Adoptable Bird Pairs

Birds will often make friends with other birds. When the relationship is safe (they don’t hurt each other), and they aren’t mating, we like to see them enjoy their lives together. After all, having someone else in your family that looks, thinks and acts like you can be comforting and entertaining. Can you imagine being the only human?

Here are just a few of our bird pairs/friends looking for their next good home through Phoenix Landing. While they certainly enjoy and benefit from each other’s company, they can enjoy a human family’s time and attention too. Since people cannot mate with parrots, and we shouldn’t over-snuggle, stroke or pet them anyway, having two birds that keep each other good company makes for a healthier and happier household for everyone.

Here are a few of our current adoptable pairs, and there are several others of various species waiting for our help.

TORI and GABRIELLE are nanday conures. Their age is unknown but they’ve been together at least seven years. They are dedicated companions, snuggling every night. During the day, Tori is pleased to fly around and spend time exploring. Gabrielle always stays on or in the cage, and has a more cautious nature. Tori will land on your shoulder if you’re a trusted person, but Gabrielle prefers her personal space. We think they’re adorable, especially their little red ankles.

Tori Gabrielle

QUORK, a scarlet macaw, and BETSY, a military macaw, came from a rather horrid place many years ago. Their ages are unknown. They were not companions then but now they are cage mates and best buddies. Their past was left behind long ago and all that matters to them now is that they have places to go and things to do, keeping them mentally and physically active. They are terrific eaters of a wide variety of healthy foods. Quork will chatter upon occasion, and knows his name. He likes to have his tongue touched at bedtime. GIZMO is a 24 year old blue and gold macaw that likes to hang out with Quork and Betsy, and these three go together to an outside aviary almost every day. Macaws are so enchanting. Just watching their antics is usually more than satisfying.

GizmoQuorkBetsy

PIP SQUEEK, a 14 year old sun conure, and SWEET PEA, an 18 year old nanday conure, are a charming pair. They very much appreciate their human family too, especially Pip. She’s the first to come out and seek family interaction and easily hops up hoping for a walk about the house and an adventure. Pea is a bit more of a homebody, but he adores Pip. You may wonder why Pip is so bald. We wonder too. The feather follicles have long gone, and she’s been tested for every possible medical problem.  Her medical workups are always excellent.  She is just unique!

Pip and Pea

OLLIE, an 8 year old blue and gold macaw and LAYLA an 11 year old scarlet macaw are entertaining to say the least. They have been together for almost 8 years. Ollie is a boisterous, happy and clever macaw. He loves to trick train and even knows when to say “good!” Layla is very attached to Ollie and doesn’t like for him to be out of sight. They will often bicker, or maybe they are just having a significant discussion, but they love a bit of drama. We’re glad they have each other to keep life engaging for both.

Ollie and Layla on Atom

ESSIE is a 17 year old greenwing macaw and URSIE is an 18 year old blue and gold macaw. These two would fit best into a home where they are allowed lots of time outside the cage. They love sitting on a tree stand, and especially enjoy looking out the window. They entertain and take care of each other while you enjoy and admire their beautiful parrot dynamics. They relish their Harrison’s pellets and most any fresh fruits and vegetables. Ursie and Essie especially love almonds and walnuts in the shell. Like many birds, they are not very interested in being touched, but that’s OK.

Ursie and Essie

If you’re fascinated by birds and interested in adopting a pair, please go to our web site at phoenixlanding.org where you can learn more about our adoption and education program.   And don’t forget, birds don’t have to be bonded pairs like the ones listed here to enjoy simply having another bird in the family!

Birds Need Bird Friends Too

“Young birds are easy” as Liz Wilson used to say, to make a point.  It’s true.  They are eager and generally compliant. When sexual maturity rolls around, behavior and relationships may start to change. Remember your teenage years?

For parrots, natural behavior changes can mean that a favorite person or bird must be fiercely protected; Amazons are notorious for this. Cockatoos, especially males, can be highly unpredictable or will clamp onto you and try to bite when you put them down. Macaws will raise their wings in defense of whomever they are trying to protect (maybe teaching the “eagle” trick is not such a good idea?). Other behaviors could include charging the perceived interloper, screaming for more attention and interaction, nesting, egg laying and yes, masturbation.

