On days without shows, everything starts at 7am sharp at Parrots in Paradise. Everyone needs to be up and working in order to get every avian fed, watered and cleaned. There are 3 ‘alleys’ for the different breeds, and each helper and volunteer is allocated one. Those working on the alleys have to change the seed, water and nut mix bowls, pick up any fallen toys and then sweep and hose down the floors of every cage. Birds that sleep inside are moved to their outdoor cages, and the food helpers start taking out the fresh fruit and nut bowls to give to each bird. This was the job given to me as the girl currently in charge of it will be getting a minor promotion while Dail is away, so they’re hoping I can take it up. Two meals are made each day – The morning dishes are made in the evening, and while the evening dishes are getting washed, the morning meals are set out and given any additions (such as yoghurt, sweetcorn and passion fruit). When this is done, you can give each bird their bowl – which is harder than it sounds as some birds ‘know’ what dish is theirs, and will refuse or act up if given the wrong bowl, and then collect the washed dishes to start shelling out fruit and seed for the evening meal…and grab extra bowls to fix up the morning dishes as well.
There is technically a photo board I’m supposed to use as a reference…but the birds have smashed dishes and the new baby birds have thrown off the numbers so I’m right now I’m reliant on Dail whose showing me the ropes – and in future reliant on Jess who currently does this job.
Due to me having to be trained (as well as Jade whose just getting the hang of things), we’re running very late today and get the job done a few hours later than would normally be desirable (much to the dismay of the parrots who had to wait a few extra hours for their fruit). Not helped by the minor disaster in the morning when it was discovered one of the birds had gotten trapped in its nesting box and nobody had noticed. Everyone in the alley’s has to get visual confirmation of each bird to stop this from happening – too many new people meant this didn’t happen, but at least the bird hasn’t suffered too badly, and got some much needed food in them after a day without.
After a quick lunch break, its on to the more basic chores – chopping vegetables for dinner and general cleaning. I spent my time dusting and reorganising parts of the very small store (filled with items donated by the public to go towards the birds costs), before the 3pm afternoon shift started.
In the afternoon, you have to replenish the food and water bowls. You grab the fruit bowls left in the fridge this morning, and then go onto the other bowls. I started with the water. You basically empty it out, clean it with water and a microscopic amount of disinfectant, and fill half way. Its the same for the seed bowl (only making sure not to throw out the old seed, but put into a bucket to be ‘willowed’ later), and for the nut bowl, you can either empty out, or just add a few more pieces to the bowl depending on the state of it.
The inside birds are the eclectus parrots that often have babies or can be hard to handle. There is in fact a female that is so territorial (especially now that she has babies) that everyone has been warned not to take their eyes off her when she’s out, and not to go near the fruit bowl unless she’s inside the nest box. There’s also Kaya, who shares his cage with a partner…but also has a mistress on the other side of the room. Unfortunately, he has a tendency to kill said partners young, so you have to watch the two of them to protect the nest box.
Finally, once the food has been replenished, its time to start bringing in the indoor birds, taking care with the younger babies as they need to be fed first, and the work day is finally over. Any time after this is free time to shower, relax and generally hang out until we hear the bell for dinner (and followed by another bout of cuddling baby parrots).
Now that I’ve written it out, it really doesn’t seem like it should have taken as long as it did. Admittedly, at the moment I’m responsible for approximately for 23-25 birds (not including chicks), and I’m still learning what needs to be done. Hoping it’ll get easier as I get used to it.
Tomorrow is a show day, so have to be up and ready for 6:30 to make sure everything’s ready for 10am!
By the way, you can check out where I’m staying here (www.parrotsinparadise.net) if you want to see some videos and learn about the show and sanctuary.