Education at the Refuge

 Posted by at 12:02 pm  No Responses »
Apr 182012

Here are some of the informational and educational posters around the Refuge. 

April 14 Posters Many of these have information about what birds eat and how to keep them happy in a home, like ideas like foraging and play. There are also species-specific informational posters throughout WPR to teach people about the various types of birds living at the Refuge, as well as from where they originate. There’s the self-guided-tour board and a number of warning signs throughout to keep both humans and parrots safe. Rosie the Macaw did a stand-up job making sure I read the posters in the informational display. Thank you, Rosie!

Horst was busy outside putting up some more of the educational banners along the walkway up to the entrance. There will be about a dozen or so when he’s finished.

Wendy told me that there will be two new outdoor flights being built, as soon as the weather is amenable. The posts and fencing was already there, now all that’s needed is a few days of sun to get them up!

22 photos – 2 pages


Other photos from the day:

Meet the Birds

Meet Some Staff

Jun 192011

Posted with permission from Written by Jonathan Martin.

Calgary Parrot ClubIn a first for Canada, and joining some of the more progressive bird clubs of North America, the Calgary Parrot Club (CPC) has shaken its ties to an earlier era, and embraced compassion as its overriding objective. Members of the CPC voted overwhelmingly to place the welfare of captive and wild parrots above the secular interests of parrot breeders and owners – individuals and companies who far too often view these magnificent creatures as mere objects or handy cash machines.

In so doing, the Calgary Parrot Club has closely aligned itself with the World Parrot Refuge in Coombs, on Vancouver Island.

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May 102011

The wonderful students at Diamond Elementary held a special fundraiser in order to sponsor Sassie, the Blue and Gold Macaw. They raised $520 – enough to fully sponsor Sassie for a whole year! Their class teacher is Ms. Howard, who personally sponsors Ewok the Amazon and Iggy the Moluccan cockatoo. What a creative way to teach children about both parrots and giving back to one’s community! The coloured parrots are so fun, and the enthusiasm of the children is palpable.

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Sep 142010

Do you know anyone who hoards birds or other animals? The World Parrot Refuge has received an email from a researcher with the television show Confessions: Animal Hoarders on Animal Planet. They work with the Humane Society of the United States, as well as friends, family, psychologists and social workers to offer solutions that are effective and compassionate to both the animals – and the person trying to care for them.

Animal hoarding is defined as: “… (a) failure to provide minimal standards of care for animals, denial that there is a problem… coupled with obsessive attempts to maintain and even increase the number of animals in the face of deteriorating conditions.” (Gary J. Patronek, VMD, PhD)

Why is the World Parrot Refuge getting involved? In Wendy’s words:

“I do think this is very important because we do get birds from such situations already in the making. I hear often from Ann of Phoenix Landing about the terrible situations in the US. Two this year alone were 1000 birds in one home and 100 in another. Needless to say most of them died.

I have received many parrots from such situations – although not in large numbers. Each and every one of the birds has arrived in very poor condition. I know these people start off with the best of intentions, but they have no clue as to the reality of the workload or the cost. The saddest part, of course, is that people who want to rid themselves of a problem just dump their unwanted pets on these already overburdened people.

We need for people to know that there are good places for these parrots to go to. If the World Parrot Refuge was televised so that people could see how parrots should be kept, I think it would truly make a difference.”

If you care about someone who might be an animal hoarder – or care about their pets – you can reach the Animal Hoarding Project at this link.

May 052010

This article has been reposted with the kind permission of Ambika Shukla.

Imagine being confined to the same room day after day, week after week, year after year. You cannot choose when and what you eat, how you spend your time, whether you have a partner and – if you do – who that partner is. Imagine never being able to seek out the company of another person, take a walk or decide anything for yourself.

If you can imagine this, you have some idea of how frustrated birds are when they are cooped up in cages. Just ask John Abraham.

A longtime animal supporter, John posed for a PETA print ad with the slogan “No One Wants to Be Caged: Let Birds Fly Free”.  Says John, “I crawled into a human-sized cage to depict the sad plight of birds imprisoned in cages. Birds are born to fly great distances. Keeping them jailed is a cruel thing to do and possibly the worst form of punishment anyone can think of for a bird”.  (Note: You can view the ad here.)