Harley

Oftentimes, people are not willing to adjust their own behavior and expectations in order to live with a sexually mature parrot. Sometimes the advice is to get the bird a mate, or find it a new home, or punish it (yikes). Other times, the parrot is relegated permanently to its cage or to a back room, both less than optimal outcomes for the bird that is simply following its nature. Don’t get me wrong, there are positive ways of coping with these behaviors successfully; however, the number of sexually mature birds is usually greater than the number of people willing to learn how to live harmoniously with them.

Jake Tink

As a rehoming organization that never has enough homes for the birds needing our help, Phoenix Landing does not advocate simply providing a mate for a sexually mature bird. If all captive parrots started making more babies, we’d have an even greater homeless problem.

Tiels

However, birds living in captivity certainly deserve to follow their natures to the greatest extent possible, and one very important part of a parrot’s nature is the desire to have other bird friends. Some wild parrots live in large flocks, others live in small family groups; but all wild parrots live with other parrots to some extent. These social groups help to keep them safe from predation, and maximize their ability to find food, nests and other important resources. For this reason, Phoenix Landing does advocate that birds not live alone in households (in most cases).

Fred (BGM) keeping Peter (GWM) company in the hospital

Fred (blue and gold) keeping Peter (greenwing) company in the hospital

Here then lies the problem – many people want a parrot because of their expectations of what the parrot provides in that relationship; and when a young, “easy” bird grows up, they start to express their needs in the relationship also. But we are not their mates or parents, so we have to learn to have an appropriate relationship with them, primarily as their friends. They probably deserve some bird friends too.

Ollie and LaylaHaving more than one bird can be a space, time and finance challenge, but it can also be easier for everyone. Birds learn from each other, often teaching their friends how to eat better food, shower or play with toys.  They entertain each other, taking some of the burden off of the humans.  They don’t need to live in the same cage to enjoy all the benefits of having birdie friends.  Since even the smallest parrots should live a long time, it’s important that we find ways to sustain a long-term relationship for everyone.  Stay tuned next month for some stories of Phoenix Landing bird friendships, including some of our adoptable birds!

Smokie, Our 2,500th Adoptable Bird

Welcome Smokie! You are the 2,500th bird to enter the Phoenix Landing adoption program.

Smokie 2500th

Smokie was a very important member of his first family for 24 years.   He spent most of every day with his favorite person, but recently lost her to illness.   While we wish to keep our birds “forever,” that is rarely possible.   Not only should most birds live a long time, longer than our children stay at home, but our own lives can change very quickly due to health, finances, relationships, time and interest. So now Smokie is an important member of the Phoenix Landing family.

WHY BIRDS NEED NEW HOMES
With 2,500 birds now in our system, we can give you a pretty good idea about why most birds need new homes.   The most common reason: “not enough time and attention.”   If you live with a bird, you know that they are highly social creatures and require a bit more care than most other pets (cleaning and feeding for starters). It is hard to sustain any relationship, but especially when an animal is physically and mentally dependent on us for much of their daily lives.

The good news – birds are very resilient and adaptable. This means they can get through tough times with us. It also means they can learn to flourish in new places when needed.

FINDING NEW HOMES
Now comes the hard part. While every bird deserves to have a succession of good homes, finding new homes is not easy.   First we have to overcome concerns about a bird’s history and misconceptions about adoption. Phoenix Landing believes that every bird is adoptable, no matter their past; and even those few parrots that are truly “rescued” from negative situations can go on to lead healthy and happy lives.

BrandyOneWingOne-Winged Brandy Now Flourishes in an Aviary Most of the Year

Second, living with a bird is just different. Many of you reading this understand that what makes parrots different is also what makes them magical, entertaining, compelling and wonderful. You also know that extra effort and time is involved, not to mention financial resources, space, family cooperation, trust-building skills and a dedication to learning.   Parrots are not for everyone, and there are far more birds needing a place to live than there are places for them.

HOW OUR ADOPTION PROGRAM WORKS
The Phoenix Landing philosophy, first and foremost, is to look out for the bird’s best interests – not only when they first come to us, but over their entire lives.

