Fall/Winter 2009/2010 is my second season here at the Oasis and it is only getting…
I learned about The Oasis Sanctuary 2 years ago, began making small donations and buying various items from their web site. For Christmas, my husband Joe gave me a trip to The Oasis Sanctuary to be a Volunteer. I asked Joe to go with me, and he agreed.
The Oasis provides Volunteer accommodations. We volunteered for 4 days. Sybil gave us a tour of this amazing sanctuary. The facility sets on 72 acres in an old pecan orchard, in The San Pedro River Valley surrounded by mountains, 50 miles east of Tucson.
We met the more than 650 birds living at the sanctuary. There are birds of all species – big and small ones, healthy and ill ones. Joe bonded with Jordi, a Goffin cockatoo who arrived 11 years ago with an open wound on her side but thanks to the staff she barely has a scar now.
There are birds in cages and small flights in a pole building that has a misting system in summer and heat in winter. There are like-species in the outdoor flight cages. For birds that cannot be outside, there is a large enclosed building. There are also 2 trailers: one houses small birds with chronic problems and the other is the hospital.
The facility is operated by an onsite staff of 9 people who have come from around the US to dedicate themselves to these beautiful birds. They are very organized and have a systemized method for their loving care of the 650+ birds. The day starts with counting and checking the health of every bird. The next 4-5 hours is spent collecting, washing and sterilizing each food and water bowl, refilling the bowls and distributing them to the correct bird(s.) After feeding was complete we went with a staff member to where all uneaten food from the prior day is dumped for the wildlife. A total of 18 Javelinas appeared that day, eating mainly the fruit and veggies and leaving the seed for the wild birds.
After lunch the cleaning of the cages and buildings begins. We helped clean the office and Gulliver’s cage our first day. On day two we raked the outdoor pole building area. Day three we raked various aviaries. The raking was fun as you get to visit with each bird in the area. We cleaned the pumpkin trailer (known for its orange color) and mingled with some of the smaller birds that have special needs.
One evening we spent a few hours talking with Sybil about The Oasis organization. The amount of research Sybil did to get the 501 certification and before purchasing land was mind-boggling. She has devoted her heart and soul to this organization, but also her life’s savings and signed over her personal birds to the facility. She believes if the facility is good enough for her own birds, then it will be good enough for every bird that needs the facility.
The Oasis is equipped to handle small medical emergencies on-site and their dedicated veterinarian is able to take care of a major emergency day or night.
There were two different sets of incoming birds within the 4 days we were there and one of those happened in the middle of the night! What awesome commitment this safe haven offers!
Joe and I helped the staff clean cages in the large building known as “the barn.” Here I met and fell for an African Grey named Rita who was new to The Oasis and a little apprehensive about everyone. By the time I finished cleaning her cage, I was calling her “Rita, Rita, my pretty Senorita.” I met Alfie, an African Grey who followed me around on the floor with his head turned to one side, giving me the “one-eye.” Sukie, Alfie’s Grey girlfriend, was pre-occupied playing with paper on the floor.
There is a screened-in porch at the office where 5 cockatoos live. One of them is an Eleanora ‘too’ that has beautiful head feathers, no wing feathers and fuzzy down everywhere else. His name is Gandolf. He instantly became the love of my life! He climbed up the wire enclosure, with missing toes on one foot and only a stub on the other leg, to tell me “go night-night” in his deep raspy voice. Gandolf repeated these actions on every visit I had with him. Getting to hold him was definitely one of the highlights of my visit!
On day four Joe and I went to each and every bird, dragging hoses and water sprayers to bathe everyone. We went back to some of the cockatoos and amazons multiple times because of their love for water. Although I was supposed to be “working” I found myself enjoying my time there and not wanting it to come to an end.
If you are thinking about getting a bird, already have a bird, or want to start your own rescue organization, please visit The Oasis Sanctuary first. The Oasis will give you the knowledge and experience for becoming a responsible bird person. Maybe you are even looking for a different kind of vacation… this offers the opportunity to gain bird knowledge and experience.
I learned that even a dollar helps toward the operating expenses for this wonderful establishment. It doesn’t matter whether it is one, five or ten dollars or even those pennies you throw in a jar, it all adds up and means so much to the birds. We now plan to establish a trust as we have a few birds that may outlive us. They will need this beautiful facility some day.
I left not tired and weary, but feeling good about helping this worthy cause and these beautiful, intelligent beings. In fact, I’m saving some vacation to go back again! The Oasis Sanctuary will forever be in our hearts and memories.