Kevin Blaylock, One Of A Kind

Kevin was supremely devoted to his family – his wife Kami and their children Chandler and Maddi. I remember when they joined us for a parrot care class back in July 2006, soon after they acquired their first bird, a macaw. We were so impressed with their dedication to learning right from the start, especially because the whole family was involved. For Kevin, family was everything.

DSC_0187 copyOver the years, as Kevin became more involved with Phoenix Landing, we felt like his lucky adopted family. We went on ecotour vacations together, many of which he had adeptly organized. Beginning in 2010, we spent several weekends a year teaching intense training “Step-Up” workshops. Kevin never missed one of these workshops, because he so enjoyed the time with new students and old friends.

Kevin helped us with countless projects – especially at The Landing, our only facility. StepUpKevinWhen in doubt, we would say “let’s ask Kevin” because he usually had a new and insightful idea. As a highly successful businessman, Kevin joined the Board of Directors as our Treasurer and he knew how to steer the organization solidly into the future. Lastly, Kevin took stunning photographs of amazing wild and captive parrots, something that gave him great joy and satisfaction. His love for birds just radiates through these photos.

 

Kevin’s dedication to helping parrots was monumental. Avid learners become good teachers, and Kevin was one of our best, with a special interest in behavior. He also put his positive reinforcement training skills to work in every aspect of his life, always seeing the good in everyone.

 

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Kevin’s family lost him way too soon, he was a young 44 years old. His Phoenix Landing family lost one of its brightest young stars. There are no words to convey the void Kevin leaves behind – one of goodwill, smiles and genuine affection for all those he befriended. I hope you are able to fly in your new life, Kevin, because we know how much you deserve the joy that would bring you! ~ Love always, Ann

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Friends of Wendy Huntbatch Remember Her Life’s Work

Parrots lost one of their staunchest advocates this week, Wendy Huntbatch, founder of the World Parrot Refuge in Canada. She was relentless in her determination to make a difference; and for hundreds of parrots she has been their provider, ally, joy and savior.

Wendy 2008

Emphatic & passionate!

Back in the late 90’s, when I was initially inspired to create an organization for parrots, Wendy was the first to respond to my inquiries and offer to help. She was always positive, encouraging and compassionate. She gave much of her time to me freely, sharing her thoughts and all the lessons she had learned. While we ultimately opted to set up an adoption program for parrots instead of creating a sanctuary, she continued to offer ideas, advice and solid moral support up through her final days.

In 2002, Wendy joined the Phoenix Landing Board of Directors, and we could always count on her for a lively discussion. Did we agree on everything? Of course not, we are all individuals with our own experiences and ideas. Did she do what she thought was best for parrots? Without a doubt, each and every single time!

Wendy Stewart Ann 2010

Wendy Huntbatch, Stewart Metz and Ann Brooks at the World Parrot Refuge, 2010

Wendy introduced me to some of the most devoted, articulate and solicitous people in the world of parrots, such as Dr. Stewart Metz and Rosemary Low.  I am so grateful to her for including me in her parrot welfare network, making it possible for us to actually move forward in our own work.  I owe her a deep debt of gratitude for her generosity of spirit.

Most importantly, Wendy was a fierce and loyal friend, and I can only hope she knew I felt the same for her. Her absence already feels unbearable – but her spirit, her dedication and her unwavering passion will burn in my heart and work with parrots each and every day.
Ann Brooks, Phoenix Landing



Wendy Huntbatch was a pioneer, starting parrot rescue (1993) before most of us knew there were parrots who needed rescuing. Each one of her parrots was loved as if they were children in her homeWendy in her shop2.png

I was immensely proud to be invited to be a guest speaker (along with Rosemary Low) to the opening of the new facility — I must say that she employed many excellent features such as flight between whole trees, enrichment, even the ability for some parrots to walk through a hole and go outside for a (safe) short walk -and the birds looked great.