When a bird enters our system, they are initially in foster care. Sometimes this is with a foster family just helping on a short-term basis. However, most birds are placed with a family that is hoping to adopt. The foster period, about 2 months, gives everyone, especially the bird, a chance to know each other and see if it is a good match. If it is, and the bird is adopted, our adoption contract stipulates that the bird remains under the legal protection of Phoenix Landing, and WHEN (not IF in most cases) they need their next good home, Phoenix Landing will be responsible for this placement.

TinkTink, Lilac Crown Amazon Looking for His 2nd Phoenix Landing Home

If you live with and love a bird, then you can understand why we are so adamant about looking after a bird for its entire life, not just its next placement.   EACH home should be a good one.

2,500 IS REALLY MORE LIKE 3,500
So, taking in 2,500 birds since our adoption program began in 2003 does not mean that we have found 2,500 homes. Oh no, it’s far more than that – closer to 3,500. In addition to some temporary foster homes, about 15% of our birds have already needed more than one adoptive home.

THE GREAT PEOPLE THAT MAKE IT HAPPEN
Finding new families, screening applicants, teaching classes, moving birds, going to the vet, following up after adoption — that’s a lot of work by our incredibly dedicated volunteers who work so hard, in addition to their own jobs and families. These remarkable individuals can never be thanked enough for all they do, but a well-placed parrot in a new home is one of the best rewards possible!

Volunteers PLJust a Few of Our Many Amazing Volunteers

Maybe you would like to be part of the solution and offer a bird a new place to land? We always have 150 or more birds waiting for our help, or some of the 2,500 that have already been adopted often need their next good home. If you have the time, resources and the willingness to learn, we’d love to hear from you.

Or if you already have a bird and just want to learn more about living with and caring for parrots, we offer many informative classes. If your bird is going to be with you for a long time, learning new things and sharing ideas will keep life interesting for both of you!

For more information about our adoption and education program, go to phoenixlanding.org.

An Accidental Landing – Building Trust and Appropriate Expectations

Who’d have known.  One spring day, on a trip to the Pet Expo, we met some cute chirping Bourke parakeets and had an introduction to Phoenix Landing that took us on a journey we never expected.  We came home soon thereafter with those cute Bourkes and that was the end of it.  Or so we thought.

On our trip to The Landing for our parrot care training class, we met some of the many Phoenix Landing foster birds.  This included a loud, cantankerous Moluccan cockatoo named Tuki.   So many sites tell us to do our homework, prepare for the bird we choose, learn if you have the ability and the time to dedicate to them.   This is especially true of large macaws and cockatoos.  Kudos to the folks who work diligently to assure them great homes.  These large birds live an exceptionally long life, and even under the best of circumstances should outlive more than one home.   Sometimes we do not know the background of these intelligent gifted creatures or what they take with them from home to home.

Tuki 08 at Rosettas

Photo by Paul Howey

As we walked around the building we were introduced to a variety of birds.   I was especially fond of a blue and gold macaw named Lily who liked to play catch.   HMMM I thought, someday………the bird of my dreams, a large macaw.  Beautiful and entertaining.  Yes, someday that would be the parrot for me.   We stopped at Tuki’s cage.  I was sticking my fingers in and giving head scritches, (although the sign told us to NOT to put our hands in the cage and teach the birds to bite!) until he got irritated and struck back.  “Oh, don’t worry Ann, I’m fine, it’s just a little blood.”   But as he reached his full leg and large nailed foot through the cage bars, we heard the words, “Look, he’s picking YOU.”  Really?  I have worked with adoption organizations for enough years to know what that means.   In their heart of hearts they were thinking, “Maybe? Could this be the family we’re looking for?  The folks who would take a chance on this mature, male, Moluccan cockatoo with a history?”  In the time he’s been here I’ve learned that big clawed foot reaching through the bars means, “come here my sweetie, the better to bite you.”  We learn, we grow, we adapt.

So against all the sage wisdom and hundreds of internet parrot education sites, we decided to give Tuki a chance.  Bob drove up the mountain that day, loaded a double macaw cage in the car, got Tuki into a travel cage, got bit 4 times before all was safely packed and loaded, and headed back down the mountain for home.  From what I’m told it was an adventure in noise tolerance the entire trip home.  One hour and thirty minutes of full blown TOO SCREAMING.  Bob swears the truckers kept looking over to see who was being killed in the front seat while he was driving home.

