The importance of a Certified Avian Vet

Hi!  I’m Sammy, a blue and gold macaw.  In November 2014, I was surrendered to Fallen Feathers.  I had been living alone for a while as my previous owner(s) didn’t like it when I made noise and they said I wasn’t friendly.


On my left wing, I had a growth that had been growing for 10 years.   Jody was concerned about it and took me to Dr. Hillary Frank at North Central Animal Hospital. The doctor took some bloodwork and determine that surgery was a necessity.

In the meantime, I visited with other birds, meet many volunteers, introducing myself to anyone that would walk into the garage.  The garage contained other Macaws and lots of other birds.  I like having all the new friends.

The day came for my surgery. Surgery is dangerous for anyone, but especially for birds.  It is very difficult. Luckily, Dr. Frank is a Certified Avian Veterinarian, so I knew I was in good hands.  She wanted the best for me and I was certainly happy to be rid of that lump.


The mass that was on my wing was sent to the lab for testing. We found out that it was benign. Jody was relieved. I wasn’t yet as I had to heal for 2 weeks with the cone of shame around my neck.

While wearing the cone, volunteers had to hand feed me and give me water.   I also got to sleep on the perch since the cone couldn’t fit in a cage and allow me much movement. I’m sure the other birds were somewhat jealous.

It’s been a few months.  I am fully healed and looking for my forever home.

King for the Day

Baby bird season took over the Sanctuary.  I watched over 1,000 birds come in and out of Fallen Feathers from March to July.  The baby Great Horned owls that took over the aviaries next to mine are now fully feathered Juvenile Great Horned owls ready to be released and explore the world of their own.

Experienced volunteers are busy training new volunteers and saying goodbye to volunteers going off to college.  Needless to say it’s been a busy couple of months.   And it’s hot. People in Arizona only stay outside as long as they have to.

Yesterday, I was privileged to attend the Bye Bye Buzzard event at Boyce Thompson Arboretum.  It’s an annual event that the park has been doing for 20 years.  This is the second time we have participated.


The buzzards were everywhere lined on the cliffs.  There was a  group of people watching the buzzards and learning about vultures when we arrived.  Everyone was happy to see me up close.  I don’t go to as many events as the other birds, but when I do, it’s special.  Today was MY day.

Red (Red Tailed Hawk), Nod (American Kestrel), Digger (Burrowing Owl) and Raven also attended.  They enjoyed being out and hanging out in the beautiful trees.  Well, not Digger, he still prefers his basket.



Thank you, Paul for inviting us and celebrating the buzzard.  Thank you to the staff and all the fellow birders for making us feel welcome.  We hope to be back for Welcome Back Buzzards next year.

Voldemort, the Turkey Vulture

Dusty in the Storm

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My name is Dusty, I am a Barn Owl. Today two volunteers came into my aviary and brought me inside, where I met another volunteer. This one had a big scary thing hanging from her neck. It was called a camera by others. I had many pictures taken of me (above) and I screamed at the volunteers to scare them. When I tried to fly away, they grabbed and placed me in a carrier.

From there I met the three volunteers who took me for a ride to my new home. They talked and I screeched over them, making it difficult to hear. I didn’t like listening to this “Katy Perry” person, and screamed at them to stop it.

When we arrived, I saw trees, bushes, and farmland. This would be my new home. As soon as we were about to release there was a terrible beeping sound, an alert appeared on all three volunteers’ phones at once: “Severe Dust Storm”. The volunteers refused to release in such bad weather. So we started our long drive back to the rescue where I would be safe in my aviary. I saw other birds struggling to fly in the strong wind. I am glad they didn’t put me out there.

On the way back I complained, I had a very long day and was tired; also, the volunteers stopped for ice cream, which I wanted to try. Although I did stop complaining and was silent for one song by a person known as “P!nk”. This radio thing is very interesting. Now I am sitting and waiting for my release in the aviary with some food.  I appreciate the shelter, I am protected from the ongoing storm.

-Dusty, the Barn Owl

P.S.  I had to wait two more days due to bad weather.  I heard the volunteers talking and they put me back in a carrier and back in the car.  I complained and jumped around.  I lurched at where the opening of the carrier was but it wouldn’t give.  I had to endure another car ride.   The volunteers took me back to the same place.  It was perfect and I was very happy and excited.  I quickly flew away, stretching my wings, knowing I was free.


Holy Baby Bird Season

It’s March 31. I’m taking a car ride to Fallen Feathers from Wickenburg. They thought I was a Cooper Hawk baby, but I am a week old Great Horned Owl nestling and I am already an orphan. I have cuts on my head.   I was warmed up, my wounds were cleaned and then I was fed.

Gonzo, the Great Horned Owl

Gonzo, the great horned owlet

I don’t balance well yet. I miss my nest. It’s made to help hold me in. Mom and/or Dad couldn’t come help me after I landed on the ground since owl feet (talons) are made for crushing; killing our prey. My parents normally would keep me warm since i’m still all covered in fluff – a heating pad set on low now does that job. An incubator is ready if I need it.

As a baby, I sleep most of the day, but I do open my eyes a little. I have also quickly adapted to the silver tool that feeds me twice a day. Right now I just eat small mice, but as I get older I’ll need at least a rat a day to fill me up.

I’m learning things every day. I am honing my hearing skills. Owl ears are especially sensitive so that they can hear their prey’s every move. Have you ever seen an owl ear? Mine are easy to see right now since my feathers haven’t come in yet. Take a look.


There are lots of other babies here already. Sparrows mostly right now. 71% of the total bird count Fallen Feathers receives in a year is during April, May, June and July.   I am told that there will be many other great horned owls here soon, but I am the first of this year. Fallen Feathers has gotten between 10-15 Great Horned Owls a year for the past 3 years. Friends will be nice to have.


