Here are more residents of The Sanctuary Room. Would you like to sponsor one of these feathered friends? The sponsor donates $25 or more toward the care of the birds, and their name will be listed on this page and on the bird's cage card for one year. Email us at BurgeBirdServices@yahoo.com if you would like to become a sponsor.
Meet Nana, the macho male parrot with a grandma name. You won't see a lot of birds like him, because he is a Hondurensis Amazon, a subspecies of the Double Yellow Head Amazon. This species was named less than 20 years ago; prior to that it was thought they may be a cross between a Double Yellow Head and a Yellow Nape Amazon.
Nana, who was born in 1979, has been paired with several different females, and was even flown to Vermont to meet a couple of girls to see which one he liked. He was part of The Hondurensis Project, where the birds were DNA tested to find the best potential matches. The idea was to have good genetic diversity in order to preserve the species. The problem was Nana was always too aggressive with the girls, and they had to be separated for the safety of the females.
This is Maxine, the female Hondurensis Amazon. She is thought to have been hatched in 1980. She initially got along with Nana in Vermont, so the two of them were sent back here to Missouri to see if they would make babies. Shortly after they arrived they had to be moved into separate cages, and every time they try to be together there is a fight, so she is now single for life.
Female Amazons have a reputation as sweeter and more gentle than the males. Unlike parakeets and cockatiels, where only the males are likely to talk, female parrots can be just as good at speaking as males. Amazons are usually the best singing birds, and they are excellent at mimicking a baby crying, smoke alarms, and other annoying sounds.
Charlie Boy, the male Red Lored Amazon, is shown here with his late friend Lolita. They were both older imported birds, and destined to be together because Charlie Boy's lower beak overgrows to the left while Lolita's overgrew to the right. They looked like mirror images of each other. Most birds can live their whole lives without needing a beak trim because they wear down during normal eating and chewing on toys.
Diego the Double Yellow Headed Amazon was born in 1987 and came to us after he hit puberty and became more difficult to handle. It is very common for male Amazons to become aggressive when their testosterone levels start to rise at age 5 or 6. Most people aren't prepared for a pet that attacks family members and don't understand why their once lovable baby bird has turned into a crazed wild animal.
If it was easy to spay and neuter birds like it is with dogs and cats, a lot of behavior problems could be prevented. Many parrot owners do not have the patience to research ways to address the unwanted behaviors caused by hormones. We expect these animals that were either born in the wild, or are just one or two generations removed from the wild, to follow our rules of behavior like dogs do.
At first glance you might think Mellow Yellow would get dizzy being upside down like this for a long time. Parrots love to live in the three dimensional world, either climbing around upside down or by flying, while we pitiful, limited humans are stuck in pretty much two dimensions unless we jump up and down or do something like get in an airplane.
Mellow Yellow is one of the few birds living in the sanctuary for whom we know the exact date of his hatching. He hopes for a party to celebrate his 20th birthday on June 1, 1996. Double Yellow Head Amazons tend to start life with very little yellow, and they get more as they age. In our experience, the males seem to have more yellow than the females.
Elvis is still in the building. It can be difficult to find the right home for a sexually mature male Amazon. In the wild they are full of testosterone and ready to defend their mate and territory. We have not actually tested Elvis to prove that he is a boy, but he sure acts like one. The "Hot Three" Amazon species, the Double Yellow Heads, Yellow Napes, and Blue Fronts, are the ones with the reputation for the most aggressive behavior, but these species are also the best talkers and singers.
Elvis was born in 1984, and he may live to be 50, 60, 70, or even older. We knew one Amazon that died at age 70 after spending his entire life with one family. The owner was 75, and her mother had purchased the bird when the daughter was 5 years old. She said it was like losing her little brother when he passed away.
Orange Wing Amazons may look like Blue Front Amazons to the untrained eye, but Princess spread her tail feathers out just enough that you can see they are more orange than red, and her blue, yellow, and green are much more muted colors compared to Blue Fronts. Many Amazons have some red/blue/dark green/light green tail feathers, while others just have the two toned green. These feathers are gorgeous, and we sell them on eBay as a fundraiser for our rescue/sanctuary birds, so we are always asking people to save and donate their feathers.
We think Princess was born around 1994, and we know she started plucking herself in 2004. Feather plucking is one of the most complex and frustrating problems seen by avian veterinarians, and there are dozens of different medical and psychological causes.
Joey came from a hoarding situation in St. Joseph MO in 1992. Hoarding was not a household word back then, we just thought of it as people who had too much stuff or too many animals that they didn't take care of properly. A house fire brought the situation to the attention of the fire department, because over 300 birds were found in the home. Blue Front Amazons like Joey were living in filthy little cages of a size more suitable for cockatiels.
We don't know how old Joey is, and we had to do a DNA blood test to determine that he was a male. Most Amazons, and most parrots in general, look identical whether they are male or female. You can sometimes make guesses based on the fact that females usually have wider spacing between the pelvic bones so they can pass eggs.
It may look like Blue, the aptly named Blue Front Amazon, has red and black wings, but she just has a feather out of place. Amazons have 3 or 4 distinctive feathers like this in the middle of the row of flight feathers, and you normally only see them if they spread their wings.
Since Blue passed through at least two homes before she came to live with us in 1998, we don't know her age. She had a few babies with Joey in the early 2000's, but like so many couples they ended up fighting a lot and got divorced after the kids grew up and left home.
Sponsored by: Terri Madden and Blue Dog in Louisiana (to January 2020)
Sam is a female Blue Front who came to us as an adult of unknown age in 1998. She has never been paired up with another bird and was never tame as far as we know. Although she has no band to prove it, she was probably imported from the wild.