Oh, the look on Wendy’s face when she showed off her birds to visitors! Few knew that Wendy suffered from TWO terrible, debilitating illnesses but she never let them stop her crusade to help needy parrots–yes, she was a Crusader and a Lovely Lady at the same time. Will we miss her — YES, very much.  Will the parrots miss her — more than they can ever know.
Stewart Metz, M.D.
Founder and Associate Director, Indonesian Parrot Project
www.indonesian-parrot-project.org



I first met Wendy in 1997. In 2000, on a trip to Costa Rica with her and her husband Horst, I got to know her well and to understand her drive and passion for parrots. I visited her in Canada on three occasions, each time being amazed at her parrot rescue initiatives. Wendy died on February 3 after a long battle against cancer and a debilitating lung disease.

Rosemary Low at WPR 2010

Rosemary Low at WPR in 2010

She was the most remarkable person, totally dedicated to parrots. She lived to give a good life to as many as possible after they had been abandoned by their owners. To see her working with these birds, in the huge aviaries Horst had built for them, was an inspiration. Her strength and bravery during the past five years while tolerating very serious illnesses and treatments were heroic. Her fund-raising efforts to keep the sanctuary running were extraordinary.

Everyone who knew Wendy admired her untiring dedication, her patience and compassion, especially with the special needs birds, and her determination, often in the face of great difficulties. The parrot world has lost a unique and irreplaceable lady. If you want to help to ensure that her work continues, please donate to the sanctuary via the website: www.worldparrotrefuge.org
Rosemary Low
Curator, Author and Lifelong Devoted Parrot Lover

A Dwindling Kingdom: Presley, the Last Male Spix’s Macaw in Brazil, Dies

The parrot community has been saddened to learn of the death at the age of 38 of one of the world’s most well–known birds, Presley, one of the few remaining Spix’s macaws. On recent trips to Brazil sponsored by Phoenix Landing, members of the tour group were fortunate enough to spend some time with him. His story was the inspiration for the recent movie Rio. In person, Presley was a lot less animated, a mellow old fellow, and the oldest recorded individual of the species. He spent his final years at the Lymington Foundation, in the Atlantic forest about 45 miles from Sao Paulo, under the care of Bill and Linda Wittkoff.

PresleybyFrankRutowski(Photo by Frank Rutowski, D.V.M.)

Presley was one of 78 individuals (as of 2011) of this rare species, and the future does not look good for them.  Of the captive population, many of the birds are old, their genetic pool is limited, and their health has been compromised from being smuggled from the wild. The population is also geographically isolated from each other, kept in private collections and zoos around the world. The challenges of maintaining the Spix’s macaw population are perhaps overwhelming, which made spending time in this bird’s gentle presence a true honor.  It also proved a bittersweet lesson: humans are responsible for the decline of this and many species, and our last-minute efforts to save them may not be enough. We should support the organizations that are on the forefront of conservation efforts, and educate people about the loss of fantastic creatures like the Spix’s before it’s too late.

Presley by Mary
(Photo by Mary Ault)

Presley was comfortable in the presence of strangers, the result of many years spent as a pet in the United States. He was brought to Lymington in 2007, but breeding attempts with him were not successful. This fragile creature, from a species that is no longer found in the wild, lived out his remaining days in comfort, in an aviary in the sunshine. His cage mate of many years, a golden conure, died in 2013. A Vinaceous Amazon was his companion during his final months.

Presley by Kevin
(Photo by Kevin Blaylock)

Sadly, Presley spent much of his life as many birds in captivity do, looking out from behind the bars of a cage because the world they belong in is no longer safe for them. They are refugees from their homelands. I hope Presley has somehow returned to freedom, the freedom that all parrots deserve.

Phoenix Landing sponsors conservation efforts every year, and the Lymington Foundation was the recipient of our 2013 grant of $2,000, based on the great work the Wittkoffs are doing with other endangered parrot species, such as the golden conures, the Lears macaw, and the Vinaceous Amazon.

How a Parrot Garden Grows

Spring is here, and the garden is growing! Thanks to a very special donor, Richard Rossi, The Landing has new greenhouse. We will be growing a wide variety of veggies over the next few months. As each comes into harvest, we’ll chop and freeze it for our future batches of mash. Not only does this save us with our fresh food expenses, but the birds that pass through The Landing adoption center will have a great boost in the freshest of nutrition. We’ll post updated photos throughout the year to show how the garden grows and how it brings joy and great value to the adoptable parrots of Phoenix Landing!!

