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Feathered Therapy PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mike Woody   
Wednesday, 07 November 2012 00:00

After her father suffered a major stroke, Suzie Barnes cared for him for over a year. It was a very draining time, both emotionally and physically, but each found solace in the company of a pet bird. A cockatiel named Beaky inspired Barnes to greet each day and also made an impression upon her father, who without being able to speak, could still communicate with the bird.

Beaky and friends brought the same spirit lifting energy on a visit to residents of the Koester Pavilion. Barnes and other members of the Miami Valley Bird Club & Rescue (MVBCR) brought eight birds to the living care center for the residents, including Barnes’s father, to see. “The residents really enjoyed it. You could see their smiles,” said Barnes.

After moving her father into the Koester Pavilion, Barnes would take Beaky with her to visit and would attract much attention from the residents. She was then asked to develop a presentation featuring more birds.

Barnes, of Tipp City, has five birds of her own, all of which were adopted is passionate about educating the public about being a responsible bird owner. “People get them because they are pretty, but birds take a lot of work and expense,” said Barnes.

The MVBCR puts a lot of focus on finding good homes for birds that are abandoned by their owners. Gaston Herndon, says that many people don’t realize all the noise that birds, such as cockatiels make. They then get tired of hearing it and want to get rid of the bird.

Many of the exotic birds also have a long life expectancy, up to 70 years. Owners should make plans for someone to take custody of the bird after their death. “You want to add the birds to your will. They will outlive you,” said Herndon.

A need always exists for foster homes, and the MVBCR can provide most any type of bird someone would want. Beyond being free, Barnes see’s many benefits for potential bird owners to foster. “It’s a great way to see if having a bird is the right fit for you,” she said.

The bonds formed with her birds bring Barnes much joy through companionship and lots of laughter. She’s continuously amazed by their intelligence and ability to learn new words. Cockatiels have the intelligence of a 3 to 5 year old. “Beaky screams every night at 9:15 until my son goes to bed. I can’t get him to go to bed, but Beaky can,” she said.

To help keep the birds socialized, Barnes often takes Beaky with her on errands around Tipp, such as to CVS to see the pharmacist.

To further educate the public, Barnes is trying to get a presentation in the schools about birds. The program was so well received at Koester Pavilion that they were asked back in December. Two cockatoos were also donated by the MVBCR for the residents to enjoy.


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