Tuki at Liz and Bobby's

Tuki is 15 yrs old.   If history is correct, he had one home for 8 years until he reached sexual maturity, then some of the typical cockatoo challenges began.  He then had a series of foster/adoptive homes that for reasons of their own did not last more than a couple years each.  His independence and lack of trust, his potential biting and screaming, had earned him quite a reputation with Phoenix Landing folks.   Everyone knows of Tuki.  Mention his name and heads nod knowingly, sly smiles, whispered mumblings all around you. Lucky for Tuki and us, he is an independent bird.  And lucky for us, Tuki likes chaos.  Our house is chaos.  The noise level is usually high.  And Tuki thrives in the environment we are able to provide.

We had Tuki several months before we fully decided to adopt him.   Despite the original assumption that Tuki liked Bob, it became readily apparent that Tuki and I were kindred spirits.  I do LOUD really well.  And thanks to my job experience many years ago working in zoos, I understand wild animals and body language really well also.  We’ve had a few bites along the way.  I can say with certainty they were our fault.  I was told to watch his eyes; his moods would be reflected in his eyes.   WHAT?  Are you serious?  Those inky black pools couldn’t possibly show anything.   How wrong that assumption.  Those inky black pools are most definitely the windows to his soul.

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One of Bob’s mantras is not to develop preset expectations.   And since we were relatively ignorant of the ways of Toos, we simply welcomed Tuki into our home and from the first day accepted him as he is.   How were we to know otherwise?   And we have time on our side.  If he lives to be 80, and I’m 54, well you do the math.   He has blossomed here; we’ve all learned respect, patience, trust, and mischief together.

The first time he did a step up, scared the bejesus out of me.  I had been working with him to shake hands.   I reached in to rub his toes and WOW suddenly he was on my hand.   I turned to Bob and asked, “WHAT NOW?”   Since that first time, we can dance, walk around the house, move from cage to stand to cage.  But, of course, only when Tuki is in the mood.   He loves showers, outside time, and wandering around on the floor.   Since he’s been here he as torn chunks from the sheet rock, shredded my curtains, made kindling out of my dining room chairs and curio cabinet.   Toos do like to tear things up.   We only forgot to lock his cage doors twice – we learned.

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He’s a pain in the butt, he stalks Bob, he loves head scritches, dancing, singing, and barking with the dogs to warn of intruders.  He plays ball, shakes and rattles his bells, and shreds as much cardboard and pine blocks as I can bring home.   He expertly dismantles every new toy or foraging tool I put in his reach.  He flaps and jumps and sings from the cage top in the evenings, usually just as the National News comes on TV.  He loves peanut butter, birdie bread, almonds, mangos and toys.  Yes, he still screams but mostly at appropriate Too Times.  When Tuki screams, Sam (a Great Pyrenees) howls.   I think he does it on purpose.  He helps me make breakfast on weekend mornings by joining me at the prep table or hanging sideways to supervise my work.   He still hates hats and brooms and paper towel tubes.

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He is the most beautiful, intelligent, entertaining, companion creature I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.   Had we done our homework, had we planned for bringing in a large Too, we might also have developed unnecessary expectations of him.  And we might never have brought him home.   Which is why I call his the “accidental landing”.

Accepting these birds on their terms is critical to their well-being.  And to the humans who live with them.   As Tuki’s trust grows, so does our bond.  On his terms, not mine.  He has his days.  Hell, I have mine.  There is so much I don’t know.  There is so much I worry about.  He will have a home here until I am no longer able.  I hope that when that time comes, his next home will welcome him on the same terms and allow him to be what he is – a great bird.  He’s not a child, not a puppy, let me repeat, he’s a mature male Moluccan Cockatoo with attitude.  And we love him.

I post videos and photos all the time on my Facebook wall.  Tuki has his own fan club.   He even has a portrait painted by a good friend.   He may not have his own aviary, or bird room, or 8 hours a day of ME time, but he’s ok with that.  We’re all ok with what we are able to provide for one another.  I marvel at his beauty and intelligence.  He makes me laugh every day – sometimes just because he can laugh.   Even at appropriate times, like when he sneaks up and startles Bob.

Where I once had a dining room table and chairs, we now have a double flight cage of Bourkes and a single flight with Cricket the Rosella.  Where I once had a curio cabinet and guest chair, I have a double macaw cage for Tuki and a monstrous climbing tree.  Where I once had curtains – well I don’t have them anymore.

