Wednesday, January 26, 2011


~Written by Dawn, Dawn's Custom Designs~

Each of my parrots have a special and unique story. Some are sad, difficult stories, but all have a very happy ending. Here is one that was a roller-coaster of emotions.

I had been involved with rescuing and rehoming birds through the years. It was a very gratifying experience to see a bird that had come from a bad situation, that had lost it’s excitement to be alive or had health issues, become a happy, well adjusted bird that flourished more and more with each day.

The hard part was finding a new home for these birds and ensuring their well being. After all, I had put all of this time, money and most of all “myself” into helping them become happy, healthy and loved. I found out quickly that there were a lot of dishonest people who did not have the best interest of the bird as their priority. A lot of people saw this opportunity either as a way to make money (a.k.a “flipping”) or were just adding the bird to their already immense collection of birds. For me, I needed to find a home that would first and foremost love this creature and continue to give it the healthy environment that I had provided thus far.

For all of them, excellent homes were found but it took a lot of learning(the hard way!) and waiting for the right person to come along. One of the most gratifying rehomes I did was a male Eclectus named Kiwi.

He had been living with a woman in another state and she had somehow tracked me down as a fellow Ekkie owner as she was looking for advice on how she could help him stop plucking his feathers. At first I felt very happy that an owner was looking to help their bird and was not just giving up on him when he started having problems or wasn’t looking as “pretty” as when she first got him.

This correspondence quickly turned into her wanting me to take her bird and fix the problem. She just didn’t want to be bothered anymore. Of course when this happened, it was a huge red flag for me. She kept sending me emails and leaving me messages about wanting me to take him. So I began asking more questions as to his condition and environment. Through our conversations I learned that she had kept him in her garage with no windows since she had gotten him. I also learned that she was feeding him an all seed diet. It seemed that this situation had just gotten even worse when her messages became desperate. She wanted desperately to ship him off to me. I began looking for potential homes for this poor guy. I didn’t know his personality or how bad he really was. I asked her to please wait until the weather became warmer and he could be shipped safely. She agreed.

As soon as the weather got warm she was sending me messages incessantly. Again, she sounded desperate to “get rid of him." I asked for a bit more time as I hadn’t secured a potential home for him. She sent me a disturbing email the very next day which read: “I am tired of watching him pull his feathers. I am going to get in contact with my vet to see if he will euthanize him."

My heart sank and I knew I had to move quickly as this woman was not stable. I immediately got on the phone to call her. My voice was shaky and I was in tears. I pulled myself together and focused my efforts on getting in contact with her and getting him here quickly. Finally after hours and many calls to the local police dept., animal welfare and any people from TEC who lived close by, she finally called me back.

She agreed to ship him, rather than do anything drastic. I was relieved, but still needed to get him in my hands before I knew he was ok. I set everything up for two days later. That was the first available flight. I was anxious to get him here but also very nervous about what his condition was going to be.

He finally arrived. Cold, scared and very thin. Not to mention very badly plucked. The first thing I did was get him to my vet. Surprisingly everything was fine except that he was very underweight.

He was very scared to be in such an “open” environment as mine, with so much stimulation. He spent the first several hours just screaming incessantly. I knew it was going to be a long road to recovery as well as a huge challenge to find him the perfect home.

I spent the next weeks/months getting him healthy physically and emotionally. Over time he gained weight, learning to eat “real”, healthy foods. His eyes became brighter, his coat became shinier and he was even starting to grow some feathers back! There was a lot of follicle damage so he would never be fully feathered again, but that did not matter to me. What mattered is that he was happy, healthy and loved unconditionally. Finding a new owner to meet that criteria was going to be a challenge.

I had been searching for a potential new home for him but really never found the right fit. Some wanted me to ship him and others just didn’t answer my list of questions to my satisfaction. I would not ship him and I would not settle for any less of a home than what he deserved. He had been through enough.

Finally I got the email I had been praying for. A woman who had dealt with traumatic loss when her beloved Eclectus passed, just a year prior. She felt she was ready to open her heart and home to another Eclectus and wanted to know more about Kiwi. We spoke and I had a gut feeling that she would be his forever home. I felt an immediate connection with her and was excited about the possibility of her being “the one” for Kiwi.

