Birdie Walk, A Ceiling Playground

By Suzanne Cromwell

Background: My husband, Larry, and I adopted two Timneh African greys from Phoenix Landing, Napoleon and Josephine. These birds are former breeders, now 48 years old. Over the years, we have tried to give them plenty of personal space so they feel safe and comfortable, and to facilitate their ability to fly so they are empowered to make choices about their activities. While living in Virginia, the birds liked to fly to a wooden beam running between the bird room and the breakfast area. When we decided to move to Florida, it was a good time to design a room for the birds that supported their ability to fly, and to have a high space to land.

What did I want to create in our bird room?  Our new room for the birds has an 11′ ceiling and no existing beams. I wanted to make sure the greys could still get exercise and the benefits from flight, as well as incorporate full spectrum lighting, a structure for the birds to fly to and play on, and something from which to hang toys. I also did not want to have any electrical wiring exposed and the light bulbs protected.  The following is a description of what we created and call the “birdie walk.”

The birdie walk is a 21 foot rectangular structure made out of bird-safe untreated wood. It is 8 inches wide and hung from the ceiling.  We made sure the structure hung low enough so that the birds could not eat the ceiling.

The side pieces of bird-safe wood are 6 inches on both sides, with ½ round trim.  The trim molding is screwed in with stainless steel screws so once it is destroyed it can easily be replaced without destroying the structure.  If the birds chew the ½ round trim, this can easily be replaced!

Birdie Walk

The birdie walk is secured to the ceiling rafters by metal rods and HVAC straps. Electrical wiring for the lights are attached to ceiling junction boxes located above the ceiling. The metal rod supports, HVAC straps and electrical wiring are enclosed in PVC tubing to keep the birds from chewing through these important structural elements. Full spectrum lighting is installed in the unit, and the lights are included in boxes with a removable plastic grate.

We use hemp rope around the supports to hang natural wood perches or baskets full of toys and chew pieces. You could screw into the bottom of the structure to hang more toys or activities depending on the capabilities of your birds. The birdie walk provides many creative opportunities for hanging bird play and foraging activities!

Birdie Walk2

The birdie walk is visually attractive and our greys spend many hours playing on it or with the toys, flying up and down, or just overseeing all the activity in the room.

Our birdie walk is 21 foot square but the same idea can be made in any configuration to work in your bird room. Our birds like to go around the whole surface of the birdie walk or fly from one side to the other. Our Timnehs love the bird walk and use it daily. Good luck with yours!

Meet our adoption coordinators: Debbie, Maryland

Celebrating National Volunteer Week, we are sharing interviews with the Phoenix Landing adoption coordinators for different areas. Debbie has been an adoption coordinator for Phoenix Landing for a long time, and has helped Phoenix Landing help many birds over the years.

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Debbie and Joey

1. For what area are you the adoption coordinator for Phoenix Landing?
The state of Maryland.

2. How long have you served in this volunteer role?
Since February 2007, so a little over 10 years!!

3. How did you first learn about or get involved with Phoenix Landing?
In 2003, I was looking to purchase a bird or find a rescue because my son wanted his own bird. I found Phoenix Landing (PL) on-line and submitted my application to foster. After having a home visit and attending a few classes, I started fostering and never looked back. I have fostered many parrots over the years.

4. There are many causes and non-profits out there to get involved with, why did you choose this one?
I chose PL because of my love for parrots, the people I met and the education they offered. I have been involved with other pet rescues and the amount of education PL offers is amazing. I’m always learning something new!

5. What do you like most about volunteering with Phoenix Landing?
I like the fact that Phoenix Landing makes all new applicants fill out a detailed application, attend a required event and have a home visit before they will even consider placing a bird with them. Lots of people go out on a whim and get a pet and then have no idea how to care for it. I like the fact that PL takes ownership of the parrot they bring in for life and that they have a plan in place in case something ever happened to our founder, but most of all I enjoying helping parrots in need as well as helping new parrot owners acquire a pet.

6. What else would you like to share about yourself, about volunteering, or about Phoenix Landing?
I have owned my own parrots for over 30 years, but my family always had parakeets and lovebirds when I was growing up.

I currently have 9 parrots and 1 soft bill. Most were adopted from Phoenix Landing, two were adopted from Best Friends in Kanab, Utah and a couple were given to me! I have 4 macaws, a grey, a cockatoo, 2 conures, a meyers and a green aracari. Three live with my son at our beach house. Plus I have 2 rescued Italian greyhounds and a boxer.

I have found volunteering for Phoenix Landing has been very rewarding, so if you want to get involved, please contact us. We are always looking for volunteers.

Meet our adoption coordinators: Ron, Raleigh/Durham, NC

Learn more about Ron, our adoption coordinator for the Raleigh-Durham area in North Carolina in his interview below. He is one of the many volunteers who helps Phoenix Landing help parrots!

