Abeni’s Adventures in Birdland: Volunteering at a Parrot Sanctuary (For The First Time)

I’m still due to share my experience of how I survived my first networking expo on October 24 (as a shy girl), but yesterday’s events are just totally worth sharing. I’m still on Cloud 9 from it all, and here’s how it all began….

On that sunny Saturday morning, I woke up before my alarm clock, which doesn’t happen often. I did the usual to get ready: take a shower, brush my teeth, pack my favorite little southwestern Liz Claiborne crossbody bag, blah blah. All the while, I’m thinking to myself: is this all gonna be worth it? I set my expectations low for the day to save myself any future disappointment. Just last Friday, I was going to volunteer at a homeschooling academy, but nobody at the school showed up for anyone to do anything. I kind of expected this to happen, though, so I was bummed but not enough that it ruined my day. But enough of that part, back to the story!

I caught a ride to campus and made my way through to the Lake Claire pavilion to meet with the other volunteers attending. I carpooled with the coordinator and some other kid who was also in VolunteerUCF (I’m bad with names, hello but he had a nametag that I didn’t get to look at). A half-hour of sightseeing later, we finally arrived at Patty’s Parrot Palace.

I initially assumed that it would be totally outdoors. Nope! It’s all indoors in a building filled to the brim with parrots of all kinds from all walks of life. From every inch of the room, squawks were heard and whistles were made by the lovely feathered residents (the only time I ever want to be whistled at, honestly). I won’t lie, it did smell. But it’s an animal sanctuary and the smell of dung is very common in these types of places so that didn’t bother me. After meeting up with staff (including an Avan Jogia lookalike…yes lawd!) and taking a quick look into each room, we as volunteers were instructed to first scrub down and clean the cages. From here is where it gets FUN!

My first cage that I cleaned belonged to an African Grey parrot named Rock. It was honest-to-God my first time seeing pretty much ALL of these parrots in the flesh, so naturally, when Rock climbed down his cage and came face-to-face with me, I was a little stunned. Aside from throwing down his food bowl, he was a chill bird. One of the most endearing parts of my day was when the African Grey next to him named Gypsy grabbed onto my rag while cleaning the side of Rock’s cage. I didn’t realize that until I tried to pull the rag away and looked down. Low-key, I was like “Gypsy…wyd.”

If you’ve ever been around parrots before, you know that they get LOUD, and I’m not referring to J.Lo’s song.

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I wish I could stick my phone in the cage and get a clearer photo of him but considering this is my very first time handling birds and I didn’t want to mess anything up, you’ll have to deal with the blurriness. Sorry y’all!

See this green one here? He’s beautiful, isn’t he? But holey moley, he could shatter windows with his screaming. Strangely enough, he’s a parrot I wouldn’t mind owning at all!

After everyone finished scrubbing cages in this room, we advanced to the front room with the smaller parrots (the first room was just the medium-sized birdies). I cleaned this one’s cage here first:

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Taken LONG after I finished cleaning his cage.

I have no idea what species this is, but he seemed to really love my face. As I was cleaning his cage, he followed my face wherever it went. If I was on the right, he would climb right. If I was on the left, he would climb left. Once I noticed this, I played around with it. “What’s with ya?” I asked him, but he kept following. I don’t remember the name of this beauty, but I hope he’ll remember my face when I come back because he’s my new favorite one now.

Trish, our boss, moved us to the cockatoo room to change the newspaper linings (some of them were full of shit and I was like “Ewww!”, but then I told myself “Abeni, you signed on for this. Plus, you want a bird, don’t you? This is what you’ll have to deal with so GET TO IT, missy!”). These things are GIGANTIC in person! I was so in awe from seeing them in the flesh for the first time that I was practically almost brought to tears. There was even an ORANGE crested one that I thought I would never see in my life.

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LOOK AT HOW ORANGE HE IS! (This is Dundee and I’ve unofficially named him my child)

I’m gonna be honest and say that I want to rave some more about these beautiful birds, so to sum up the rest of our duties, we put food bowls into each bird’s cage in the macaw room. Oh boy, they have a ton…even military macaws! Macaws are also gigantic in person, although I’d seen them plenty before in zoos.

After it was all said and done, we ate pizza and did some sightseeing on our own. Along the main hallway, I saw these…

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THEY HAVE FACES!!!

…and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t squeal with sheer joy upon seeing them. I’ve always been in love with rosy-face lovebirds and seeing this made me want to reach in and squeeze their cute little faces. *insert endless crying emojis here*

Before we had pizza, though, was the best part: having some of them perch on us. I got to have this lil’ baby perch on my arm:

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Also my child. A yellow-crested cockatoo, sadly it is critically endangered and I’m tearing up writing this because we need to protect this species AT ALL COSTS.

He climbed onto my shoulder and I got probably the most hideous photo ever of my face, but also the second most epic photo I’ve ever taken.

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The caption still rings true. He grabbed on my choker though and it caught me off guard. Still a cutie.

Of all the birds in there, though, the cockatoo room houses my favorite parrots thus far. Sulphur-crests, umbrellas, and Goffins, oh my! The Moluccan had a neckbrace on but still managed to be a big flirt: among his vocabulary is “Hey, baby!” and an actual wolf whistle. I don’t know his name yet, but he’s already my fave too. Such a bold one, that bird.

Just look at these though:

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HE HAS CHEEKS!!!
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The same one, but WITH A CREST!
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The one next to him. I’ve also named this one my child. Just LOOK AT HIS FACE!
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The Goffin. He seems to love me after saying “hello” to me a lot.

It goes without saying that I love cockatoos especially, but parrots in general are extremely precious and beautiful and need to be protected at all costs. I left knowing that after all that they’ve been through, all these beauties are in the best hands; people that work hard to provide them with the loving care they need. Nothing but sheer love and positive vibes for Patty’s Parrot Palace and everybody running this organization. Oh, and the parrots, too!

Overall, Saturday was a life-changing and therapeutic experience. I’m still on Cloud 9 from it and I’m dying to come back here again super soon. I’m so in love with these darlings, and I hope at least that lil’ green bird will remember my face! 🙂

Abeni, out! xo

BONUS:2016-10-29-13-57-112016-10-29-13-57-15

Only the second most epic photo I’ve ever taken, this is Gypsy on my arm. And wow, I actually look AMAZING here! I’ll see you soon, kiddo!

 

 

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