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Foster Parrots Newsletter
Happy New Year from Your Parrot Rescue Friends! January 2005
in this issue
Foster Parrots Guyana Conservation Project Takes a Promising Turn. <#column>
Letting go of Richard, by Karen Lee <#article1.bg1>
In Memory of Wolfie by Ginni Bly <#article1.bg2>
Why did the chicken end up in the trash can? by Tami Myers <#article2.bg1>
Two new board members bring valuable experience to Foster Parrots Board.
Donate Directly to Foster Parrots via Network for Good <#article3.bg1>
Foster Parrots Guyana Conservation Project Takes a Promising Turn.
Foster Parrots is very proud to announce several major advances in our
Guyana conservation and parrot protection efforts. As most of you who
are familiar with our efforts know, Guyana is a beautiful country with
vast untouched and unexplored rainforests. With the majority of its
700,000 population living on the coast it is vital that efforts be made
now to save as much of the unspoiled wilderness as possible. As good
fortune would have it, there are many Guyanese who also hope to do just
that. During our most recent trip (Dec. 04/Jan. 05) Brian Cullity and I
were able to spend several days with the Macushis, one of the nine
Amerindian tribes of Guyana, in St Ignatius Village, located in the
Rupununi district of Southern Guyana. This village is populated by
around 1000 people who have derived a portion of their income from
legally trapping wildlife for export to the world pet market. While
there we were able to spend time with a young guide from the village,
Paul Farias. Paul led us on what we had hoped would be a two day hike
into the Kanuku mountain range, soon to be Guyana's second national
park. There we were hoping to visit a clay lick frequented each morning
by many parrots, including macaws. Unfortunately the only path up this
rugged and dense rainforest mountain trail was blocked by downed trees.
Forced to turn back we were able to spend a lot more time with other
members of St. Ignatius. The proposition was made to Paul that should
the village stop trapping macaws for a trial period of one year we would
help find the funding to build a village owned and operated tourist
lodge. Within hours Paul had organized those involved in the trapping of
wildlife and they had all accepted our proposal along with the added
bonus of offering to help repopulate areas in the lowlands with a macaw
We were also privileged to meet with Guyanan Member of Parliament,
Shirley Melville. MP Shirley is an Arawak Amerindian and well known
activist who is passionate about Amerindian rights and conservation
issues. Shirley is excited and anxious about the possibilities of
establishing a village owned and operated eco tourism effort. Shirley
and I have also been exploring the possibilities of starting a virtual
cultural exchange program with a school in the Rupunui and one here in
Massachusetts offering students pen pal opportunities as well as the
ability to learn more about life in each others community. Shirley adds,
"I am very happy for the recent development as it is very timely. For
the past couple of years I have held discussions with different village
representatives about the need to be more pro active and to become more
organized with community eco tourism but even more important is to bear
in mind the need to do it in a sustainable manner. I must point out that
Conservation International has been working in the area for the past
three years and they have worked assiduously to try and make our people
aware about the need to conserve and protect our environment."
"However, it is still a horrifying sight to see the birds being shipped
out in small boxes as in our hearts we know that many of them would not
reach their destination. Having Brian and Marc come down to the Rupununi
to have a one to one with the people is very impressive and important.
Brian and Marc are assisting our people greatly with an alternative to
earning an income as well as ensuring that many of our endangered birds
and animals are going to see many tomorrows. The cultural exchange
program could assist immensely with the partners recognizing what it is
they each have and how they can learn from each other and assist each
other to conserve and preserve." states Shirley.
There are so many opportunities and we are all excited to see what
unfolds. Brian and I will be returning to Guyana soon to finally
complete the 4 day hike into the Kanuku mountains to the clay lick,
natural hot springs, Harpy eagles' nest and home to the Cock of the Rock
and Jaguar. We will update all as soon as we return and we hope to have
enough video to produce a comprehensive overview of Guyana and our new
friends of the Rupununi, Paul, Shirley and the Macushi village and all
of our efforts to save the wild places parrots (and many other animals)
Closer to home: A Request for Your Thoughts and Prayers.
One of Foster Parrots most dear volunteers, Sue Folkins, has been
diagnosed with lung cancer. Sue has been a loyal volunteer (for over 2
years now) and is a devoted caregiver. We will all miss her whilst
being treated. Sue is also guardian to Tiffany, a moluccan cockatoo and
I know that all of our cockatoos will be waiting for her return with her
box of crackers. Get well soon Sue, we will all be thinking about you,
missing you at the shelter and your support for our ongoing conservation
Find out more about the Guyana Conservation Project....
Another year has begun and Foster Parrots has many exciting and
groundbreaking programs in store! We hope to offer an update with a
fresh newsletter every other month and when something exceptional
happens we'll try to slip in an extra edition.