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Sometimes you have to just trust your heart.  Fate can play an important roll in some decisions we make in life.   On those days when I worry, when I think maybe this is not enough, I stop and realize Tuki has been here a relatively short time.   And along this journey we’ve met some great new friends.   Learned all sorts of new skills.  Toy making has become a weekend event.  Bob likes to tell folks that I cook for the birds better than I do for him.  A leap of faith?  Or an adventure in ignorance?  Does it really matter?  I think not.  What matters is Tuki.

Sometimes the most unlikely chance is the one chance that is needed.   Thanks to all the Phoenix Landing folks, especially Ann and Mary.  Thanks for taking a chance on a couple novices.  Thanks for providing new homes for these birds.  Thanks to all the folks who work with these magnificent birds.   And thank you for trusting us with Tuki.  Don’t believe what others tell you, he’s awesome.

CampTukiSign painted by Jill Casteel

Mardi Gras

On Saturday, March 3, 2012, Phoenix Landing hosted its 5th Annual Mardi Gras!  This event is intended for potential adopters to meet a wide variety of adoptable birds and learn about different species.  We had a range of parrots there from parakeets to cockatoos.  There were parakeets, cockatiels, a Quaker, a Senegal, Conures, Lories, Meyers, Amazons and Cockatoos.

Meet some of the parrots looking for new adoptive homes:

Riley, a Black Capped Lory

Xavier and Tootie, Meyers

Kiwi, a Senegal

Luke, an Umbrella Cockatoo

Gabe, a Jenday conure

The event was attended by lots of people and lots of birds went to new approved homes where we are hoping they will be a match and get adopted. In order for birds to move to new homes from this event, you must have already submitted your application, attended a required class and had a home visit done.  For more information about this process, please visit our website at:

http://www.phoenixlanding.org/adoption.html

2012 Mari Gras

At each Phoenix Landing event we sell supplies and usually have a raffle to benefit the parrots of Phoenix Landing.

Phoenix Landing Sales Tables

Phoenix Landing Raffle

Phoenix Landing puts on 3 events like this one each year in the DC metro area. Upcoming adoption events:

  • 9th Annual Luau, Saturday, July 14th in Springfield, VA
  • 2nd Annual Fall Festival, Saturday, October 6th in Springfield, VA

Please mark your calendar and join us!

Paying Forward

AS THE YEARS GO BY, Phoenix Landing assumes protective custody for an increasing number of birds.  We strive to maintain responsibility for them for their entire lives.  Since birds live a long time, we believe that each home should be a good one.

This is very personal for me because Phoenix , my greenwing macaw, should outlive me by several decades. I am “paying forward” in the great hope that someone will look out for Phoenix when I no longer can.   Do you worry about your bird’s future the way I do?

Ann & Phoenix

This idea goes to the heart of what Phoenix Landing stands for:

  • It’s not often that one person can care for a parrot for their entire life (assuming the bird remains healthy);
  • Birds deserve to have a good home each time, not just in the home that first acquired them;
  • The term “forever home” is highly discouraged when it comes to parrots.  Even the smallest parakeet can live 20 years, and frankly, very few people remain committed or able to provide a long-term home.  People’s lives change, through no fault of their own, due to health, marriage, children, money, jobs, housing, family responsibilities, and even death.   Caring for parrots can also be hard work.
  • Ideally, non-profit parrot organizations will offer a mechanism for ensuring a succession of good homes for any bird that comes through their system.  This means the organization needs to be sustainable for a very long time, and not just operated by one person or out of someone’s house; unfortunately, those organizations don’t tend to last as long as a parrot’s healthy lifespan.  I am so grateful to everyone that is involved with Phoenix Landing, because our strength and longevity will come from many of us each doing a small part.  We are all “paying forward” and I’m guessing you want the same safe future for your birds as I do for mine.
  • One way we can help parrots is to encourage adoption.  Let’s inform people that all companion birds deserve to have a succession of good homes.  Someday your bird will likely need one or more new homes too, and you’ll want those to be good ones.   Let’s promote adoption as the norm, not just something for the “rescues.”
  • Another way we can help parrots is to teach people that birds are resilient, regardless of their past.  Nature has built them to be adaptable in order to survive. Phoenix Landing rarely uses the word rescue because this word conjures up a sense of abuse, neglect, harm, and baggage.  Most of the birds that come to us are from loving homes where it is just no longer possible for them to care for a bird; but even true rescue birds are likely to adapt if given an opportunity to thrive.  I have yet to meet a parrot that was not adoptable, there is usually an appropriate family for each and every one.

