COUNTY: Many people don't understand the high costs of raising feathered
Donaldson, The Bellingham Herald
- Each morning, Nate and Betsy Lott let some of their cockatoos
and macaws stretch their wings on tree stands in the family living
room, while others are allowed to roam from their cages in the family's
kind of a free-for-all, like Romper Room," Betsy Lott said
of the play time in the two-car garage. "They're raiding each
others' cages, playing with friends, tag teaming with each other
to drive the volunteers crazy."
are needed to help clean cages and care for birds at Mollywood
Avian Sanctuary, anytime from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. or 7 p.m. to
9 p.m., 7 days a week. Experienced electricians, plumbers
and construction workers also are needed for volunteer work.
For details, visit www.mollywood.net or call 966-7490.
Lotts have about 200 exotic cockatoos, cockatiels, parrots, parakeets
and love birds at their Mollywood Avian Sanctuary south of Everson,
and need more room.
hope to build a larger indoor/outdoor aviary and eventually open
an educational "bird park." Donors can sponsor a bird
to help raise funds for the agency.
couple moved here from California about a year ago - bringing along
more than 130 birds they had collected there - and opened an avian
rescue and adoption center. After mixed success with some well-meaning
but unprepared bird lovers, they decided to turn their not-for-profit
agency into a safe haven for exotic birds. Mollywood is named for
the Moluccan cockatoo, a breed that the sanctuary specializes in.
birds still check in, from owners who are no longer interested or
able to handle the high-maintenance pets, but they won't check out.
people don't understand what it takes to make these birds happy,"
said Lott, who has filled a two-car and three-car garage with cages
and "flights," which allow birds to fly more freely.
try to raise them as small children, and they are not teaching them
how to be birds. The people reach a breaking point and they seek
help," she said.
said some people seeking to adopt a bird simply did not understand
the the costs of veterinary bills, cages, food, etc., which can
run thousands of dollars a year for stressed-out birds that pick
off their own feathers or mutilate themselves.
the birds simply needed to be part of a flock, she said.
example, Lott took in one bare-eyed cockatoo that was a "complete
disturber of the peace," capable of evoking other, larger birds
into screeching fits that would wake the dead, she said. After the
owner received one too many noise complaints from the local police,
the bird came to Lott.
he's part of a group of seven birds that Lott dubbed "The Boys
in the Hood," a pack of cockatoos that plays together, harasses
volunteers and generally enjoys being birds.
much happier as a bird in a flock, and being in a household environment,
people can't always provide what they need," Lott said. "I
mean, he's sweet and everything, but he can also be a real turd."
a 1992 import ban prevents exotic birds from being brought into
the United States, resident breeders and the long lives of some
breeds - macaws and cockatoos can live 60 to 100 years - have combined
to create a glut on the market.
visit last spring to the Dutch Parrot Refuge in Holland convinced
the Lotts to get out of the adoption business and build a sanctuary.
To that end, they are looking for donations and volunteers to convert
a 32-x-48-foot pole building into two-story aviary with indoor and
outdoor free-flight areas. Architectural plans call for cages on
a south wall that open to outdoor flights of rolled welded wire,
so that birds can come and go at will.
is in the process of applying for grants and hopes to have the first
aviary completed by March.
long-term goal is to have a parrot education center and park where
people can come and be able to see birds flying in 100-foot long
aviaries, seeing these birds as they're supposed to be," Lott
bird refuge also needs volunteers to help with duties ranging from
cleaning cages and feeding birds to helping with socializing the
Jim Donaldson, Hometown editor, at email@example.com call 715-2288
from Bellingham Herald - Thursday, December 12, 2002