Greenhouse March 2012

We just had the first major harvest of several varieties of kale, chard and spinach. We chopped them into small pieces and put in the freezer for future use. Greens are one of the best sources of calcium and vitamin A – two essential nutritional needs of our parrots. We are already longing for an industrial food processor, because we are looking forward to an amazing harvest of fruits and veggies this year.

CIMG1745

Thanks to Penny Coghe and Kathy Kocsan, we now have an orchard as well! It includes pear, peach, and apple trees, as well several blueberry bushes. Laura Ford topped it off with some gooseberry bushes for fruit and some butterfly bushes for extra parrot fun and foraging.

Stay tuned to learn more about the gardeners that made this wonderful resource possible!

A Sense of Adventure? Or am I Just ‘Out There?’

Guest Post by Patricia Sund

Well, I’m not sure. What I am sure of is my commitment to the field of birds. I have a soft place in my heart for parrot rescues in general, but Phoenix Landing has always been by far, my favorite. I met Ann Brooks, in 2005 at the NEI Advanced Parrot Training program in Lake Whales, Florida We sat in the third to the last row on the right-hand side in the tent that served as a classroom.

I was in awe of Ann and all of these people in the class that had already established rescues, or they had their own bird related businesses. I had one bird, my African Grey, Parker and I wanted to learn to train him properly. That was my only reason for attending.

I had no idea that years later, I’d be writing about this business of birds: running around the country to experience life as a Zoo Keeper, a staff member at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, or simply reporting the goings-on at the Houston Parrot Festival.

I began my own blog (http://parrotnation.com/) and it has been happily chugging along for almost three years. The blog has caught on and a post I did about Phoenix Landing a while back still gets hits.

At the end of November, I received an email from Quark Expeditions about a blogging contest. The contest, Called “Blog Your Way to the North Pole” is a writing contest. The winner of the Contest is awarded a trip for two to the North Pole through Helsinki, Finland to Murmansk, Russia, and then on to board a nuclear-powered ice breaker expedition vessel to the North Pole which will take between four and eight days. So I entered the contest with the idea that if my entry won, it could raise awareness of Parrot rescues and nonprofit aviculture related foundations.

This trip is rough, long and cold. I live in Florida, so this will be an uncomfortable trip for me. It would not be a glamorous journey. It crosses 8 time zones so I am sure the jet lag would be brutal. It could possibly involve getting seasick. It’s on a nuclear powered vessel and I could come back glowing for all I know. I’ll have to take time off from work, get a Russian Visa, and the packing is probably going to be very complicated. But this doesn’t matter to me because I’d be doing it for something much bigger than me. It’s not about me, it’s about the birds, and as far as I know, I am the only entrant that has a shot who has an interest in birds.

To win, you have to get people to vote for you. A lot of people. If you get enough votes to be in the top five, a committee, including the president of Quark Expeditions and a professional travel blogger will judge the top five and the entry considered the best wins the trip.

There is only one vote per person. You can’t vote every day like you can with other contests. So, in order to win, I must get enough people give me their one vote.

So I am asking for your vote. I am asking that not only you vote, but that you ask your family, friends and anyone you know with an email address to vote for my entry.

How could this possibly help birds? It can and I think it will. Along with the publicity of the contest, the person going to the Pole on the trip has to write about it as they travel. Obviously, my personality, my interests and my passions would be coming out in the pieces as I write. The fact that I am a writer in the field of birds will obviously come up. Traffic to my blog would increase and I have so many links to wonderful websites that benefit birds including Phoenix Landing. I’m hoping this will enlighten other people about some of the foundations and non-profits that I love and respect.

If my entry wins, I want to make a feather scarf and wear it to the pole, return with it and auction it off, all proceeds going to Phoenix Landing. I have other ideas that could benefit Phoenix Landing, as well as the Alex Foundation and other bird related non-profits. But I have to win first. Here is the link to the Quark Expeditions Blogging contest:

http://www.blogyourwaytothenorthpole.com/entries/94

The current title of my entry is “Santa’s Sleigh Needs a Flight Attendant.”

It only takes about a minute to vote.

I thank you so much for helping someone who loves birds go to the North Pole and I thank you for your vote.

With Respect,
Patricia Sund