‘ALL THESE BIRDS ARE GOING TO OUTLIVE ME,’ SAYS FOUNDER, WHO SEEKS CONTINUING SUPPORT
By Isel Longoria
Shelters for dogs and cats are common, but bird shelters are harder to find. The Santa Barbara Bird Sanctuary (SBBS) in Summerland is the only parrot shelter in the county.
The nonprofit’s mission is to “rescue and rehabilitate unwanted, abused, and orphaned companion parrots.”
Sanctuary director Jamie McLeod founded SBBS in 2004. Before starting the nonprofit, she was a bird breeder and owned The Menagerie, a parrot store, and she realized there was a need for parrot shelters in the Santa Barbara area.
“After about a decade it became apparent that there was actually more of a need to be re-homing unwanted birds rather than bringing new ones into the world,” McLeod said.
Now the sanctuary carries more than 60 large parrots with some of them available for adoption. The staff and volunteers help clean, care and cook for the birds.
“We don’t just feed them bird seeds. We actually cook for them and they get lots of fruits and vegetables,” McLeod said.
These intelligent, exotic birds are also avian ambassadors for the sanctuary’s Skylar Learning Center. It was named after Skylar Runswick, a little girl from Idaho who fell in love with the sanctuary’s birds and its purpose. Skylar’s family foundation provided grant funding for the learning center.
“The first program that we encourage (kids) to take is World of Wing (W.O.W) and that’s where I bring out each different (bird) and we talk about where they come from,” McLeod said. Other learning programs such as Conservations Adaptations Rescue Environment (C.A.R.E) and Parrots in Art, Literature and Science (P.A.L.S) also educate children.