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Ron

1. For what area are you the adoption coordinator for Phoenix Landing?
Raleigh/Durham, NC

2. How long have you served in this volunteer role?
Since April 2014 (three years)

3. How did you first learn about or get involved with Phoenix Landing?
My avian veterinarian often spoke of Phoenix Landing; however, I learned the most by attending a Phoenix Landing Step-Up class. The class taught me much needed skills and increased my confidence so that I could shift my way of thinking in order to solve a behavioral issue within my own flock. Those skills kept me from having to re-home one of my parrots.

4. There are many causes and non-profits out there to get involved with, why did you choose this one?
As a parrot lover, I have always tried to learn as much as possible about how to provide my flock the best possible care. In doing so, my eyes were really opened to the many issues parrots and owners face. It was much worse than I ever imagined. As someone that has always enjoyed volunteer work, it simply made sense that I would volunteer with Phoenix Landing.

5. What do you like most about volunteering with Phoenix Landing?
I like when a neglected parrot goes to a new home where it is loved, fed a proper diet and given daily socialization and enrichment. Watching a once neglected parrot flourish is amazing as well as rewarding and exciting. It is as if they have been given a brand new life.

6. What else would you like to share about yourself, about volunteering, or about Phoenix Landing?
My involvement with Phoenix Landing has been life changing. Attending step-up may have been my introduction to Phoenix Landing; however, it was simply the catalyst to years of learning and meeting some of the most amazing friends.

Meet our adoption coordinators: Jackie, Greenville/Spartanburg, SC

The Phoenix Landing adoption coordinator for the Greenville area of South Carolina is Jackie! If you are in the Greenville area of South Carolina and are interested in either adopting a bird or becoming more involved with Phoenix Landing in order to help more birds, let us know by contacting us! Jackie shares information about volunteer opportunities with Phoenix Landing in her interview below.

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Jackie and LucyLui

1. For what area are you the adoption coordinator for Phoenix Landing? Greenville/Spartanburg, SC

2. How long have you served in this volunteer role?
5 years (I’m guessing!)

3. How did you first learn about or get involved with Phoenix Landing?
I was researching parrot agencies where I could volunteer. I came across Phoenix Landing and signed up for a STEP UP! Class and the rest is history! I adopted a parrot I worked with during STEP UP! And became more involved with transport and helping with area bird adoptions.

4. There are many causes and non-profits out there to get involved with, why did you choose this one?
Because Phoenix Landing is more about the right placement for each parrot than they are about pushing parrots out the door into any old home. The requirement for each potential adopter to take one higher-level adoption class is key and that requirement sold me on Phoenix Landing. There are people who “think” they want a parrot and after taking a class that goes into the required care, caging, enrichment, nutrition, possible noise, etc., people know what they are getting into and go into the adoption process with their eyes wide open! Also, Phoenix Landing makes sure that a particular parrot is right for the adopting person/family and that the parrot will be “happy” with the lifestyle in the new home. A loud, active home may not be a good fit for every parrot, so it is good to know that someone is not just looking to place a bird, but to place a parrot in a mutually beneficial environment with a person/family.

5. What do you like most about volunteering with Phoenix Landing?
I enjoy the variety of parrots, but most important to me is working with older parrot owners. Many older people have to make tough decisions about placing their parrots because the person is getting older, may have health issues, whatever the case may be, but they know they need to place their beloved pet in the best situation going forward. Most are so glad to know that their parrot will have a home for life within the Phoenix Landing system and that should their pet need to come back to Phoenix Landing for any reason whatsoever, it will happen. And it happens quickly so that the parrot is back in a cared for, healthy environment while we look for its next home.

6. What else would you like to share about yourself, about volunteering, or about Phoenix Landing?
I wish I were more outgoing so that I could grow the Greenville/Spartanburg parrot group! If there is anyone out there who wants to help get the word out in the Greenville/Spartanburg area, please don’t hesitate to STEP UP! There are parrot owners in this area and I want to reach them, get them involved in classes, get to talk about their parrots, and see everyone updated on parrot ownership in today’s world where nutrition, housing requirements, and enrichment of these wonderful pets is key to their health, happiness, and longevity.

Meet our adoption coordinators: Liz, Hickory, N.C.

Continuing our celebration of National Volunteer Week and the numerous volunteers who make what Phoenix Landing does, possible, today we are highlighting our Western North Carolina adoption coordinator, Liz! Liz has been volunteering with Phoenix Landing for years, but is our newest adoption coordinator, having just agreed to officially take on the role last week!

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Liz and Mango

1. For what area are you the adoption coordinator for Phoenix Landing?
Western NC, Hickory Metro, covering approximately 5 counties. My home is in Morganton NC, Burke County

2. How long have you served in this volunteer role?
Just agreed to become official last week. But have helped teach a few classes at The Landing in Asheville and with the help of our volunteer and friend Lannie Ellison, I have set up education booths at bird fairs and pet expos for the last 4 yrs.

3. How did you first learn about or get involved with Phoenix Landing?
We met them at a booth that was set up at the Pet Expo in Hickory about 7 or 8 years ago. We adopted some Bourke Parakeets that had come out of a situation in Catawba County.

