As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Bird pandemonium on the peninsula

LOS ALTOS HILLS, Calif. (KGO) -- Tucked away in the Los Altos Hills, there is a bird sanctuary that few people know about. Inside they are trying to bring back endangered birds to release to the wild. It's not open to the public often, but ABC7 News has your ticket in. 

Walking into Pandemonium Aviaries, visitors are greeted by a chorus of cackles, screeches, whoops, and coos. The majestic birds are surrounded by whimsy in the Los Altos Hills. But, this isn't just a bird sanctuary... it is also Michele Raffin's home. 

"We have two versions of how we got our name," explained Raffin. "Our first is our official version, which is pandemonium is the flock name for parrots. But the real version is that we had the name before we had parrots, and we knew it was the flock name for parrots." 

Raffin started her flock in 1997 when she stopped on Lawrence Expressway to rescue an injured dove. 

"I didn't want to see just lie there waiting to be run over again by a car, so I picked it up and took it to a vet," said Raffin. 

Word quickly spread that Raffin was willing to help out injured or abandoned birds. 

"One by one, then 10 by 10, and then hundreds started coming," added Raffin. 

Raffin's countless rescues led to Pandemonium Aviaries, a non-profit organization. Now, volunteers help take care of the animals and maintain the facilities. 

"This is the last aviary," described Raffin. "It's called the last aviary because every time I build and aviary, I tell my husband, 'This is the last aviary.' Problem is that it got confusing because we kept moving it. So we retired it at number 9, and we now have 64 aviaries." 

Though Pandemonium Aviaries still cares for the sick and injured animals they initially took in, they no longer accept rescue birds. 

"We breed endangered birds for release to the wild. We are a conservation organization," said Raffin. 

Today, Pandemonium Aviaries is one of the largest bird sanctuaries in the United States. The facility is home to more than 360 birds and 70 endangered species.

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