Between 1972 and 1992, imported birds had bands applied around their legs with a combination of three letters followed by three numbers. There is no way to tell whether these birds were babies or adults when they were captured in the wild, or what year they were imported. For decades the parrots you saw in pet stores were mostly these wild, frightened birds that in many cases never learned to love or trust humans.
Red Lored Amazons are seen less frequently than they used to be because they aren't in demand as one of the best talking Amazon species. Charlie Girl (yes, this makes a total of three birds named Charlie in the Sanctuary Room) is another imported bird of unknown age.
Charlie Girl came to us after her owners left her behind when they were evicted from their apartment. It is hard to imagine how someone could do that to an animal; to leave it locked in a cage, locked in an apartment, with no way to know if someone would come in and find the pet in time before it died of starvation or dehydration. Fortunately the apartment manager found her and called us in to rescue her.
Sponsored by: Deana Brown (10/18 to 10/19)
Gus is a Grand Champion show bird thanks to his outstanding grooming habits. He always looks shiny and perfect, and he is poised and calm even when traveling to unfamiliar places. Since he likes men better than women, it didn't hurt that most of the judges at the shows were men, and Gus would flirt with them.
Bird shows are essentially beauty contests for parrots. They are judged on whether every feather is perfectly in place, the nails and beak are of the proper length, their posture is perfect, and their behavior is calm and steady. They are scored against the "ideal" specimen of their species. In the cockatiel and budgie show community, the larger birds seem to be favored, but some of those larger birds are obese and die early from fatty liver or heart disease. One judge said Gus was the largest Red Lored Amazon she had ever seen, which doesn't mean that he is the healthiest, although he has never been sick in his 25 years with us.
Lilacine Amazons are extremely rare in captivity. They are a subspecies of the Red Lored Amazon (as seen above) but lack the yellow on the cheeks and have a darker shade of red on the forehead and an all black beak. One person familiar with the species estimated there might be 300 of them in the United States back in the early 1990's. That is why we worked so hard to find Higgins a mate and set her up for breeding. Unfortunately, some kind of problem in her uterus made her lay only a couple of rough shelled eggs, and then her mate died.
Higgins was an adult when she came to us in 1991. We are certain she was imported because nobody would have been breeding a rare bird like this in the 1970's or 80's. Before DNA sexing became available starting in the late 80's and early 90's, birds were surgically sexed with an endoscope through a small incision in the left side of the body. Once DNA sexing became available, only a handful of veterinarians and breeders have continued putting birds at risk of complications or even death by putting them under anesthesia and cutting a hole in their bodies.
Many people are unaware there are two different species of African Grey Parrot. Tiffany is a Timneh (pronounced tim-nuh) African Grey, the less commonly seen type. Compared to their cousins the Congos, Timnehs are smaller, have a very dark red tail, and the upper beak is partly beige instead of being solid black.
Tiffany was imported from Africa so we don't know her age. Tiffany does the cutest little kitten meow, but she never talks. Both Congo and Timneh African Greys can be great talkers, and are very popular pets because of their ability to learn our language.
Squawky the Timneh Grey is another of our imported birds. He (or she) came to us with a Timneh named Baldy with whom he had been paired up to breed, but since neither bird was ever sexed, the owner didn't know if she had boys, girls, or one of each. When they didn't have any babies after several years, they came to live in our Sanctuary.
Squawky came to us missing 6 of his 8 toenails. We don't know what happened to cause this, but it is common to see birds missing one nail following an accident. This usually occurs when the nail is caught in a toy, a rope, or a gap in the cage bars. A single missing nail usually does not cause any impairment. Squawky does have a little bit more trouble climbing and perching because he doesn't have those nails to help dig in and wrap around the bars or perches.
Mia and Harley are Orange Wing Amazons with a complicated history. Mia, hiding at the top of the cage, was one of the last babies from our breeding flock before we stopped allowing the birds to breed. Hatched in 2001 and sold, she went thru three homes that we know of before she was surrendered to the other bird rescue here in town. They were nice enough to turn the pair over to us when we discovered that this was one of our babies.
Harley was reportedly hatched in 1986, and we have no way of knowing if that is accurate or how many homes he may have lived in. He is very protective of his beautiful young wife, and stayed on the lower perch lunging at the camera as this picture was taken.
Flossie is one of the youngest of the larger parrots in the sanctuary. Born (or hatched if you prefer) in 2000, she lived in her first home for 6 years, and her second home for 9 years. Her second owner developed an allergy to her dust causing asthma and bronchitis. African Greys, Cockatoos, and Cockatiels put out a lot more dust than other parrots, and it can cause allergies in humans and even in some other parrots like Blue and Gold Macaws.
Flossie is bossy (it rhymes!) and will act perfectly nice until she just decides to go for the chomp. Dr. Julie is nursing a healing wound as she types this following a surprise attack after picking Flossie up off the floor.
These guys are Lefty and Poncho, the Zebra Finch boys. They were part of a group of 25 finches that were allegedly "abandoned" on a lady's porch, but animal control tells us that she is a known hoarder. Lefty is missing most of one foot, and later broke that leg and had to have it amputated. Poncho is missing several toes, and was being picked on by some of the other 25 finches.
Besides this perch, the boys have multiple wooden and wire platforms to perch on in their flight cage. They would be prone to sores on their good feet if they had to spend all of their time on round, hard, wooden perches.
Caruso the Canary was only 3 years old when he came to live with us, but he already had a problem. For most of his life he had some kind of respiratory problem. Despite multiple different treatments, he has not responded and gotten back to normal, and he is so small that it is hard to run any tests on him.
After 6 months of trying, we decided to let him live out his life in our sanctuary with other little birds and daily monitoring by the staff to make sure that he continues to feel fine.