I volunteer at a parrot shelter. Oh believe it. I think I've talked about it on this blog before but I honestly don't remember if I have or not so here's the deal in brief.
Foster Parrots is a sanctuary for unwanted or mistreated birdies. They've got one of everything there in terms of pet birds from your macaws all the way down to the littlest budgie and for a time, even had button quail. Hundreds of birds have passed through there coming from incredibly bad situations and eventually getting placed in loving homes. Charlie Brown and Lucy, my parakeets, are from Foster Parrots.
I started volunteering there almost three years ago today. My mosquito-collecting job with the state had just ended and the infectious disease lab where I had interviewed decided to go with someone more experienced (who was demanding twice the pay. Wonder how that worked for them, heh heh heh) and after a month or so of dawdling I got a complex about how I wasn't contributing a damn thing to society. Actually it wasn't a complex it was a full blown freak-out. With crying. My mother thought I had lost it completely, saying that my over-achiever's syndrome had taken on a life of it's own and things were out of control and for the love of baby Jesus, GET A JOB ALREADY if you're not going to enjoy your brief interlude of unemployment. While I sent out I think 78 or so resumes, I was not called back to a single job. Depression and hopelessness followed. Woe is me! I could not work! Luckily there was an article about Foster Parrots in the local paper. I emailed them and Mark, one of the directors emailed me back at the end of the day. "Can you be here tomorrow??" he asked. That was what started it all.
Foster Parrots was my full-time no-pay job for three solid months. I went there every weekday morning and did the rounds, helping feed over 250 birds. Even when I got a job at Ann Taylor Loft, I arranged my hours so I worked 2PM to 10PM so I could volunteer each morning. Then after getting my job at the hospital I still came every Saturday I could, even though I slightly hated getting up early on the weekend. I just loved going to FP and visiting with the birds. Some of them did hate me, but some of them, a lot of them, did love me and would perch on my shoulder while I went about my duties, cuddling up to that little warm spot at the edge of my jaw, right where my neck and shoulder met. When I was at FP I felt like I had a purpose, like someone actually needed me (ok those "people" were actually animals, but they DID need me) and that someone appreciated my work. It never stopped being a fulfilling experience for me.
Yesterday was probably my very last day at Foster Parrots. The organization got a large land grant in Rhode Island, near the Connecticut border, which is at minimum 2 hours from my house. I am so happy for the directors, the recently married Mark and Karen and all of the animals that will now be safe at NEEWS (New England Exotic Wildlife Sanctuary). When this sanctuary land was first purchased but before the property and buildings were properly set up for animals. Mark and Karen purchased animals being auctioned at the Catskill Game Farm and rescued 2 porcupines and 4 monkeys, a lorikeet, a patagonian cavy and I think a tortoise from the hands of canned hunt operators and taxidermists. In order to keep these animals, they needed a proper place to live. Like Plato said back in the day "Necessity is the mother of invention" and with the auction purchases, NEEWS was born. Not only does it now house the more exotic residents of FP, but also dozens of birds for which I cared. While I know they are so much better off there, it still made me sad today to walk into FP and be surrounded by so many empty cages. I kept having to tell myself how happy my bird loves are now and how selfish I was being for still wanting the animals there. I couldn't help but to feel a twinge though as I walked out of the dilapidated old FP for one last time. While almost every bird in there has bitten me, I met a lot of "kindred spirits" while there. I always believed that animals had souls and understood humans much more than we could even imagine, but working at Foster Parrots confirmed and enhanced that belief.
Here are a few of my favorites: