Exotic birds require special care.
Last week I visited Trudy Tappan at the Baiata Bird Sanctuary at NatureScapes. The sanctuary was created after founder and owner Marylou Baiata passed away in 2014. I was lucky enough to cross paths with Marylou many times over the years and our talks would inevitably turn to the birds and Teddy, her Moluccan cockatoo.
I found Teddy in the gazebo with the rest of the birds, atop a play stand, with a noticeable amount of his plumage missing.
Feather plucking is something every bird owner knows must be addressed quickly, as it can easily become habitual. There are several reasons birds pull their feathers, from poor diet and insufficient light, to stress. In Teddy's case, it's stress.
“He started plucking himself on the one year anniversary of Marylou's death,” Tappan said.
Teddy, and all of the birds, have very healthy diets of fresh vegetables, fruits and pellets, and they are in the company of other birds. Tappan has implemented ways to deter the feather plucking, making sure Teddy has an assortment of toys to chew on, including a bright blue feather. There are no macaws at the sanctuary but this was definitely a macaw feather.
“I brought a feather from my macaw,” Tappan said. “I want him to chew on that feather instead of his own.”
Teddy also has a new friend, Apollo, also a Moluccan cockatoo, who sits on a stand opposite Teddy. The two squawk and talk back and forth, and bop up and down if music is played. Having a new friend is definitely good for Teddy.
Not all of his friends are birds. Judy and Steve Finger, who have African grey parrots at home, are part of a team of volunteers at the sanctuary.
“There was an ad in the Palm Coast Observer that brought us to the sanctuary at NatureScapes,” Judy said. “We were looking for a place to volunteer our time and this was perfect.”
The Fingers and Tappan are at the sanctuary every day, sometimes twice a day, cleaning, feeding and making sure the birds are okay. At night all of the birds are moved inside a building customized for them with extra insulation, ventilation and protection from predators.
“This is like my church on Sunday, my sanctuary,” Tappan said. “We have a number of excellent volunteers.”
The Baiata Bird Sanctuary is a registered 501c3 and welcomes donations. Information about the organization and the birds is available on their website palmcoastbirds.org.