Moose and Gizmo
Moose and Gizmo macaws were adopted in 2006, and they are now
looking for their next new home.   They are delightful birds!

Since 2003, Phoenix Landing has taken responsibility for over 1,940 birds.  So far, about 150 of the adopted birds have been re-homed, and foster homes often change too.  As the years go by, a growing number of Phoenix Landing birds will need to be adopted again and again.  The good news is that we put the same hard work and effort into finding the 2nd, 3rd and 4th homes as we did the 1st one.

 TiffanyHeadshot1
Tiffany, a Citron Cockatoo
Looking for Her Next Home

In a handful of situations, we have lost track of a bird because someone chooses not to abide by the specific policies outlined in our foster and adoption agreements.  I must confess that it deeply disturbs me when someone disrespects the goodwill intentions of Phoenix Landing, and most importantly the long-term interests of the bird.   We will never give up trying to keep a watchful eye on every bird that comes thru Phoenix Landing.

One of the ways we try to keep in touch with our adopting families is through our Alumni Program.  Several people help with this function since a growing number of birds now fall under the protective umbrella of Phoenix Landing.  In fact, we could use some additional help.  If you are interested, please email us at phoenixlanding@earthlink.net.

I’d like to give a special thanks to our extraordinary adoption coordinators (Debbie Russell, MD; Jenny Drummey, VA; Sarah Ptomey, WV; Kevin Blaylock, TN/VA; and Nina Roshon, NC).  No matter how many birds they are trying to place, how many need yet another new home,  how many challenging people they encounter – they always keep the welfare and future of the birds first and foremost. They are motivated and rewarded by all the good matches they make, parrot-by-parrot.  I hope you will join me in giving them a special cheer of gratitude.   Someday your parrot may need them too!

Pilots N Paws Goes to the Birds

QUORK’S GREAT ADVENTURE, by Megan Burnham-Gerow, Phoenix Landing Transport Coordinator
In June, I was asked to take on the daunting job of Transport Coordinator, which I gladly did. Since I also work with Carolina’s border collie rescue, I thought I might try to tap into some of the dog transport network. What’s the worst they could do? Point, laugh and say no?

So I fired off an email to Debi Boies, the founder and director of Pilots N Paws (pilotsnpaws.org), a volunteer group made up of private and commercial pilots and animal rescue groups. All the pilots give their time, their planes and fuel to help get animals that need rides from fosters to their loving, new homes, or from shelters to foster homes. Debi was delighted that I asked, and gave me her blessing to post for a flight and see what happens.

With that in mind I posted a request for help with moving Quork, a scarlet macaw, from the Fayetteville, NC area to Asheville, NC. Since I thought most pilots would be a little concerned about how big he might be, I scoured the net to find a picture of a scarlet with a person. I also considered that seeing a picture would attract more attention, and it did! Within an hour, Jon, a pilot out of Greensboro, NC replied, offering to fly west with our beautiful macaw. He had flown dogs and cats, but wanted to take Quork since it would be such an adventure. Not only was Jon excited, but his family wanted to go as well! They loved the idea that they could spend the flight entertaining him.
Quork by plane2
After some initial setbacks and scrambling, we got all the details worked out. His foster family brought Quork to Nina, our Wilmington, NC coordinator, who would see that he got to Jon at the airport for his flight west. Poor Nina and Quork had quite the adventure just getting to the airport, but I’ll let her tell you about that next.
Quork by plane
Susan Steenstra was gracious enough to offer to meet Quork at the Asheville airport, and even brought Ms. Molly, her adopted blue and gold macaw as Quork’s welcoming committee. From what she told me, Molly was a huge hit all by herself, and when Quork arrived they wowed the crowd. Imagine walking into a waiting area to see 2 stunning macaws! Cameras clicked and flashes flashed, all centered on the birds!
Molly welcomes Quork to Asheville
This is the message I later received from Jon: “Quork was wonderful….not a peep out of him. He just sat there and looked out the window. I think he really enjoyed the flight, to be honest. I don’t know macaws, but that’s what it seemed like. He was a hit in the FBO (Family Boarding Office) at AVL (Asheville Regional Airport). Lots of people there and also young kids. People were taking pictures right and left….nice to see such an animal/bird make an impression. Sorry the flight was so long, ATC (Atlanta Tower Control) was vectoring us all over the place and when we got to AVL area, we were number “5” for landing….place was packed and weather was coming in. Thanks again for letting us help. This was a really unique trip.” It’s my fondest wish that all who met Quork will be inspired to consider adding a member of Phoenix Landing’s family to theirs.

