Posts Tagged: birds

VIDEO: Watch this if You’re Thinking of Adopting a Bird!

Noah Horton, assistant director

Yesterday, you learned a little about my experience renovating Carolina Waterfowl Rescue with our Rescue U team at the beginning of this month and met some of the permanent residents of CWR. Today I want to share how I learned about bird adoption and became more enamored with the idea of birds as pets.

Things to Consider Before You Adopt a Bird

I got a chance to talk with CWR director Jennifer Gordon about bird adoption and learned a huge amount. The considerations for adopting a bird are totally different than those for adopting a dog or cat. For one thing, dogs and cats are both natural predators. Most birds are considered prey animals. Knowing this one fact can change the way you look at a bird.

People often assume when meeting a bird for the first time that birds are unfriendly, when the truth is, they are naturally on the defensive until they are comfortable with you. Jennifer told me, “Most people say birds who they initially thought were unfriendly were eating out of their hands within a week.”

Furthermore, each type of bird requires a totally different type of care. Birds like parrots are very smart and require enrichment and interaction to stay happy. These are not good pets for people who are very busy and cannot spend time with their birds. Geese, on the other hand, can be left outside with proper shelter and a small pool and remain content without much human interaction. However, any bird who has imprinted on a human requires a large amount of human interaction. Watch the video above to learn the difference between imprinted, habituated and feral birds, and to hear some other considerations, such as your home’s zoning, that go into bird adoption.

 

How Our Assistant Director Became a Bird Guy

Noah bonded with Rupert the duck over his two-week stint at Carolina Waterfowl Rescue.

Noah Horton, assistant director

For most of my life, I was a self-proclaimed cat person. Don’t get me wrong: I love dogs — I’ve always just sided with felines. Maybe it’s their subtle personality quirks, or the way they make you work for the relationship, or the way they fall asleep for 19 hours a day and let you stack things on top of them and take photos. Whatever the reason, that has always been a part of my identity. That is, until last week.

You see, for the first two weeks of the year, I was with our Rescue U team in Indian Trail, NC, renovating a bird sanctuary. Carolina Waterfowl Rescue takes in tame and wild birds, gives them a safe and cage-free place to live, and works to find loving homes for the adoptable birds. The only bird rescue in the state, CWR adopts out about 1,800 birds a year and houses around 200 at any given time. The birds include ducks, geese, swans, turkeys, chickens, pigeons, herons, peacocks and cockatiels. Suffice it to say, it was a big change of pace from our usual Rescue U renovations of shelters that house mainly dogs and cats.

My Experience with the Birds of CWR

This yard of ducks is a typical scene at CWR.

When I first saw one of CWR’s many yards, full of swimming, quacking and waddling ducks of all kinds, I thought, “Look, a bunch of ducks.” Sure, I could tell the difference between the mallards and the Muschovys and the domestic Pekin ducks, but within those groups, they all seemed to be clones of one another. This is what I see as the biggest challenge for bird advocates: To an outsider, individual birds’ appearances don’t make them as easy to connect with as dogs or cats. But like I said, one of the reasons I’m a cat guy is I like that I have to work for the relationship. And I could tell from watching the regular CWR volunteers interact with the birds that there was plenty of relationship to be had!

Mr. “T” the Turkey

Mr. “T” the turkey had a thing for Liz Baker, executive director of the GreaterGood Foundation.

Mr. “T” the turkey is one of the flashiest birds on the 11-acre property. A domestic breed of turkey, he imprinted on humans immediately after he hatched, and feels more comfortable around humans than other birds. He is constantly puffed up in a full-feathered display, walking around trying to impress all the volunteers and any other people on the property. He walks up to you and prances back and forth as if to say, “Aren’t I pretty?” You can tell by the way he cuddles you that he appreciates a good pet to let him know you saw him. And you can tell by the way he reacts to different people that he recognizes them and has favorites. He really had a thing for Liz Baker, executive director of the GreaterGood Foundation (which fully funded the renovation through The Animal Rescue Site), and would make his neck extra long any time she was around to show how big and tough he could be for her. Because Mr. “T” is imprinted on humans, he requires a lot of attention and is not adoptable. Instead, CWR uses him for educational purposes, bringing him to local schools and adoption events.

