aviary lives the sweetest parrot in all the Sanctuary named Ophelia. She is a Black Lory with a bad leg. Despite the injury she limps around and flies effortlessly. Ophelia flew right over to Jean and was eager to be handled by everyone.
Another aviary is dedicated to African Greys. It is a tall box aviary with four Pecan trees outlining the corners. These are original trees from the orchard but have dried out over time. An endless chatter of mumbled words and whistles roams this aviary full of Greys. However, the most impressive aviary of all is the Macaw aviary. About the size of a warehouse, the Macaw aviary is justified by the heft of the parrots which reside in it. The doorway is guarded by two vicious Blue and Yellow macaws. They test if your will is strong enough to enter the dwelling of the great Macaws. If you can get by them, you are free to tour the aviary. Discarded shells of walnuts and almonds line the floor of the building.
A major problem for the sanctuary is mice. Unfortunately for the sanctuary, mice love the same grains that parrots do. And parrots make no effort to keep their mess contained off the floor. While mouse holes are apparent in all the aviaries, they are most prominent in the Macaw aviary. Devoid of predation, the mice fearlessly and lazily walk around on the aviary floor ignoring strangers and birds. The Oasis cannot come up with an effective way for extracting the rodents without potentially harming the parrots.
Next we toured the rows of wire cages used for parrots that could not live in the aviaries. Jean effortlessly called off the species and names of all the parrots as we walked down the rows of cages. We came upon the few Poicephalus parrots of the aviary and the only Senegal Parrot. A male and female Red Bellied parrot neighbored the lone Senegal Parrot. This Senegal parrot has the orangest eyes I had ever seen on a Senegal. I'm not sure if it's just because all Senegal Parrots are so sweet or because I have a way with Senegals, but this one just came over and melted away from attention and scratches through the cage bars.
Finally we visited the hospital building. While there is no vet on the Sanctuary premises, the staff has the expertise to administer medications and provide basic care to ill birds. Some of the parrots in the hospital ward were there temporarily while others were terminal. A handsome military macaw with cancer greeted us as we came inside. A cockatoo had so much heavy metal poisoning in his previous home that he had to be kept in a stainless steel cage (no doubt the most expensive cage in all the sanctuary).
The Oasis Sanctuary depends on volunteers, funding, and support from the parrot owners community. They can use parrot toys, food, supplies, but most convenient is straight cash. You can sponsor a specific parrot or make a cash donation no matter how small or large. However, there is one thing money can't buy: volunteer labor (at least not when you're in the middle of the Arizona desert). They can really use your help. So if you live in the area or would like to take a parrot related vacation, consider volunteering for a few weeks at the sanctuary. Please visit the-oasis.org for more information about the Oasis Sanctuary and please consider giving a donation to this Sanctuary or helping out a parrot rescue near you. Go ahead and visit a rescue or sanctuary some time. You will find it to be quite an eye opening yet enjoyable experience.
Oh, Michael, I wish I'd have known that you were going to be in my neck of the woods. I would love to have met you. I would have liked for you to meet my rescue flock. I'm sure you would've loved to see my 5 Senegals. Maybe next time.
I LOVE that place. I've been there a couple of times, and have stood in exactly the places you have in the video you took. It is a wonderful place for the parrots to get the care they need and deserve. They are wonderful people! Isn't Jean great?
Isn't that cute little Senegal sweet? I remember when I was told about it's mate passing away, and how sad the staff was for the loss. But, the hardest thing for them was watching that little Sennie pine away for the mate. So sad. It is a great thing that the bird lives there where it can be surrounded by other birds to help ease the pain of the loss. It is still part of the larger flock, even though it is housed individually. They all communicate together and know their flock friends.
I am very involved with bird rescue, and when unclaimed, found parrots come into our rescue, I deliver them to the Oasis Sactuary volunteers near me in Arizona. The Oasis is about a 2.5 hour drive from me, so it is very convenient to have those volunteers only 20 minutes away. I love the way that they treat the individual birds that come their way.