# Letting go of Richard, by Karen Lee
Richard's tumor was nearly the size and shape of a pecan by the time it
had exhausted her. But for almost one year she carried her burden
without complaint, determined to live without compromise. Medical
examination had revealed an inoperable sarcoma. Euthanasia had been the
recommendation, but we knew that the only one who could truly determine
when Richard's time was drawing near was Richard herself. There was no
question that, event usally, the tumor would drain away Richard's
quality of life. Until that time, we knew, we had to respect the spirit
of the bird.
Richard, a female Patagonian Conure, was one of Foster Parrots' original
residents, having arrived at the sanctuary in 1995. She was ten years
old when she arrived. A dominant presence in the barn, she was a
virtual socialite who held status and respect among her circle of bird
friends. Richard had a fondness for bells, and for the way her voice
would resonate when she stuck her head inside, so we hung bells in her
favorite places throughout the barn. She would sometimes nest in low
cubbies or in boxes that were provided for her. She would fill these
places with collections of shiny objects, and defend those possessions
fervently. In spite of her nakedness and her portentous deformity, she
had won the adoration of an Indian Ringneck male named Hannah, who was
Richard's long time partner and dedicated companion. He was always by
I guess we imagined that Richard would go on forever; happy, active,
busy with her shiny possessions, her bells and her bird friends, nipping
at the feet of bothersome humans who might over-step certain invisible
Richard boundaries. But in October of this year, 2004, we began to
notice that Richard was slowing down considerably. Flight, once
effortless despite the gravity of the tumor, was becoming a labor for
her. Soon she was walking the floor far more often than she was
cruising through the hanging branches above. By early November it was
simply too difficult to hoist herself into the air, and her breathing,
we could see, was stressed by her activity.
The quality of life issue was now at hand. It was time to let Richard
go. But the decision was still too painful, too obscured by the shades
of gray. No, she can't fly well, but she's still eating pretty well.
No, she can't breathe comfortably, but she's still active and she still
has her devoted bird friends. She still has Hannah. Is she in pain?
What if she's not in pain? What if it's a bad time that will pass?
What if she just likes to be on the floor?
Letting go of Richard was a heart wrenching decision. "We have to try
to use our objectivity", Marc had said. This was not to suggest that we
should be clinical or unemotional, but rather, we needed to avoid being
emotionally selfish. The pain, the despair, the guilt, the regret -
were all feelings centered around us, not Richard. Richard had carried
her giant tumor around for months. It had sucked energy, blood and life
from her - for months. It was becoming painful for her. It was time to
let Richard shed her pain...
To Find out More about Foster Parrots No Kill Policy...
# In Memory of Wolfie by Ginni Bly
Twenty years ago, or so, there was a sexy TV tough guy named Beretta who
had a very special sidekick...an umbrella cockatoo named "Fred" ....as I
recall. Fred could talk, was frequently humorous, cuddly, and ...
without doubt Beretta's best friend. Years later, the TV tough guy and
Fred were canceled, but I never forgot them and longed to have a
beautiful white bird like that.
I was one who made frequent pilgrimages to the local pet shops and on
one such trip there was the bird of my dreams. For weeks, I visited the
shop and made friends with the bird until the wonderful day came to take
him home. Without hesitation, I paid the $800 for "Wolfie" who I had
named for the movie Amadeus. After short consultation with the shop
owner, I decided upon a wrought iron cage that, in retrospect, was
reminiscent of an upside down medieval chandelier, impractical,
attractive if one intended to use it in the foyer of some stately abode.
I had made my second momentous mistake...the first being the purchase of
this magnificent creature without the benefit of research to acquaint
myself with his needs, care, environment, diet. With smug pride, I
marched my precious charge out of the shop in a cardboard box. Once
home, I set up the cage which complimented my living room decor nicely
as it set in the corner by my rough sawn beam mantel.
Wolfie spent his days in his cage which was marginally larger than he
was---but---it was a nice piece of furniture.... At night, Wolfie was
able to come out, and soon became bored with sitting on the door of this
cage. The mantel, however, provided hours of entertainment. It soon
became apparent that there would be little mantel ( a 3" beam) or rough
sawn wall behind it left. But, I loved Wolfie and it didn't seem to
matter. Wolfie screamed a lot when we were home...no T.V. for sure. But
I loved Wolfie and it didn't even seem to matter.
Then, in the twinkling of an eye, everything changed. Wolfie began to
fall. At first I thought he was playing. Then I realized he was hanging
onto his perch for dear life and couldn't right himself. He began having
seizures. I wanted him to be playing. How I wanted this not to be
happening. But it was. I was devastated as week after week I journeyed
to a veterinary hospital many miles from my home. Test after test, the
best avian vets the state had to offer, Angel Memorial Hospital...no one
could tell me what was happening to Wolfie. He just kept getting worse.
On New Year's Eve, 1987, I took him, weak and frail to bed with me and
held him close and asked God to take him. But morning came, and I was
faced with the excruciating ride to end Wolfie's life.