Rupert Huneycutt the Duck

Rupert imprinted on humans when he was born. His original family gave him a collar that he still likes to wear.

My personal favorite was Mr. Rupert Huneycutt the duck, another permanent resident. He followed the volunteers into the main shelter building every day for lunch, waddling and chatting us up with a “quack, quack, quack” the whole time. When you walk up to Rupert, he tilts his head down and to the side, so he can look at your face. This is something I never knew a bird would do, but the staff at CWR assure me birds can remember the faces of many people, and after years of no contact, will remember people they especially liked. I actually witnessed a woman who volunteered at CWR a few years ago come to visit during the renovation. I was told Mr. Fuzzy the Canada Goose had really liked her when she was a volunteer. Sure enough, when Mr. Fuzzy saw her he quickly ran to her for a pet and to say hi. I like to think Mr. Rupert liked me, and after about a week he would allow me to hold and pet him, and gave me plenty of love nibbles.

The Love Story of the Black Swans

These beautiful black swans are a mated pair and do not leave each others’ sides.

The emotional capacity of the birds is amazing. A lonely or under-stimulated bird will refuse to eat or will self-mutilate (pull his feathers out). But birds also exhibit this behavior when those they love are in trouble. There is a beautiful mated pair of black swans at CWR (swans mate for life) whose story exemplifies this. The male swan had lost his previous mate before coming to the rescue and was extremely sad. The volunteers at CWR worked hard to make sure he ate. One night, an injured female black swan was brought in. The male, in the yard, heard her cries in the main shelter building and sat outside the wall closest to the female for weeks until she was brought outside. She slept in the kennel next to him, and he would scoot close to her and talk to her all night. After another couple of weeks, they began their courtship dance (a mating ritual performed in the water where the two swans perform intricate neck and wing movements), and they are now inseparable.

By the time I left the CWR, I could recognize the birds for who they were — individuals with distinct personalities who care for each other and the humans who look after them. Most of the permanent residents of the rescue, including Mr. “T” the Turkey, Marm a Lade the Rooser, Rupert the duck and Pringles the Grey Goose, have such big personalities, they have their own Facebook pages, which I encourage everyone to take some time to visit.

Bitten By the Bird ‘Bug’

After my two weeks at CWR, birds have a big place in my heart. As CWR director Jennifer Gordon told me: “It’s kind of a bug you get. Once you start working with the birds, it’s hard to stop.” Birds connect with you the same way any pet does — you just have to learn to see the signs; it’s like learning a new language. You have to dig a little to get to the connection (like cats), but once you’re there, it’s incredibly satisfying. Birds, as prey animals, have to make a conscious decision to let you get close to them, which makes your relationship special.

The number of dedicated volunteers who work with the birds at CWR every week is a testament to the power of the birds’ personalities. CWR is a 100% volunteer-supported organization, which means that 100% of donations go directly to the care of the birds who live there. To learn more about volunteering or donating to CWR, visit them online.

As for me, I’m still a cat guy, but now I can say with confidence that I’m also a bird guy. And I really miss Rupert the duck.

 

VIDEO: Rescue U Helps Carolina Waterfowl Rescue Rebuild

Noah Horton, assistant director

When Carolina Waterfowl Rescue was hit by a tornado in spring 2012, wind destroyed many of the structures that housed the adoptable and wild birds the rescue cares for. Kennels, cages and full sheds were blown across the property; feeding areas and barns lost their roofs; and several birds were injured. Rescue director Jennifer Gordon remembers the day the storms hit: “I was outside scrambling to get supplies in the shed, and the roof was lifted off, just like you see in tornado movies.”

Local volunteers made initial repairs (CWR is an all-volunteer organization), but the rescue still needed help. So Rescue U volunteers from Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kentucky, Arizona, Washington and North Carolina took time off work or gave up their school vacations to renovate the facility. Our projects include a new barn to store supplies and serve as a bird habitat, privacy fencing around the goat enclosure (CWR is also home to rescued goats!), more than 1,500 feet of chain-link fencing surrounding the property to keep out foxes, raccoons and other predators, repair on the existing fencing and gates, and several habitat and feeding structures around the property, including one on an island that can be reached only by kayak.