Click the link to finish reading the article:
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From Here to Forever

 Posted by at 12:06 am  1 Response »
Mar 212010

Grey Bird’s caregiver (see this story) wrote the following letter to Wendy after considering how he could give Grey Bird the best future that he possibly could.


I am impressed with your organization.

I have a Congo African Grey Parrot. She is female and is about 15 years old. Compared to some of the birds on your site, Grey Bird is in great shape. She has all her feathers and does not pluck herself, but her quality of life is not the best!

I have reached a point in my life when I would like to travel a bit. I cannot do so with her. She does not do well if she is moved! And I do not feel good leaving her.

A few weeks ago I saw a DVD entitled “The Cove”. It was about the slaughter of dolphins in Japan and about the dolphins that are captured and sent to “sea exhibits” around the world. The producer was the person who trained the original Flipper in the Flipper television series. Flipper ended his life in this man’s arms. Dolphins and whales are the only animals who can will themselves to stop breathing and this is what Flipper did. It opened this man’s eyes to the level of suffering of dolphins in captivity.

I think the same level of suffering is true for parrots! It opened my eyes.

What do dolphins and parrots have in common?

1. They are both highly intelligent creatures.

2. They are both VERY social animals.

3. They are both capable of living a long time. I think parrots outlive dolphins.

4. They both suffer a great deal in captivity.

Parrots cannot end their own suffering, but some of their “captive” behaviours make one think that they want to!

I tried to be a good owner. I rescued Grey Bird. There is no comparison to what she was when she came to me and what she is now, but I failed her as well.

What I see on a much deeper level now is that parrots cannot be kept happily as pets by a single owner in a cage, any more than dolphins can be happily kept in a sea world environment. Neither is possible.

Parrots should not be offered for sale.

In my other life I was a biologist. I majored in animal behaviour – ethology. The study of ethology teaches very clearly the difference between “tame” and “domesticated”. Dolphins and parrots can be easily tamed but never domesticated.

All wild animals have what are called flight distances. This is the distance a wild animal will let you approach before they attack or run. Sociable animals like parrots and dolphins can reduce this distance to zero. They allow human contact. This is the definition of “tame” – flight distance is reduced to zero. “Domestic” means the animal can thrive and do well in a human environment. Most domestic animals could not survive in any other environment. Cats, dogs, and cattle are some examples, but this is not true of dolphins or parrots. Most do not thrive.

Parrots require tremendous stimulation.

Alas poor Grey Bird leads a most deprived life. She has had the best of food (pellets!), care, etc, but I have failed her. She does not know that she is a bird. I know this. She actively courts Magi, my Papillon. What can I say?

I do not think it is in a parrot’s best interest to be someone’s pet.

Like I said, parrots are tamed, not domesticated. They need to be in colonies of their own kind. Like training Flipper did for the producer of The Cove, having Grey Bird has made me see very clearly how totally wrong it is to keep a parrot as a pet. I am her future, and I want to do what is best for her.

I want to give her the best “forever” future I possibly can.


May 142009

This is an important video that all prospective pet parrot owners should watch – courtesy of the American network, CBS News. (Note: They mention that some people release their birds – please do NOT do this. It is a virtual death sentence to parrots in North America where they have no flock, natural food, or survival skills!)

Watch CBS Videos Online

WPR as Community Resource

 Posted by at 11:10 am  No Responses »
Mar 092009

Wendy, Ann, Val, Grant, and a few feathered advocates for the Refuge recently participated in a Professional Development day for regional high school teachers. It was a great opportunity to educate the educators regarding the plight of parrots, both in the wild and in captivity.

Wendy with Peaches

Wendy with Peaches

Ann with the PED Day Display

Anne with the PD Day Display

Jun 132008

We would like to thank Robin Horemans for sharing his experiences, and also the Calgary Parrot Club for permission to reprint this article from their publication, Calgary Psittascene, on our website.

The World Parrot Refuge Visit, April 2008
By Robin Horemans

I was fortunate recently to take a vacation on Vancouver Island. There, I visited the World Parrot Refuge, in Coombs BC. It’s about half an hour from Port Alberni. To be honest, I’ve never really been a fan of ‘sanctuaries’ or ‘forever’ aviaries. I’ve always thought some birds can be rehabbed and live happy and healthy lives with humans. Sure, sanctuaries have their place, but save those places for the birds who really need them.

