Photo Right: A Scarlet Macaw  in beautiful feather condition.

Above: Captivity takes it's toll. These two old, wild caught, Scarlet's were retired, and donated to the Cockatoo Rescue and Sanctuary, from different breeding facilities. They both have a unique, feather shredding habit. After years of producing babies for the pet trade, it is unlikely that their feather shredding habit, will improve. They fell in love at first sight. The Macaw colony, is our only colony where pairs have formed. All of the Cockatoo species live together platonically.

Not all Special Needs Birds come from breeding facilities. The pet community contributes to the problem too. The following is a classic example of how some owners get bored with, what they consider, common species or loose interest in a plucked bird that is no longer "pretty" and "trade up" for a more unusual species that, they perceive as a "show piece" or status symbol.

*Right Above: This sweet, plucked Goffin was owned by a well known bird enthusiast who resides in Washington State. She lost interest in him.  Andy was soon replaced by a, "less common", Red Vented Cockatoo. Tragically, the Red Vented and Rosebreasted, "trade ups" she acquired, were then killed in a house fire.

Unaware that her previous flock was sitting in a Sanctuary, the bird community rallied together and raised funds to replace the Red Vented and Rose-breasted Cockatoo's.

Text Box: The Cockatoo Rescue and Sanctuary

Special Needs Birds

Some of our Special Needs Birds have obvious physical trauma. Others look normal but, have scarred souls. Regardless, not all resident birds can be treated the same. We are always looking for creative ways to improve their quality of life. Whether it is modifying their surroundings or customizing their diet the needs are ever changing. One of the most important jobs, at the Cockatoo Rescue and Sanctuary is, to spend time observing bird behaviors, and look for solutions.

Most people have not been exposed to these types of traumas, illness' or birth defects in birds. At first glance, you may think these birds should be euthanized. Each case is unique. Some birds become depressed, lethargic, and lose the will to live. But, some birds show a zest for life that is undeniable. A twinkle in their eye, a spring in their step, a passion for life that you cannot ignore, despite their limitations.

Birds that are hatched with physical limitations, have no idea that they are different. They think, that they are normal. Why should we tell them otherwise?

Above: This is Twister. He was born with a neck deformity, caused from a Calcium Deficiency. If treated early, this could have been, partially corrected. The parents were prolific breeders with high egg production and their inadequate diet, caused a calcium deficiency in the hen, who passed it on to Twister.

The Breeder, now retired, donated Twister, to The Cockatoo Rescue and Sanctuary. Twister bends his head into a normal position, to eat and drink. Then, it pops back to the upside down position, with his forehead resting on his chest.

Above: This is, an Illiger's Mini Macaw, born without eyes. He  came to us as a baby, from a breeding facility. He loves to hang upside down, from the top of his boing toy. He has no idea he's blind.  And, we are  not going to tell him!

A fully feathered Goffin

Above: What makes a Cockatoo pluck or mutilate? It is not always a health problem, improper care or lack of attention. The fact is, there are many pampered birds, who's owners did everything right and still their bird begins picking it's feathers. We still have no idea, if there is a health or genetic link, an allergy link, missing nutrient, atmospheric link, personality quirk or an unperceivable stress. It does not make them less lovable or, deserving. Did you know, there are still, many varieties of unnamed fruit, on the remote islands, of the South Pacific which the  Cockatoo's originate? How do we really know, if we are providing them with all of the micro nutrients that they need?  Whatever the cause, feather problems are common and should not be the reason for relinquishing a bird.

If you have one of these birds, and you have experimented with all of the recommended solutions, and you are at your wits end. We have one more thing for you to try:..try NOT to take it personal. Maybe your bird is a nudist at heart! If they are singing, dancing and full of spirit, they are happy.  What if you put it, in human perspective? Would you give away a child that had a skin condition, for his own good? In hopes it will improve, with a different environment?  No, of course not! That would be ridicules!!  You would, narrow down the possible causes, experiment, and if nothing live with it! And, while your living with it, keep trying different things, you keep an eye and ear open, in case a solution is discovered in the future. 

Solutions are found by experimenting. Who knows, you may,  experiment and, stumble on the cure / solution for all of us.

The Sunroom Solution: Our Sanctuary feather pickers and handicapped birds enjoy the outdoors, just as much as, the feathered residents. But, their outdoor opportunities are seasonally limited. When the donation funds become available, we plan to construct a Special Needs Sunroom Habitat. Where they can comfortably, enjoy basking in the sunshine, year round.

Above and Top of Page: Her injury is shocking but, despite her injuries, she has a perky personality and an enthusiasm for life. This female was attacked by her mate, in a breeding facility. Unfortunately the growth plate is damaged and her beak will not re-grow. We have two birds with this type of injury. The other bird, is a Moluccan wild caught male. Both birds have learned how to manipulate their food and have adapted quite well. They have learned how to crack open peanut shells! The lower mandible must be allowed to overgrow, to compensate for the injury. We did not attempt to fit them with a prosthetic device because, these birds have adapted naturally.

Prosthetic beaks are still a temporary solution and need frequent replacements, which is stressful to wild caught birds. Until we see improvements in beak prosthetics, we consider them to be cosmetic rather then functional.

Above:  Alex, is a wild caught, retired breeder male. At first glance he appears normal, but his lower mandible has been cut vertically, all the way down through the growth plate. This technique called beak splitting, is still done by

 breeding facilities in an attempt to prevent mate killing. If the male, attempts an attack, he will not be able to bite with enough pressure to due much damage. It looks painful.

Alex's beak needs frequent trimming, something that is very stressful for wild caught birds. We didn't provide you with a close up of Alex because, we didn't want to stress him for a photo.