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Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Wanted: Bird Volunteers

By Jessica Pineda, Associate Editor of BIRD TALK and
Follow in the adventures of Jessica Pineda's experiences in bird ownership in The Parrot Life.

volunteer for the lorikeets
Volunteering at a zoo or aquarium offers a chance to work with birds, like these lorikeets, that live in a flock but still get day-to-day human interaction.

My dad had a saying for me: “Charity hurts.” It’s something I always keep in mind whenever I donate to the various nonprofit organizations. But, besides giving a monetary amount every month, I figured there were more ways that I could help out the causes I believe in.

I recently started volunteering at a local aquarium, which has an aviary of lorikeets, including Swainson’s lorikeets, Edward’s lorikeets, ornate lorikeets and more. It also has a few species of shorebirds and two ducks. All of the shorebirds are rescues, some with disabilities, and many of the lories have been adopted by the aquarium. The aquarium’s message is to “instill a sense of wonder, respect, and stewardship for the Pacific Ocean, its inhabitants, and ecosystems,” which it does through a variety of fun programs and exhibits. You can feed the lories, which eagerly land on your head, arms, side, hair, clothes … and then proceed to try to eat your buttons. (Typical parrots!)

Why lories at an aquarium, you might ask? Lories are from coastal lowlands of Australia. But lories are not the only bird it takes care of — there is an adorable male sulphur-crested cockatoo named Lola. It also has a few different marsupials, like the resident hedgehog.

So why volunteer at an aquarium, or even a zoo? It’s not just the fun of watching lorikeets zip around you (which, I must admit, is a lot of fun). But it is a good way to be part of parrot conservation, or any type of conservation. You are directly impacting the many people who come to zoos or aquariums with your passion for parrots, or any other animals. And you also have the unique opportunity to share your passion with others.

Many organizations provide ideas for how to directly (or indirectly) help animals in the wild, including parrots. Organizations, like the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), have adoption programs where you can adopt a bird out in the wild. Through the WWF, you can adopt a macaw, sulphur-crested cockatoo, a toucan, or a variety of animals. The WWF also provides tips for living green, indirectly helping wild animals. You can learn more about the World Wildlife Fund at its website.

The World Parrot Trust offers a variety of ideas to help with parrot conservation. They include volunteering at a local zoo or shelter, supporting eco-tourism and drinking fair trade, organic coffee. Learn about other conservation ideas from the World Parrot Trust by visiting its website.

Parrots International also offers volunteering projects in Peru, where your job, according to its website, “include[s] observation of birds at clay licks, radio tracking, parrot point counts, foraging observations, weighing and measuring chicks and plant phenology work.” Learn more about Parrots International and its volunteer programs here.

If you are interested in helping out at a local zoo or shelter, check it out and see where you can offer your services. I’ve seen volunteer activities posted on Craigslist, as well. They are many ways to help with parrot conservation; the possibilities are endless!

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Wanted: Bird Volunteers

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Reader Comments
Volunteering is so fun and a really great way to get involved and help out a cause at the same time. I think that everyong should volunteer for something! Even if it isn't at a bird sanctuary or aquarium!
Nancy, Woodstown, NJ
Posted: 3/19/2009 1:39:30 PM
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