Make it the Insane Asylum, the Rehab centre. Let the ‘normal’ birds move to a new, fantastic family. Little did I know what I was about to experience! I have worked with rescues before, so I’m familiar with the trauma, heartbreak, suffering and healing that is involved. I was mentally preparing myself to see 700 birds that have been given up on: who are sad, grieving and torn up inside. I was expecting to see self-mutilators, obsessive-compulsive behaviors, screaming and sad eyes of creatures who have given up hope.

I walked through the aviaries of macaws first, then the amazons. I was amazed at the large spaces the birds were given. The aviaries were the size of a house, filled with trees, perches and every kind of toy. A large set of aviaries just for the cockatoos, filled with many different species of ‘too. There was no sad eyes, no grieving, no depression.

Instead what I found was a vibrant community. A thriving flock of souls who had been through the worst the world could offer and were healing together. They preened together. They played. PLAYED like children: throwing and destroying and screaming and flapping for the fun of it.

I saw large flocks of 50 of their own kind, with all the intricacies. There was a sentry, watching. There was a couple, oblivious to the world and cuddling together. There were the Jokers, getting into trouble. I saw squabbles for perches, food, toys, attention. I saw birds, being birds. It was fantastic!

Then, at the end of the aviary was the ‘Transition Room’. The newcomers to the rescue were getting used to their new-found freedom. This is where MY education began.

In this room, the birds are caged separately to begin with. They come to the rescue knowing only their cage, and their humans who have given them up. They need to get used to the ‘new’ way of doing things.

Slowly, the cage door is opened and the birds are left to venture out on their own. A large set of branches and trees intertwine around the room, allowing for clipped birds to experience more freedom. Eventually the wings grow out and they start to fly and become part of the flock.

I started going cage to cage, saying hello and giving head-rubs. I soon found myself with two African greys who had waddled over and were now chewing on my shoes. I reached down and both demanded head-rubs. The overwhelming sense of healing was everywhere. The amazons looked exhausted and slept. The cockatoos demanded petting, or solitude. Everyone screamed. They were all learning how to be birds again.

Then the most moving part of my experience happened. A man came in to surrender his bird.

It was a cockatoo: it was plucked and had a wound on its front from mutilation. But the bird was friendly and sociable, sitting on the man’s shoulder and getting attention. The man was crying as he took his bird out of the carrier. He was facing the difficult decision to surrender his bird.

She sat on his shoulder as he walked around the room, tears in his eyes. She had a firm grip on his shoulder. They toured the room, saw the cage she would be living in for the first few days, and a volunteer explained how life would carry on after that. The man nodded. The bird stared.

Being introduced to the ‘locals’, the bird made a surprising decision. She suddenly jumped off the man’s shoulder onto the cage top perches in front of him. Fully alert, crest up, she marched over to a high perch, and right up to another bird of her species. The new friend looked at her, obliged, and started preening her head. She leaned over and closed her eyes.

The man stared at her, tears rolling down his cheeks.

She was home.

She refused his hand for a step-up. She refused a head-rub. She moved away from him to a higher perch. She put up one foot and started preening.

I was crying watching all this go on. I can only imagine how that man must have felt. Sad, deserted, alone, yet happy to provide this creature with what she needed. A flock of her own!

I have sincerely readjusted my view of rescues. I was profoundly moved by not only what I saw at this fantastic facility, but how the birds were happy, healthy and comfortable. I am so proud of what this rescue does for the birds. The life they live is as close to natural as we can provide. I hope they continue with their heaven-on-earth for the birds. I can’t imagine a place I’d rather Quentin go.

Clean! Clean! Clean!

 Posted by at 4:19 pm  2 Responses »
May 082008

Caring for 700+ parrots is a never-ending job. The dedicated staff and volunteers of the World Parrot Refuge start every morning at 7am and work continuously until 8pm, mainly with feeding and cleaning. It’s a never-ending cycle of activity as I hope this two-part video will illustrate. And of course there are lots of winged “helpers” …

Here is “All In A Day’s Work (part 2)