Quork’s Excellent Adventure, Wilmington, NC to Jacksonville, NC, by Nina Roshon, Wilmington, NC Phoenix Landing Coordinator
Well, as Megan stated, there was an “incident” on the way to the airport that morning…

I was concerned about driving on Highway 17 due to fires and some heavy smoke; however, all reports for the last 48 hours said the smoke in that area had dissipated. And, since my alternate route was a lot longer drive time, I elected to take 17.

As soon as I got past Surf City the smoke became at first dense and then extremely severe. I had the windows open as I think birds enjoy the breeze on their feathers, but I quickly closed everything up and turned on the A/C. However, I could still smell smoke coming into the truck. And I remember one news report stating that if one can smell smoke then one is inhaling it as well.  I also remember reading one expert’s comments that almost no other kind of smoke is as hazardous as forest fire smoke; something to do with the size/number of particulate matter in it. The smoke was so dense that one could not have breathed outside the vehicle without a respirator. Something like out of Dante’s Inferno!

I was too far along on my drive to turn around and go back to Wilmington. I called my friend Wade in Jacksonville and he reported very little smoke there. So I knew I just had to get through maybe 15 miles or so and be in the clear. I told Wade, “let me get off the phone and do the only thing I can at this point which is to drive like a bat out of hell to get through this toxic smoke” – so I did! (actually, probably going 70-75 mph on a 55 mph 4 lane highway; almost no traffic on it at this time of day on a Sunday. I had a very strong suspicion that I would get stopped on this highly traveled road but felt I had no other option and that I would deal with that scenario when and if it happened.

Well, sure enough, after about 10 miles, I saw flashing lights and a State Trooper right behind me. I jumped out of the truck (which I knew would totally concern the officer) but I knew there was NO WAY I was going to open a window with Quork in the truck. As feared, he reached for his gun, and yelled at me to get back in the vehicle. I told him “NO, I am not, as I cannot open a window – this is a matter of life and death.” He then said that it was for my own safety so a passing car wouldn’t hit me. So I said, “I will just walk over on the other side of the truck.” He calmed down when he saw that I had no weapon (and obviously no where to hide one) and I explained that I had a bird in the car, that I knew I was speeding and I was sorry but that I had no other option due to the dense and toxic smoke; I explained where I was heading. He asked to see the bird (I guess he was thinking chicken or parakeet) and he totally flipped out when he saw Quork.  “I have always wanted to get a bird like that; is he available for adoption?”  I  told him “Yes”, here is a card,  quickly told him about the Phoenix Landing adoption program, and how to apply online as an adoption candidate. He said to continue on my trip but not to drive as fast.  So I got back in the truck and after a few miles the smoke cleared by 90%. At the airport the smoke was worse again – but not anything like what we had driven through.

When Quork arrived at The Landing in Asheville, our adoption center, he was offered a drenching shower to wash away any smoke residue. He enjoyed it immensely!
Quork shower
Many thanks to pilot Jon, Megan, Nina and Susan for such a successful flight for the spectacularly beautiful Quork. Quork was adopted in 2004, and he is now looking for his next new family! For more information about our adoption program, go to phoenixlanding.org/adoption.

In July, Pilots N Paws pilot Mary Beth Wicker kindly transported Maria the Senegal from Roanoke, VA to Onslow County, NC to reunite with her former foster, Wendy Autry.
Maria by air
It was a happy reunion after another successful flight. We are most grateful to the caring pilots, Jon and Mary Beth, who gave their time and resources to help Phoenix Landing parrots. For more about Maria’s flight, go to: http://pilotsnpaws.org/2011/07/maria-the-senegal-parrot/