My Vet is the same one that takes care of the Oasis birds. He is also on their Board of Directors. I feel so confident in his abilities to care for my birds. I figure he's seen it all and is able to give the best care that is possible. His experience is overwhelming.
That is a great video that you posted. I'm so glad that you were able to take the time to visit them. It is an experience that you'll never forget and probably always cherish.
That was fantastic.
I might be a bit biased, but my favorite part was the budgie and cockatiel aviary. The sounds of their voices are so beautiful, and I find it so relaxing.
I'd love to visit there one day!
That's very close to where I lived for several years and went to high school. (Ft. Huachua/Sierra Vista) Of course, the sanctuary opened up the same year I moved away so I never got to see it, but it's good to hear that they are doing so well. How did you like the horizon in Az? I do miss being able to see those gorgeous sunsets!
Thanks for all of your great work. It was fun seeing Jean again, even though it was a movie.
Jean wrote me that she really enjoyed meeting you, Kat and your Dad. You really did a great job on the blog post. I also posted links to this on three different yahoogroups for people in our area who remember Jean.
Great article and thanks!
Thought I'd add a few more things here...one is some good news, the Military Macaw in the hospital was named Murphy...Murph's biopsy has come back cancer-free, so the surgery he had on the lump under his tail was successful and all the cancer was removed! Good news, he is one of our caretaker Nancy's favorite parrots here.
The two 'vicious' Blue and Golds that were guarding the front of the Macaw Aviary are two bonded females named Tyra and Maxine. Tyra is fairly aggressive even without Maxine, though not to her former male owner, TJ...Maxine away from Tyra is much better with people. But when most of the South American parrots (macaws, conures, quakers, and amazons especially) pair up, they often only have eyes for each other and become a lot less people-friendly unless they are separated (not so much the case with African species!). Tyra and Maxine are territorial about that ledge near the door, so if they wind up there, yes, entering is suddenly a bit formidible!!
In the video, you can see Joe Dyson, our Director of Operations, toweling two of the macaws in the row cages. This was a pretty exciting day for a tour, to see this...they were being moved from their two bird cages to a new mini flight aviary in the rows. We tried four pairs of fairly aggressive macaws in that flight over the next few days, and found only two pairs who could get along together safely...so right now, that flight contains Zack (Blue and Gold), his partner Gabel (Hyacinth x Buffons hybrid), and Augie (Blue and Gold) and Rags (his Blue and Gold partner). Hopefully they continue to work out!!! The macaw you first see Joe towelling is Stanley, a Blue and Gold who is paired to a fairly aggressive Green Wing named Milo. They were a pair that did not work out, Zack seemed intent on trying to pick fights with Milo because he was interested in stealing Stanley, so both were put back in their original cages. We had numerous staff members watching them to make the decision to intervene and remove certain birds and try other birds. Quite the event! Since this video we also have put four Amazon pairs in the neighboring flight that was empty, and are monitoring them as well.
So I wanted to comment a bit further about "The Oasis cannot come up with an effective way for extracting the rodents without potentially harming the parrots" regarding mice around the sanctuary. I think it's important to realize we do try multiple methods all the time to work on this issue. It's just a challenge, and will continue to be one. Our area is a high density wildlife area, plus we have dogs and chickens roaming around that kill and eat the mice when they can. Poisoning them would be a poor option, because we would injure other animals. We do place live traps and catch and remove many many mice daily. And as I mentioned, the chickens and many other animals go after the mice as well. Our core focus has been finding ways to keep them out of the bird's food areas. In aviaries we have built food stands that the mice cannot access since they are mounted on metal poles. Cage wire is something mice have no trouble climbing, so bowls mounted on the sides of cages are problems...we are trying to eliminate feeding from wall bowls as we can. We have several other mouse control methods that we try from time to time...one is letting several of our best mousing chickens into areas such as the macaw area for the day. Let me just say it is not something we are taking lying down! Just it's a long haul to fight mouse populations given all the accessible dropped food. And we are not alone, many establishments with large populations of animals deal with this issue. All in all, I think we are doing the best we can at this point in time, but we hope to improve more and more.