Mr. Pringles, a grey goose, will benefit from the barn being built by Rescue U volunteers. “Pringles is the dominant goose,” says rescue director Jennifer Gordon, “so he will be able to pick his spot in the barn first!”

The barn, in particular, will be a godsend. Many of the cage-free waterfowl prefer to roost inside when it is cold or rainy. Rescue U volunteers will build several of the raised beds they normally build for dogs to keep the birds off the ground, since birds lose a lot of body heat through their feet. Most importantly, the barn will provide protection for all the birds in the case of another terrible storm. “We get a lot of storms here,” Gordon says. “It will be nice to know we have a safe place to protect our birds when another one hits.”

This project was generously funded entirely by The Animal Rescue Site. Volunteers are here until Jan. 11. Stay tuned for more updates on construction progress and the pets who will benefit from the work!

 

Rescue U Builds a Barn to Protect Adoptable Birds

Noah Horton, assistant director

A curious Canada goose comes to the island to check on the progress of his new pole barn.

Today I experienced a little bit of island life. No, there weren’t any piña coladas, Hawaiian shirts or tanning sessions — I was working on an island at Carolina Waterfowl Rescue in Indian Trail, NC, as a part of our current Rescue U renovation project. (Read more about the renovation.)

A Rescue U volunteer ferries building supplies to the island via kayak.

CWR has around 150 adoptable birds at any given time. The majority are cage-free waterfowl, and those birds need water to swim, for enrichment and grooming and to avoid predators. There are several small ponds around the 11-acre property that serve this purpose. The largest pond surrounds a small island on which the geese and ducks at the rescue can sleep overnight to keep themselves safe. However, they were still vulnerable to birds of prey such as owls at night. Rescue U decided to build a pole barn — a small barn without walls — on the island to protect the birds from aerial predators and the elements and to keep the food kept on the island dry in the rain.

The only way to get to the island is by kayak. This makes building a bit of a process, as all tools and supplies must be ferried across the pond. And because the barn would rest on uneven ground and the boards had to be cut at odd angles, each board had to be measured and marked on the island, sent back to the mainland to be cut, then ferried back and installed. Finally, after a huge team effort, the whole pole-barn team and I were on location with all the supplies we needed to get the job done.

It took all day, with curious adoptable geese frequently coming over to say hello and check on our progress, but by the end of the day, the barn was completed. The waterfowl now have a little extra protection from the elements and predators.

In the coming days, Rescue U volunteers will be building a feeding box to store under the pole barn so food won’t need to be taken to the island by kayak as often, and will stay dry once there. Stay tuned for more updates!

Noah (center) and other volunteers celebrate the completion of the pole barn, which will protect many of the birds at the rescue.

Rescue U Renovates a Bird Rescue!

Joyce, a volunteer, cares for two adoptable geese at the rescue.

Rescue U is gearing up for our trip to Carolina Waterfowl Rescue in Indian Trail, N.C., from Dec. 31-Jan. 10. This renovation will be vastly different from any we’ve done in the past.

Until now, we’ve focused on shelters that care for dogs and cats. On this build, we’ll be working to improve the lives of ducks, pigeons, swans and other adoptable birds.

Carolina Waterfowl Rescue sustained considerable damage from the tornadoes of spring 2012, leaving the animals there without shelter. Thanks to a generous grant from GreaterGood.org and The Animal Rescue Site, we’re building a new barn to protect the birds from predators and the elements.

The barn will be 20’ x 45’ and will feature a storage area, a veterinary exam room and an animal holding area. It will include windows, garage doors and a ventilation system. We also will be building an enclosed outdoor exercise/play area for the birds.

Many structures at the rescue were tornado-damaged. The new barn will provide space for the birds to roost and stretch their legs.

Because the pathway into the rescue is currently rutted, muddy and often impassable, we will be putting in a gravel driveway so that staff and potential adopters can easily get to the barn and the rest of the facility.

We will also be building four 16’ x 8’ carports with feeders (to shelter the outdoor animals), and putting in fencing. Although we are only enclosing the southern and eastern perimeters of the rescue, we’re still installing approximately 1,200 linear feet of fence.

All that is a lot to accomplish in a week, but we’re confident that the determination and work ethic of our volunteers will shine through. Rescue U volunteers from all over will come together to share ideas, learn new skills and unite in a common goal: helping to save adoptable pets.