Birds of a feather
Matt Smith’s face reflects the mesh wiring covering the outdoor section of the aviary while Max, an African grey, relaxes on his shoulder.
Opportunities to fly and to flock, plus nutritious feed and quality care … the near ideal existence for captive birds and a reality for the various species of parrots living at The Central Virginia Bird Sanctuary.
Nestled on wooded land off Ellisville Drive, the non-profit Project Perry is home to macaws, conures, African greys, cockatoos, cockatiels, quakers, budgies (parakeets) and finches. A few live in spacious cages, but most soar freely, whistle and bathe in aviaries while bonding with similar feathered friends.
“Our goal is to create as natural an environment as possible in captivity,” said Matt Smith, executive director. “It’s not going to be perfect, but as best as we can.”
The best they can is far superior to the bird mills or cruel and abusive conditions under which the birds previously survived. Smith has saved parrots which were stuffed in cages under an open-sided carport.
Tallis and Ollie were seized in separate cruelty cases, but through the efforts of volunteer organizations, ended up at Smith’s sanctuary. Both were wild and fearful of caregivers.
Kept under observation in an indoor aviary, the two eventually bonded and Smith had the satisfaction of watching them cuddling and preening one another. Today, they fly free, communicating with each other and the flock in the African grey aviary.
Several larger parrots and the macaws still live in cages or sun rooms attached to the main house. These birds are being acclimated to their new lifestyle or are waiting for completion of additional aviaries.
To ensure the health of all birds, new arrivals are quarantined in cages for one to three months on the upper floor of the house. During that period, Smith and the volunteers evaluate their temperament and immediate needs.
Free to Fly
Two aviaries are fully functional at the site with cockatiels, budgies and finches sharing a smaller one and African greys enjoying the space of a 3,600- square-foot facility. After entering though a set of two catch doors to prevent a bird from accidentally escaping, the aviary resembles a well cared for woodland.
The sounds of flapping wings and calls greet visitors walking along mulched paths. Birds can choose between a Quonset-style section with polycarbonate siding and propane heat in colder months or a large stainless-steel mesh-sided outdoor area in warmer weather.
To read the entire story, see the April 11 edition of The Central Virginian.