Oh, and a few more names...the little Oasis Senegal hen is named Zuzu...and she is a very sweet bird, we are all in love with her here. She has been here many years, and has out lived several mates by now. The Congo Grey perched on Michael's hand in the photo is named Anela...which is Hawaiian for 'Angel'. He is kind of particular, but definitely liked you and Valentin! The great photo of the Scarlet and Military in the Macaw Aviary is of Rainbow (Scarlet) and Sammy (Military). The cockatoo peeking out of the King Aviary is Beau (Major Mitchells X Sulphur Crest hybrid).
Thanks Jean for all the added comments. I wanted to mention the names of the Senegal and African Grey but they just completely slipped my mind. I had a lot more video content and commentary that I did not have a chance to include. There was so much to say just to cover the basics as it is. Anyway, thanks for all the extra information and feel free to stick around the parrot forum because we have some great people and discussions here.
Although we don't have many owners with Jardine's (I can only think of two or three off the top of my head), I think we may possibly have the largest concentration of Senegal/Poicepahlus owners. Be sure to vote in our [url=http://theparrotforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=2595:2ax7jiyv]Poicephalus Owner's Survey[/url:2ax7jiyv] to let us know what kinds you have.
We have a couple helpful articles about Senegals but also relate to Poicephalus as a whole:
[url=http://theparrotforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=348:2ax7jiyv]Senegal Parrot Information and FAQ[/url:2ax7jiyv]
[url=http://theparrotforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=768:2ax7jiyv]Senegal Parrot Biting and Aggression Issues[/url:2ax7jiyv]
Mona has been a major help in compiling these articles. I always suggest these to people considering Senegal Parrots because it paints a more realistic picture rather than the sugar coated impression stores/breeders provide. Anyway, thanks for the additions to my article from the tour guide herself.
PS Everyone, see!? I told you she is a whiz with parrot names
I'll try to chip in when I can...my own flock is made up of 13 birds. I have my three Jardine's (Aukie, Emma and Giggidy) and then my little Meyer's hen, Molly. Mona would be horrified if I did not mention my MOLLY, lol! She is really an incredible flier and a great little girl, just as cool as a Senegal. I do have issues with her being aggressive to my other birds, but she's great with people and I used to fly her at the armory with Mona's birds. Mona really really misses her. She is now 11 years old and was my first parrot, so I've had her 8 years.
My three Congo greys are Sylvain, Nigel and my new girl, Trixie. And all are so different! I swear, every grey I know is so totally unique in personality...even more so than other species. In the video you can see me take Nigel off a perch in the grey aviary and give him a kiss (which I always do through my hand, because now and then he'll try to bite rather than kiss, but he EXPECTS a greeting kiss from me!). Other than Nigel, all my own birds live at my house. Mona knows Nigel well too...he went from a plucked baby to a beautifully flighted 5 year old interacting with the Oasis greys and learning flock dynamics in that big aviary. Not a bad life!
I am also very big on Eclectus parrots, I have three in my flock (Donald, Pilot and Veronica). I used to fly Donald at the Armory in Washington state with the Northwest Avian Flyers too. I am active on The Eclectus Connection email list as the 'plant expert' who offers help identifying safe and toxic plants for parrots...I have a master's in horticulture. At the Oasis, I spent the past year caring for an Eclectus named Pong Yo who was a victim of multiple strokes. He and I became very close, and we just lost him in early December...one of the harder things that has happened to me since working here. I am working on building a memorial bird fruit garden for the Oasis parrots in his honor.
