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Jun 25, 2018

Summer 2018 Has Arrived - And So Have The Babies!

2018 Nestling
2018 Nestling

We are very excited to report that Baby Amazon Season 2018 is in full swing! The first baby arrived to SoCal Parrot on June 2nd, and there have been 15 more over the past several weeks. The babies range in age and size, although this year has already brought us the highest number of tiny nestlings we have ever had at one time (5 in the brooder as of this report date).

Some of the babies only need a few days of hand-feeding and extra care before they are cleared to "move up" to a large cage in our Sun Room. The Sun Room is an enclosed patio with lots of natural light, where our ambassador birds and some of our wild non-releaseable parrots live. We monitor the fledglings (not quite adults, not needy babies) every hour, and check their weight daily, to ensure they are progressing and growing as they should be. Last year, we ended the season with more than 40 young Amazons going through our care. It may be an even higher number this year!

From the moment the baby birds arrive to us, they require more than just feeding and cleaning enclosures. Unlike our wild adult patients, the babies need to be fed Exact hand-feeding formula and weaning pellets. As they grow and learn to eat on their own, we provide them with fresh produce every day as well as Zupreem and a seed mix. Once the babies are healthy, strong, and big enough, we will microchip them and test them for any infectious parrot disease. (Interesting note: we have never had any bird test positive!)

Altogether, a single baby parrot's care cost from intake to release will be around $400 to $500. Your support and donation will help us continue to care for our current baby patients, as well as keep taking in more! Thank you for assisting SoCal Parrot and making sure all of these little cuties have their very best shot at survival in the urban wild!

2018 New Nestling
2018 New Nestling
2018 Fledgling
2018 Fledgling
Mar 21, 2018

The founder of SoCal Parrot

Brooke Durham and her fancy parrot hat
Brooke Durham and her fancy parrot hat

This is the slowest time of year for us here at SoCal Parrot.  The parrots are busy pairing up and finding nests right now so lucky for us, we don't see many injured parrots coming in.  I figured I'd fill everyone in on some of the obstacles Brooke Durham, the founder of SoCal Parrot, has had to endure.

Brooke started out as a volunteer at Project Wildlife, a San Diego based wildlife rehabilitation organization.  She spent years caring for and rehabilitating all types of wild mammals and birds.  She eventually achieved her goal of specializing in rehabilitating raptors.  Red tailed, red shouldered and Cooper's hawks as well as great horned and barn owls were soon in our flight gaining strength so they can be released back to the wild.  During one windy night, a wild baby parrot was brought into Project Wildlife after the palm frond his nest was in was blown down.  We took this broken parrot home because he would never be able to fly after his injuries.  Once parrot after parrot kept coming in and were never released back to where they came from, Brooke new she had to do something.

What are we doing?  When Brooke started spreading the word about what she was doing, people felt free to criticize.  How dare she help a non-native species.  She was supposed to let them die or be taken as pets.  That was the safe thing to do.  As a wildlife rehabilitator, she knew she had to save wild parrots.  As a conservationist she knew this was the right thing to do.  Ten years later and things are starting to change.  I'll get to what Brooke has planned this year but first I need to fill you in on some of our struggles.

If you didn't know, people who work with animals tend to be a little different.  I mean we tend to prefer to be around animals more than other people.  So I guess it should come as no surprise that these same people are running organizations that are supposed to put the welfare of animals first.  Supposed to.  