She met Kiwi and there seemed to be a spark between them. I knew as soon as I saw the two of them interact that it was right. I then visited her home and my gut feeling was confirmed when I saw the amazing environment that she provided for her birds. Clean, healthy and full of light and love. Her husband also shared her love for the birds which was wonderful. Kiwi had finally found his forever home!!

I feel like she was his angel but also that he was an angel sent to her. I could not have been happier in being a part of this miracle, which is what it had felt like. It truly seemed that they had been destined for one another.

Kiwi continues to thrive and has a personality that just makes you smile from ear to ear. I now have the privilege of being a friend to his owner as well as caring for him whenever she needs me to. It could not have worked out better for everyone!

Kiwi when he first arrived in April 2008.
Only 7 months later, in October 2008.
Kiwi's wing feathers are almost fully grown in!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Kito the African Grey

~Written by Dawn from Dawn's Custom Designs~

This is the story of my bird, Kito. He is a very special bird, not just because he's cute, quirky, handsome or talks well. He is so special to me because he had the will to survive and gives me more unconditional love than he or anyone will ever know.

Kito came to me in a very unplanned, sudden circumstance. He was the "product" of a greedy, uncaring breeder who was in it for one reason and one reason only. Money. When Kito was born, he was born with a severe spinal deformity. It was not known to what extent his disability would affect his quality of life but that was not even the issue for the breeder. The question for her was, "can I sell this bird"?? After a few weeks of Kito not eating well and thriving, she brought him to her avian vet and he determined the severity of the deformity and the inability for Kito to even eat without support or help. He needed to be fed with a tiny dropper because he was so weak he couldn’t hold his head up enough and there was a huge risk of him aspirating and choking. His curvature was so severe that it was affecting his digestion and breathing and we learned later that there was also nerve damage. When the breeder was told of his severe condition she told the vet she had too many baby birds to feed and care for and could not afford medical bills nor had the time to care for a "special needs" bird and that he should just euthanize him. She signed a form relinquishing him to the vet and over the next several hours, emails and phone calls began to circulate. I was contacted by someone who had gotten word of this poor bird and within the next hour I was in contact with the point person.

I was on the road several hours later, in my car for 8 hours, on my way to Iowa to pick up this poor, sick, weak little bird who needed a whole lot of care and love and had a long road to recovery. I had no idea how my life would change. When I got there, he had been receiving sub-Q fluids and was being tube fed. He had some strength but was still extremely weak. I brought him to my vet the next morning and ran every test possible. Everything was out of wack. He had fungal & bacterial infections, was still dehydrated and severely underweight. He was only a few weeks old at this point. With medication, around the clock feedings and lots of care and constant attention, Kito began to thrive and bounce back more than we could have hoped for. Where we once thought there was no hope for this poor, weak bird to survive, and someone had wanted to just toss him aside because he was “broken”, we now saw a beautiful, bright eyed bird coming to life and showing us the fight he had in him. No handicap was going to stop him. No deformity was going to deter him from surviving. No selfish, money hungry person was going to get in between his true fate in life. He was destined to be a happy, healthy bird that would give a family more love, laughs and unconditional love they could ever imagine.

In summary, he had a severe spinal deformity, a curvature of the top portion of his cervical spine. We were told he would never fly and would have trouble perching, and would need special exercise and perches for balance. We were told he would need a special diet and extra calcium & vitamins. We were told he might need to be on pain medication the rest of his life and may have tremors due to nerve damage. Several years after we brought him home, by some miracle, he decided he would prove everyone wrong and took flight. It was the first and last time he would ever fly but every bird should be allowed to fly free at least once! I cried like a baby as if one of my children had just taken their first steps.

Kito takes no special medication, vitamins or supplements. He doesn't need a special diet or special perches, gets daily exercise and is perfectly feathered and healthy. He is one of the 5 feathered loves that I feel so very blessed to share my life with...but he is my very special boy that was appropriately named Kito, which means "precious" in Swahili and it suits him perfectly.

Thanks for allowing me to share my story about my precious boy.

Kito as a baby in October 2006 and now in August 2010