To Wolfie I dedicate my endless commitment to the birds at Foster
Parrots in an effort to forgive myself for not being prepared for the
proper care, environment and needs of a captive creature who...should
never have been in a pet shop for me to purchase . ....who never asked
to live in a cage in the corner of my living room like an ornamental
piece of furniture.. .... whose right it was to fly free in the wilds of
his native Australia....
What can I do to help?
# Why did the chicken end up in the trash can? by Tami Myers
Foster Parrots volunteers and employees rescued 9 chickens from a farm
supply store at the end of July last year. They were "leftovers", birds
that were not sold and destined to a life (a very short life) in 2 foot
by 2 foot pens (6 or 8 in each pen) until they were big enough to be
eaten. These lucky nine (one rooster among them) have been living a free
and happy life in our 3/4 acre back yard and are now providing 48 eggs a
week which all go to volunteers and neighbors who would otherwise buy
supermarket eggs. These wonderfully friendly chickens are not only
raising awareness among our visitors and volunteer staff to the plight
of the egg industry but they are also winning hearts as many learn about
the true nature of these wonderful birds. Last November PJ McKoskey,
formerly with Fund for Animals, brought us a chicken. One of two found
in a trash can of discarded unproductive hens. She was still alive,
barely. Feet curled and nearly frozen we nestled her into a warm blanked
under a heat lamp. In the morning she was eating well and Tami took her
to the vet for a checkup and then to her home where this lovely little
bird has made a total recovery.
November in New England can be brutal. The severe biting cold winds,
piles of snow and the painful sting of sleeting ice can make living here
a struggle. We can scurry into our warm dwellings, wrap ourselves with
heavy covers and become comfortable as we settle into sleep, warm and
comfy. This of course is not so for many farm animals. The wind roars
and the sleet pings on the roof of an egg farm where tens of thousands
of hens live in a metal warehouse. The stench from their piles of
droppings is so horrific that people cannot enter these warehouses
without gagging. The hens live crammed into small cages, have had their
upper beaks painfully burned off to prevent aggression and the hens who
are trampled, dead or dying lie there as the eggs roll over them to
tumble down the assembly line.
One bitter cold day in November an egg farmer did as all egg producers
do from time to time. Hens get old, tired or sick and as is the custom
in the egg industry, they are replaced with a younger birds. These
"spent" hens are simply tossed out in the trash. Hundreds of thousands
of delightful hens are bulldozed into trash cans and dumpsters or
disposed of in wood chippers. One little hen, plucked of her feathers,
covered in feces, limp and barely alive was in amongst the heap. She was
fortunate to have been rescued and brought to Foster Parrots. This
little hen was named TC, for Trash Can and she is one determined little
TC is now fully feathered and adores a life free of the filthy dark and
dirty cages crammed with numerous other hens, climbing on top of each
other seeking a quiet place to roost. She now nestles in a bed of
pillows and sleeps on my headboard. She has fully recovered from the
abuse she suffered in the "egg factory". A sign that all she needed was
a little TLC was given to us last Friday, she did what only a health
bird can do..... she laid an egg, followed by one a day for the last week!
Read more about parrot advocacy at "The Angry Parrot"
# Two new board members bring valuable experience to Foster Parrots Board.
I would like to introduce everyone to our two new board members, Vivian
Wexler and Lance Connolly. Vivian is a corporate attorney who has
experience with non profit work and is a dedicated parrot rescue
enthusiast to boot! Lance and his wife Kelly have been volunteers here
at Foster Parrots for nearly 4 years now. Lance is an analyst at an
investment firm with an interest in parrot welfare. Kelly continues to
offer her volunteer time to help with this newsletter and as recording
secretary of FP board meetings. Foster Parrots is proud and honored to
have such dedicated professionals as part of our team.
Read on about Foster Parrots Mission...
# Donate Directly to Foster Parrots via Network for Good
Please remember Foster Parrots in your annual charitable giving. Your
support is always need and always appreciated.
Non monetary donation always welcome.....Foster Parrots always needs the
usual bird stuff; paper towels, cotton or terri-towels, new parrot toys
as well as facility improvement items.....2x4's, cement mixer, plexi-
glass, and a snow blower!!!
Guidestar's Network for Good
Foster Parrots, Ltd. · PO Box 650 · Rockland · MA · 02370
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The Pet Trade BITES and we are biting BACK!
National Activist Campaign Coordinator
Foster Parrots Ltd.
Boycott PETCO, PetsMART and Petland
Don't support Pet Breeding Mills
"Like all intelligent thinking creatures, there would always be those
that wore out their welcome. Some would be too noisy, some would grow up
to be nasty and some would be cast out when their owners grew tired of
them or went through a life change."
Howard Voren - birdmill breeder speaking about parrots