Our first story goes back many years, before we had our first wild parrot release.  We had been taking in wild parrots for years but were unable to release them.  As wildlife rehabilitators, we knew we had to do a release of non-native parrots with the approval of California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW).  We had requested several times that CDFW give us a decision on a release but they wouldn't take a stand and we were handed off to one person after another.  Around this time a local parrot organization that specializes in re-homing pet parrots approached us.  They had two parrots that were wild that they wanted us to release.  One was a blue fronted Amazon and the other a red-crowned.  It was obvious the red-crowned came from the local wild flock but we did not know where the blue fronted came from but it was definitely not domesticated.  We told them we would not release any parrot until we had approval from CDFW.  They then asked us to help them "take down" a parrot organization that took parrots to Balboa Park and charged people money to take pictures with them.  We let them know we were here to take care of parrots, not to take down other organizations.  So instead, they decided to "help" us by sending over one of their board members to volunteer for us.  Long story short, this volunteer wound up quitting without notice and convinced our volunteer coordinator to leave us and join their organization.  They threatened to sue us if we did not return the blue fronted Amazon because we had not released it.  They didn't even know that this parrot had clipped wings and we had to wait for the next molt for it to even be able to fly.  We were also turned in to the County Department of Animal Services for inadequate care of our parrots and to CDFW because we were going to attempt to release non-native parrots.  Nice huh?  Well, we had been rescue partners with the Department of Animal Services for years so they came out to do their mandatory investigation and apologized for the visit.  The blessing in disguise was the complaint to CDFW.  This complaint forced CDFW to investigate and rule on us releasing wild parrots.  They determined we were the experts as far as naturalized parrots go and as long as we don't release any monk parrots (illegal in California), we were allowed to release.  Soon after this we had our first release and we were able to release the red-crowned Amazon this organization gave us.  We never understood why we weren't going to be sued for the red-crowned and only the blue fronted Amazon. The blue fronted was given back and never released, we are assuming it will be kept in a cage the rest of its life.  So much for putting the welfare of animals first.  By the way, the organization at Balboa Park disappeared and we never learned what happened to all of their parrots.  Also, the director who was apparently pushing to take down all other parrot organizations was kicked out and is no longer associated with that parrot rescue.  Our previous volunteer coordinator also left that organization once she saw what the director was up to.

Here's another story about people forgetting to put animals first.  A permit from CDFW is required to legally rehabilitate wild animals.  For some perspective, there are four wildlife care centers in San Diego County compared to 86 throughout the rest of the state.  Unfortunately, there hasn't been a permit issued in San Diego for over 25 years.  Why so long?  Well, there is a regulation for wildlife permits that you must gain permission from the two closest wildlife centers to your facility.  SoCal Parrot is an organization under R.E.P. For Wildlife (Rehabilitate, Educate, Protect For Wildlife).  Brooke was looking to expand our reach by including native wildlife into our rehabilitation efforts.  So Brooke applied for a wildlife permit.  She was over qualified and met every requirement.  The only hurdle was approval from the two closest care centers.  This approval is based solely on if the other care centers believe there is a need for another care center.  Are there enough care centers to handle all of the wildlife that needs help?  Project Wildlife seemed to think so.  They are one of the largest wildlife care centers in the U.S.  They gladly recommended us for a wildlife permit.  However, the other closest organization didn't believe another organization was needed and would not respond to any requests for their reasoning so we were turned down, end of story.  Was it personal, fear of taking "their" rescues away or fear of losing donation dollars?  We'll never know.  Lucky for us we were able to get recommendations from the Fund For Animals, the second largest care center in San Diego as well as Sea World, who rehabilitates all water based mammals in San Diego.  This was enough for CDFW to issue us a wildlife rehabilitation permit.  This was a very quick re-telling of this story, this took as years to get done.

After all that Brooke has gone through so far, 2018 is shaping up to be an exciting year.  She just joined the board of directors of the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council (IWRC).  She bypassed the California and U.S. wildlife organizations and went straight to THE international organization.  Very impressive and unheard of for someone who rehabilitates non-native naturalized parrots and dares to release them.  She was given this opportunity after helping the IWRC to raise funds for other wildlife care centers that were impacted by hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria of 2017.  She will be the keynote speaker for The Oasis Sanctuary's Discover The Oasis 2018, their annual fundraiser.  They are an excellent organization that gives parrots that have such long lifespans a home to live out their lives.  They take in all kinds of pet parrots that lost their homes, check out their website to see their stories, www.the-oasis.org.  She will also be speaking about parrot conservation at the 2018 American Ornithological Society in Tucson this April.  The idea of parrot conservation in urban settings has come a long way, she wouldn't have been giving this talk 10 years ago.  She also has plans to speak at the International Ornithological Congress in Vancouver as well as the Western Field Ornithologists Annual Conference in Ventura.  She's doing all of this on top of keeping SoCal Parrot moving forward and working on more plans for speaking engagements and working with other conservation groups.  

