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In This Issue


Fire  August 25, 2014 in the Napa Valley, photo courtesy of ABC news


Fire... Earthquake... Drought... Flood 

How to Prepare for Disaster for your Flock 


Bonnie Zimmermann, Director



Disasters can occur at any time.  It is essential that for anyone that keeps pets, but more specifically parrots and birds needs to be prepared.  This article is written from first-hand experience by the author who lives in Northern California.  In 2014 we started the year with a severe drought, had to evacuate from a raging wildfire in July, experienced a large earthquake in August and finished off the year with significant power outages and flash flooding.

Photo ABC news


If a police car pulled up in front of your home and over the 

loudspeaker you heard...

"You have 90 minutes to evacuate." 

What would you do?



Whether it is an electrical fire in your home, hurricane, blizzard or even a simple power outage, frequently pet owners need to make quick decisions pertaining to the care of your birds.  After this past year of disasters and emergencies we have a good plan in place and everything we need to evacuate a flock of twelve parrots quickly and safely.



Get a Rescue Alert Sticker


This sticker will let people know that pets are inside your home. Make sure it is visible to rescue workers, and that it includes 1) the types and number of pets in your household; 2) the name of your veterinarian; and 3) your veterinarian's phone number. If you must evacuate with your pets, and if time allows, write "EVACUATED" across the stickers.  You can obtain these stickers free from the ASPCA or can find them at your local pet supply store.  We have placed them on all entry ways and several windows to ensure good coverage for rescue workers.

Arrange for a Safe Haven 


Arrange a safe haven for your pets in the event of evacuation. DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PETS BEHIND. Remember, if it isn't safe for you, it isn't safe for your pets. They may become trapped or escape and be exposed to numerous li

Topaz looking nervous

fe-threatening hazards. Note that not all Red Cross disaster shelters accept pets, so it is imperative that you have determined where you will bring your pets ahead of time:

  • Contact your veterinarian for a list of preferred boarding kennels and facilities.
  • Ask your local animal shelter if they provide emergency shelter or foster care for pets.
  • Identify hotels or motels outside of your immediate area that accept pets.
  • Ask friends and relatives outside your immediate area if they would be willing to take in your pet.
Our Red Cross Evacuation Center would not accept animals -- in the parking lot working on Plan B 


Emergency Kit


It is best to plan ahead and have on hand an emergency kit for your pets, and to practice to achieve a fast, safe and efficient evacuation during any emergency.  Be sure that everyone in the family knows where this kit is located.  It should be clearly labeled and easy to carry.


What to include:

  • Travel cage or carrier for each bird assembled and labeled with permanent ink with: Parrots name; Owners name, address and telephone number; Emergency contact name and telephone number; Veterinarian's name, address and telephone number ; "Reward When Returned to Owner" to increase your chance of having the bird returned should the carrier get lost in the commotion.
  • Disinfectant (e.g., Nolvasan) and spray bottle for holding disinfectant solution
  • Bottled Water (3 days minimum - up to 2 week's worth - rotate every 3 months)
  • Emergency Food - Dry Food (3 days minimum - up to 2 week's worth - rotate every 3 month) Paper Towels and Regular Towels
  • Any medications your pet may need - about two weeks' worth kept in waterproof container (rotate every two months). Have chemical ice packs and a small, insulated cooler, if medication needs refrigeration
  • Emergency contact information
  • Recent photograph and leg band or microchip information
  • Toys
  • Carry a spray bottle to moisten birds feathers in severe heat especially when near fire areas
  • Paper to line the cage
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Blanket to cover cage
  • Catch Net
  • Make sure that you have enough cash on hand. Credit cards cannot be processed when the electricity is out and checks may not be accepted


Geographic and Climatic Considerations


Do you live in an area that is prone to certain natural catastrophes, such as tornadoes, earthquakes or floods? If so, you should plan accordingly.

  • Determine well in advance which rooms are safe havens.  These rooms should be clear of hazards such as windows, flying debris, etc.
  • Choose easy-to-clean areas such as utility rooms, bathrooms and basements as safe zones
  • Access to a supply of fresh water is particularly important.  In areas that may lose electricity, fill up bathtubs and sinks ahead of time to ensure you have access to water during a power outage or other crisis.
  • In the event of flooding, go to the highest location in your home, or a room that has access to counters or high shelves were your animals can take shelter.
  • If emergency officials recommend that you stay in your home your birds may become stressed due to smoke or weather so you might consider crating them for safety, comfort and if necessary evacuation.








The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly


by Stewart Metz, Associate Director


Working with the Indonesian Parrot Project to conserve cockatoos (and other parrots) in Eastern Indonesia has been an exciting, rewarding, and life-changing experience overall. However, such work is bound to be comprised of a balance between successes and failures. The two stories below offer such a dichotomy but advance warning: parts of each story might be quite distressing to some.