And the rest of my flock is rounded out by my Lesser Patagonian Conure, Lenny; my Aztec Conure, Chicken and my Iris Lorikeet, Vic. I am just a huge fan of so many species though. Both conures and lories have great qualities as companions too, it's too bad so often you just hear about how noisy conures are and how messy lories are!!! Mine aren't so bad, certainly not so bad that I wouldn't want to live with them and enjoy them forever! I adore my two conures, recently took Chicken to a positive reinforcement training retreat at Cockatoo Downs, and he's still working on his step up but making progress...which is huge since he's always been handshy.
Vic's brother can be seen in a number of videos posted by his owner Cydney on YouTube. Thought I'd share a link to a few of them, but once again, lories are very underrated as companion birds. They just are difficult to keep with other parrot species because they can be more aggressive and dangerous to similar sized birds. But what personality and smarts! Okay, I'll post the Rainbow Lory smilie, though he's not the kind I have.. Iris and Goldie's Lorikeets are not much bigger than budgies, but every bit a lory like Ophelia the Black Lory is!! They are messier, but since they are small you can make the mess manageable with shower curtains and frequent cage cleaning.
Here's some of Cydney's links with her trained Iris lorikeet, Kia...cute or what!!!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMoxr0vI-Wchttp://www.youtube.com/user/cydney1220# ... NhrFra3nBo
wow, what a fantastic place- I'd love to volunteer there. Where I currently volunteer there are only two parrots- an amazon who hates my guts (I still adore her though, she's a lot of fun to interact with ) and a plucked macaw who is staff only. I can't really imagine so many birds all in one place
I do miss Molly and Nigel, but I don't think that Babylon and Molly would EVER get along in a small room together....Two little prima donnas!
They did fly in the fly building fine though. That was a large space and since both Jean and I were there with our respective "girls", they didn't need to compete for attention.
By the way, Babylon LOVES Jean's long hair. It just sets my little Senegal off. I also played Michael's movie for the birds to see if they reacted to it. Phinney was absolutely mesmerized!
Glad to hear from you Jean and fun seeing you online!
Wow that's alot of parrots and alot of cleaning to keep up with hehe. Excellent video, I love to see places like that and what a great heart to everyone that runs it. If I went there though I would have a hard time leaving, I can spend hours in a petshop around 2-3 parrots, I can only imagine a sanctuary like that...
Mona, I have to say Molly has gotten more possessive of her territory and me over the last five years, and less tolerant of other parrots at my house. Back when I birdsat Ranzo (male Red Bellied) for 6 months in 2005, she could care less that I had him in the house...they could both be out on playgyms together and she'd totally ignore him. But when I started birdsitting for Sonja somewhat regularly in 2007, I noticed she changed...she became a lot less tolerant of me having Halo (female Meyer's) and Henry (male Red Bellied) there. And then when I tried fostering Tooey in 2008 (male Senegal), she became downright aggressive and dangerous towards a new poi in the house, saw him, flew into his cage and pinned him to the grate, ready to kill. Not cool...the end of me birdsitting parrots her size or smaller at my house. She also used to ignore my larger parrots other than Aukie, and now she will even attack Donald (male Eclectus) if she is out with him in my bedroom, or ANY of the other birds through their cages. So I have to be a lot more cautious, especially I'd never let my little Aztec Conure Chicken and her out at the same time because he'd be toast. I think when she's NOT at home with me, this behavior is far less prevalent, so I think going to say a fly building with her and other birds would probably be fine.
But I do not see her now ever adapting to living with a group of pois in her home territory! She and Babs are two queen bees, and they are serious about it!!!!
That's interesting.....It really makes me wonder why it works with Babylon, Jack and Bailey???
They do interact, but nothing too serious. I am letting them all out in the bird room together now for an hour daily. Kiri and Phinney are with them...so, it's the whole flock. Some days, Babylon screams and when I open the door she flies out so she can follow me around. She follows me around for about 20 minutes until she gets bored with me and then I can put her back in the bird room with the others...but some days, she hangs with the other birds for the entire hour and she is sweet as pie....Wonder why...What do you think? You know my boys....