Dec 18, 2017

2017 - Another Successful Year!

Best buddies
Best buddies

We made it to the end of 2017 and I wanted to thank all of our donors for their support.  Thank you to everyone who has donated to us through GlobalGiving, who have sent us supplies through Amazon and volunteers who have donated their time at our facility.  Without everyone's help we wouldn't be able to do what we do.

Let's get to it!  As of December 15th, we have taken in 118 parrots for 2017.  We had our annual amazon release in November.  We had 62 amazons sitting in carriers waiting for the wild flock to arrive.  As always, the flock comes flying in pairs.  They start landing in groups within a couple thousand feet of their night roost.  As they start landing they are squawking and our amazons start to realize that there are other parrots in the world.  You'll here an excited call back here and there from our carriers.  As the sun starts to set, you'll get a group of about a hundred or so amazons decide it is time to go to roost.  This is when we start to release our amazons so they can rejoin their parents, brothers and sisters that they were apart from for 6 months or so.  One by one they realize that they can fly more than 60 ft, which is their limit in our flight.  Our amazons quickly assimilate into the flock and we can't tell them apart anymore.  As the wild amazons flying into the roost went past 400 individuals plus adding our new releases, it becomes a very loud jumble of squawks and screams.  As always, the social makeup of the flock takes in strangers without question or fights.  We currently have 15 conures in our pre-release flight who are building up their flight muscles.

In October we held our annual Picnic With The Parrots at our facility.  We have scaled back this event over the years to make it manageable.  The more parrots that arrive at our door the less time we have to plan events.  However, this was one of our best Picnics we ever had.  We saw a bunch of new faces as well as the dedicated who come year after year.  It's cool to hear each person's story of how they first came across the wild flock flying around San Diego.  The most common is the flyover of little screaming green things and wondering what the heck was that!  Animal care organizations are always underfunded so we always try to help each other out when we can.  A big thank you to Project Wildlife, The Living Coast Discovery Center and Intertwined Conservation for setting booths at Picnic to help spread their conservation messages.  

Here are a couple of updates of parrots I discussed in previous reports.  Two Stroke is out flying across San Diego with his new flock.  He was released in November.  Once he was put in a carrier and taken to the release site, he became one with the flock.  I have pictures of the release but I couldn't tell you which one Two Stroke is, from far away it's hard to even tell if an amazon is a red-crown or lilac-crown so recognizing a particular individual is almost impossible.  We hope he lives a long life with his flock.  As I have mentioned in the past, each of the parrots we release have been microchipped so if we ever get one back injured, we will know who they are.  Hopefully we will never see Two Stroke return to us and we can imagine him flying free with his new family.  In the last report I told the story of a yellow head parrot that came to us shot.  She was from the small yellow head flock in Imperial Beach.  After almost four months of medication to fight lead poisoning and putting weight back on, she was finally healthy enough to meet our other yellow head.  We knew they had to know each other and have a good chance of being related since they came from the same small flock.  It made all of the waiting worth it when they saw each other.  They are inseparable now.  Over the years that our yellow head IBY was in our flight as the only yellow head, she would make her "flock call" which is a call for her flock to join her.  It's a very distinctive call and sad to hear when you knew no other parrots would be coming to join her.  Now we don't hear that call as much.  

We are planning on having a great 2018.  We are currently in the process of getting our permits to build our new wildlife care center.  I hate to think we won't be up and running by this time next year but it is a sloooooow process.  We first submitted plans in May and are still working through the red tape of trying to build in California.  I won't bore you with the details but I will keep you informed of our progress.  We are building a temporary cage to make space for the number of parrots we ae taking in every year.  We are maxed out for room at our current property so we are building a cage that can be moved to our new proerty once it is ready.  Thanks again for all of your support.

Parrot release (see the green blur?)
Parrot release (see the green blur?)
Wild flock coming in to land
Wild flock coming in to land
Temp cage front
Temp cage front
Temp cage side
Temp cage side
 
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