Palm Cockatoo (Probosciger aterrimus)


We have seen only about 15 Palm cockatoos in the wild, since in Indonesia, they are found in Papua. We had the opportunity to visit a few of the Raja Ampat (Four Kings) Islands in West Papua 



Palm cockatoo in the wild;  photo courtesy Mandy Andrea


These cockatoos are striking not only in their unusual black coloration and huge beak, but in their noble and imposing way with which they seem to bear themselves in the wild. Their huge beaks are used to crack open the extremely hard shell of the ketapong nut. The Palm cockatoo is the only cockatoo which can open this nut.



Palm cockatoo opening ketapong nut; photo courtesy of Stewart Metz



Likewise, we saw only four Palm cockatoos on Seram. All of these had been trapped in the wild but then were confiscated by officials. These four Palms ended up on Seram Island rather than their true homeland , because the officials knew that we (the Indonesian Parrot Project) had a Rehabilitation and Release Center on Seram. The toll on them after trapping is, sadly, all too evident, not only by their placement in tiny cages and lack of exposure to sunlight, but also physically, especially in the skin around the beak. This characteristic feature of Palms (the cheek patch ) is probably a reflection of the blood vessels just underneath, and most commonly  is a deep salmon color although that is variable. 


However, when these cockatoos are stressed, that color fades, as in photo below, often approaching grey or even white. 


Captive Palm cockatoo; photo courtesy Stewart Metz



The look on the faces of the cockatoos which we saw in captivity, seemed to me no longer imposing, but perhaps one of acquiescence.


Unfortunately, they could not be released on Seram, but only in their Papua homeland. This would require prolonged quarantine  followed by extensive rehabilitation. Otherwise, there is the possibility of introducing foreign "bugs" from Seram to Papua, which might create significant  disease issues. Most directly, there was no such release center in West Papua.


Salmon-crested Cockatoos  (C. moluccensis)


In contrast, we saw many Salmon-crested cockatoos on Seram Island, their natural home, many of them in the wild. 


A pair of wild Salmon-crested cockatoos; photo courtesy Mandy Andrea



Whereas, many others were seen in our Rehabilitation and Release Center located near the village of Masihulan.


Photo courtesy of Stewart Metz



In contrast to Palm cockatoos, Seram is the homeland for Salmon-crested Cockatoos. Therefore, some many of the issues concerning this complex procedure can be circumvented. This is an example of the gratifying aspect of conservation work: even in the nascent years of IPP between 2005 and 2009, over 180 Salmon-crested Cockatoos were returned to the forest, using so-called "soft release". In soft release, following extensive rehabilitation, the cage door is opened and the bird is able to fly out-if so desired. If they choose not to, or if they return, food is left to feed them and the cage door remains open. In contrast, a "hard release" basically involves forcing any birds from their cage even if they choose not to leave. IPP was the first group ever to release these cockatoos using soft release.


A very happy event concerned... the firstborn 'child'of a pair of cockatoos! In the world of conservation, especially regarding birds, it can be difficult to trace the outcome, not only for a group of birds, but even more for individual birds.  Therefore,  conservationists often consider reproductive activity to be a good sign of a successive release.. Thus we were excited to observe two of the first cockatoos to be released, forming a pair bond, nest searching, producing a chick, followed by its fledging and eventually, the new cockatoo flew off on its on, and returned to the wild. 


Photo to left was taken by local villagers using a cell phone. Despite the poor quality, one can make out a grown cockatoo at the nest hole, with chick barely visible below.  A small but exciting step!






However, even in the midst of success, many of the other Salmon-crested cockatoos suffered some horrific treatment during their trapping and/or smuggling. The following is an example of this:

Photo courtesy of Mandy Andrea


This cockatoo had been the captive of a particularly cruel smuggler, who beat him about the head and elsewhere on his body. As a result, he came to us apparently totally blind, as could be seen by the cloudy appearance of his eyes.  Not surprisingly, he lashed out at anybody who approached him. He died within a day or two. Sadly, he represents some of the worst treatment that befalls these helpless birds. It is the smugglers, not this cockatoo, who are blind to the suffering they inflict on the parrots they trap.


Yes, it is always painful to witness the beauty and intelligence of cockatoos and other parrots to be reduced by the cruelty and the spiritual blindness of trappers and smugglers. But these difficult aspects of parrot conservation are more than outweighed by the sense of satisfaction of working to reduce trapping and smuggling. I also present them with the hope that they might stimulate some of you  to "do something about it."  


One thing our time in Indonesia has taught is that one person-and more than one-can make a big difference for parrots, either one-by-one, or working on behalf of a larger grouping such as a species or subspecies.


Either way, it is a thrilling ride! Any takers?





Upcoming Indiegogo Campaign to

Raise Money for the Abbotti Cockatoo Programs 


Your donation and sharing on Facebook, Twitter and social networks can make a difference! 


Our new campaign will begin in early March.  A special NFTF edition will be sent to you so keep your eyes open. 


We have some AMAZING perks for donations to this campaign including handmade recycled carry bags and purses from Women's cooperatives in Masalembu, original hand-dyed batiks from



 Madura, and hand made quilts and comforters, and much, much more! 


Stay tuned ... and help us please.  




Bonnie Zimmermann & Stewart Metz












Indonesian Parrot Project