4. There are many causes and non-profits out there to get involved with, why did you choose this one?
Local and common interests and viewpoints. My husband and I also work with National Shetland Sheepdog Rescue, and Carolina Great Pyrenees Rescue.

5. What do you like most about volunteering with Phoenix Landing?
It’s rewarding to meet and talk to people and educate them on the care and long term commitments to our feathered companions. I love spending time at the Landing in Asheville and am constantly learning new things.

6. What else would you like to share about yourself, about volunteering, or about Phoenix Landing?
I’m Tuki’s mom! Nuff said. HaHa And working with Ann, Mary, Kevin, Leigh Ann, Jenny, and everyone else I’ve met along the way. I consider them all personal friends.

Meet our adoption coordinators: Nina, Wilmington, NC

In honor of National Volunteer Week, we are continuing our celebration of the numerous volunteers who make what Phoenix Landing does, possible! Today we are highlighting our Wilmington, NC area adoption coordinator, Nina!

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Nina, Wilmington, NC adoption coordinator

1. For what area are you the adoption coordinator for Phoenix Landing?Wilmington, NC.

2. How long have you served in this volunteer role?
Almost 7 years.

3. How did you first learn about or get involved with Phoenix Landing?Recommendations of other parrot lovers when I was in Asheville for a veterinary conference.

4. There are many causes and non-profits out there to get involved with, why did you choose this one?
Outstanding reputation, philosophy, and focus on education.

5. What do you like most about volunteering with Phoenix Landing?
Teaching others about parrot behavior, nutrition, health, and care.

6. What else would you like to share about yourself, about volunteering, or about Phoenix Landing?
I highly recommend the “Step up” classes and the Parrot Wellness Retreat for anyone who loves parrots and wishes to expand their knowledge.

Information about the “Step Up” classes is available at http://www.phoenixlanding.org/events.html. The next Phoenix Landing Wellness Retreat will take place in 2018. Stay tuned for details!

Meet our adoption coordinators: Jenny, Virginia

It is National Volunteer Week! As an all-volunteer organization, Phoenix Landing Foundation would not be able to do the work it does for parrots without our numerous volunteers! It isn’t possible to highlight everyone individually, but we decided this would be a wonderful opportunity to help everyone get to know our volunteer Adoption Coordinators a little better. So, for the next few days, we will profile them!

We will start with Jenny, our Virginia adoption coordinator!

Jenny with her Cockatoo and African Grey

Jenny, with her Cockatoo and African Grey

1. For what area are you the adoption coordinator for Phoenix Landing?
Virginia

2. How long have you served in this volunteer role?
10 years

3. How did you first learn about or get involved with Phoenix Landing?
In 2003, I was in a pet store with my grey Henry. She was on a harness, and spent most of the time chewing on it, desperately trying to remove it. (We don’t do harnesses anymore). While checking out, a Phoenix Landing volunteer who happened to work behind the register gave me a newsletter, and I contacted the main email to see how I could help. I was the education coordinator until 2007 – helping to put together the newsletters back when they were a quarterly magazine, and developing classes. I later moved into writing books about behavior, but since 2007 have been the adoption coordinator.

4. There are many causes and non-profits out there to get involved with, why did you choose this one?
Easy! Because I love birds and want to help them.

This group is focused on the birds: providing optimum care, being good role models, and educating caregivers. I have learned so much from the speakers we’ve had through the years.

We’ve had just about every significant voice in the parrot community share their wisdom with us.

And of course, Ann [Brooks] makes everyone feel appreciated and welcome. She is the best!

5. What do you like most about volunteering with Phoenix Landing?
Making a great match between bird and family. Sometimes it takes a while. I remember placing a grey with a family. The bird loved the dad, but wasn’t too crazy about the rest of the family. After a few months, it was obvious that the placement would not work out. However, I was struck by how kind they were, and how they wanted for the parrot to go to the right home. It was painful for them to give the parrot up, even though he wasn’t the best match for them. A few months later, we received a relinquishing form for a caique. I thought of them, and contacted them out of the blue to see if they would be willing to try again. They were happy to hear from us, and decided to try fostering the bird. It was a perfect match! The entire family interacts with and loves the bird – and when on vacation, they wait for pictures from their bird sitter daily! It was a very happy ending.

6. What else would you like to share about yourself, about volunteering, or about Phoenix Landing?
I have a Moluccan cockatoo, a grey, a pionus and a quaker. My web site, jennydrummey.com, has videos, articles and more information about parrot care.

We have a great group of volunteers but can always use more! The species we need the most help with fostering are the big birds: macaws, cockatoos,and amazons, and this need continues to grow daily. Anyone who is interested in what it’s like to live with larger birds should consider fostering through us first. You can learn if the commitment necessary for large parrots is one that you can deal with.

If you are interested in volunteering with Phoenix Landing, email us at phoenixlanding@earthlink.net.