Ann Brooks, president and founder of Phoenix Landing, was no stranger to planning and research when she got her first parrot, a beautiful green-winged macaw she named Phoenix. After all, she established the first federal office of Special Events and worked on many olympics, mostly for security, including being the lead planner for the law enforcement community in 2002.
“I did not realize that he should live longer than me,?she said. “I did a terrible job of research and planning, in spite of my professional skills in this area! So I was inspired to form a sustainable organization to protect Phoenix and many other parrots, and to encourage education, education, education.?lt;/span>
Phoenix, now 20 years old, is the namesake of Phoenix Landing. Assuming good health, good care, and good genetics, Phoenix will hopefully live 50-plus years. Since few people can take care of animal that long, Phoenix will likely need a new “landing” someday.
Thus began Phoenix Landing. The Landing in the Asheville area, their only facility, opened in 2010, but they were active in the Washington, DC area starting late 2002.
Smokie, a 24-year-old Congo African grey, is the 2,500th bird to enter the Phoenix Landing adoption program! Like so many parrots, he outlived his primary person.
The Phoenix Landing Foundation is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization dedicated to the welfare of parrots through its adoption and education programs. It serves Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and Washington DC. They are glad to work with people in the surrounding states or any part of the country as long as they join a core class that coincides with adoption and assist with transportation.
“When we bring home our birds, most of us come to realize how remarkable and special they are,?Brooks said. “We often don? realize how long they will (should!) live, what they need, how misplaced in captivity they often are, or how likely it is that we can? care for them ?orever??
Phoenix is emblematic of the 2,500 birds that have now entered the Phoenix Landing adoption program. Once the birds enter Phoenix Landing, the volunteers make sure they always have a succession of good homes. Adoption contracts stipulate that the bird is returned to Phoenix Landing should a new place be needed, and this does happen. It? not because the home was bad or the parrot was a problem ?it? just a fact that taking care of an animal for many years is not always possible or easy. Phoenix Landing also ask adopters to keep in touch and to continue learning. Volunteers try to check on the adopted birds, called the “alumni,?as often as possible.
Phoenix Landing offers numerous classes and outreach events.
The most important thing Phoenix Landing does to help parrots thrive in homes is to educate people about how to give parrots the best possible quality of life. Phoenix Landing offers numerous classes and outreach events, a bi-annual national conference, monthly newsletters and information distributed through the 50-plus veterinarians they work with on a regular basis.
Phoenix Landing is also changing the language about parrots and the positive aspects of adoption, since almost every bird needs a succession of good homes. While people aspire to be that “forever home?it rarely happens. Birds live a long time if cared for properly, and they are expensive, time consuming, and unique. People? lives can change quickly due to health, finances, interests, jobs, children and time. Fortunately, nature built birds to be very resilient and adaptable. Therefore, Phoenix Landing prefers not to use the word “rescue?and prefers the term “rehome?or “adoption.?
“There is no reason a bird should be labeled with a negatively charged term like ?escue?just because a new home is needed,?Brooks said. “We want adoption to be considered a positive way to acquire a bird.?lt;/span>
Phoenix Landing sponsors an ecotourism trip every year, and part of the payment from the travelers of each trip goes towards conservation and research for parrots in the wild. The trips to date have included the countries of Peru and Brazil, and they are aspiring to organize trips to other places as well, such as Bolivia. “We?e very grateful to Dr. Donald Brightsmith [of Schubot Exotic Bird Health Center at Texas A&M University and head of the Tambopata Macaw Project] for introducing us to the scientists and researchers in each country, allowing us to offer ecotourism trips that focus on the ongoing serious conservation and research efforts. Our next trip is planned for September 2015 to Brazil, and is currently full. Stay tuned for next year? adventure!?Brooks said.
The most important thing we can do for the birds in our home is learn to take care of them in the best possible way. Therefore, continuing to learn, be curious, evolve in our thinking, and make changes to our parrot care is essential. Phoenix Landing sponsors almost 100 education and outreach events every year in order to inspire and encourage people to add new value to their parrots?lives. Most people appreciate the value of continued learning once they attend our events. Parrot care techniques are constantly improving, and Phoenix Landing hopes as many people as possible will be interested in this information. The classes are open to everyone, any time. (Author? note: I?e attended one of their Wellness Retreats and it was extraordinary!)
Phoenix Landing believes it may not be possible for a bird to have a forever home, due to circumstances outside the parrot owner’s control. However, once a bird enters Phoenix Landing, the volunteers make sure he or she always have a succession of good homes.
Phoenix Landing hosts a national Wellness Retreat every two years at the University of North Carolina-Asheville. The next one will be held in April 30 through May 1, 2016. The theme will be the “The Nature of Parrots.?Guest speakers will include the usual array of extraordinary veterinarians, in addition to a guest from Brazil, EB Cravens, and several others. Registration for the 2016 retreat will begin this fall.
In addition to a Facebook page, Phoenix Landing produces a monthly newsletter.
Phoenix Landing has a membership program, which is based on different levels (parakeet to macaws). This program helps to sustain their adoption and education expenses. Some of the levels include shopping discounts from their store, a very important source of revenue for sustaining the adoption and education programs.
This year, Phoenix Landing will be initiating a capital campaign for a much larger adoption and education center at The Landing in North Carolina. There will be a variety of donation levels. This will be the first time Phoenix Landing has actively asked for financial support. There are almost always 150-plus birds waiting to enter the adoption program. Relinquishers often wait two to three years to have a home or place in the adoption centers at The Landing. In order to help more quickly, an additional adoption center with more capacity is needed. This campaign will be initiated this fall.
The best way to get involved with Phoenix Landing, however, is to attend an event, meet the adoption and education coordinators in your area, and talk with them about how you can help. They often need assistance transporting a bird to its new home, making home visits, getting the word out about classes, storing donated cages, and of course, fostering! If you are interested in fostering or adopting, please go to phoenixlanding.org to get started.
As the Phoenix Landing motto goes, “thanks for helping parrots!?