Update – April 25th

Volunteers were not kidding. The first week i was here, several owls have arrived. The “twins” – they are at least 2-3 weeks older than me. a Barn owl, Priscilla. She screams at everyone but is about my age. This week, we got in 2 adult barn owls, and a week old barn owl. There were also two other sibling great horned owls dropped off on separate days. The first one, Harry, seems fine. The other, Troy, has some tummy trouble and needs more care.

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We also have lots of baby ducks, hummingbirds and sparrows right now. We all grow at different rates and have different needs. It’s amazing to watch.

Gonzo, the Great Horned Owl

Volunteer Profile: Combining my love of hiking and Bird watching!

As an avid bird watcher and nature lover, being outside brings such peace and relaxation and with so much to be thankful for.   It’s an added blessing in my life. Several times a week you will find me visiting Rio Vista Park at Thunderbird and 101.  The walking paths are asphalt and there is plenty of wildlife to see.

Some of my most treasured sightings, besides the coyotes and butterflies, are the great horned owl, roadrunner, green heron, egret, a pair of ravens nesting under the bridge, hawks, ducks, kestrels and the beautiful finches. I have also encountered the woodpecker and the occasional rare bird flying through such as a Cardinal.

I am also, avid heart rock collector; I have built quite the collection. In the spring time, the wildflowers are at their most gorgeous and fragrances lull the senses into a peaceful relaxed state of extreme calmness. Each time I venture out there, I am never without a sighting and often I get surprised by who shows up! So being outside in nature, and being serenaded by the songs of birds, is a total stress reliever and a reminder of how beautiful life truly is.

You won’t be disappointed if you choose to visit Rio Vista. Your senses will be delighted and I guarantee a big smile on your face and a full heart!

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Pam, Volunteer at Fallen Feathers

#birds #volunteer #birdwatching #hiking #riovistacommunitypark #Peoria #greathornedowl #egret #finch #roadrunner #heron #wildlife

Completely Unexpected

The past month has been event after event after event after event.  It’s good for Fallen Feathers – lots of opportunity to educate people.  As birds, we get our pictures taken and see all the ooohhhhs and aaahhhh and what is that?

Tres RIos Nature Festival is an event we have been going to for years.  If you have never been, It’s out by Phoenix International Raceway – south of I-10 on Avondale.  The festival has AZ Game and Fish and several of the local Audubon Societies and other vendors for people to find out more information.  There is fishing and bird walks to participate in.  This year it was lovely weather with just a little bit of breeze.  But first we have to get there…..

Our volunteers get up early to get us ready – jesses on and put in our carriers.  Any last minute items are packed and also any babies that need cared for on a hourly basis – this year we have eight hummingbirds, a sparrow and three pigeons.


Once we arrive – the tables are prepared and we are put on our perches or held, depending on the bird and the volunteer.   Voldemort, the Turkey Vulture and Alice, the Coopers Hawk, were both very happy with our space.

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I cry out to the people walking by (literally – I haven’t learned to stop using my baby cry).  I was brought to the rescue as a juvenile Red Tailed Hawk with a broken wing.  The break was high up into my shoulder and had already started to set.  It couldn’t be fixed, so I am one of the lucky Education birds.


As part of this event, volunteers also help children make birdy bagels.  While most of us birds of prey are not interesting in this seed stuff, we know the songbirds and pigeons/doves love it.

Don’t forget to see other great pictures from the event here at AZCentral.

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What made this event different was that people brought us several birds to rehab at the event.  Saturday we received a dove, two hummingbirds and a call to get a harris hawk.   The hawk had been in a person’s yard for two days.  When he was picked up by volunteers, the main injury was to the right eye.  Treatment began immediately and so far the hawk is doing well.

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Sunday, we were back out at Tres Rios.  This time we were brought a pigeon.  But when we got home, that’ when things really got strange.  A Pelican had been dropped off.  White pelicans are not all that unusual in Arizona, but Brown Pelicans are less common.  It had stepped on a cholla cactus.  It took about 45 minutes to get all the thorns out of the feet and mouth.

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This is not Fallen Feather’s first Pelican.  The timing of it’s arrival was interesting.  Jody and her volunteers will take care of the injured, the orphaned, the hungry and us, the residents.  Here’s to speedy recovery to my fellow feathered friends.  I cry for you.

Red, The Red Tailed Hawk

P.S. Nigel, the Pelican has asked for lots of fish.  It’s not the normal diet kept here, so if you know of any fishermen with some, it would be greatly appreciated.

Road Trip

I’m Alice, a Cooper’s Hawk.  I’ve lived at Fallen Feathers for a while.  I’m still being trained to attend our events.  It takes a lot of work to go to events and I’m a very anxious breed of bird.  Our Executive Directors and volunteers are very patient with me.   Let me tell you a little about what they do to support us every day and thru these events.

About a week ago, we attended Parada Del Sol parade.  It was the first time we have been there and it was quite the honor.  The event itself started at 10am, but we had to be there to set up at 7am.  That means that the people wake up at 4am to feed us and start getting us birds ready (jessed and crated).


We were on the road a little after 6.  We checked into the event and everyone started unloaded the trailer.  We birds waited patiently (except Raven, she hops around).


Once the canopies and tables are all up, the perches are set up and we come out.  People start coming by almost instantly with questions.   Some of our events we have a kid section too with some sort of craft.


Our volunteers spend the entire event educating people about us (birds) and about the rescue/rehab we live in.  At this event, I got a new perch.  It was very nice and I felt very comfortable.  The other perches we had were fine, and the other birds didn’t seem to mind them, but I am particular.

Here I am, along with Jack, the Harris Hawk and Digger, the Burrowing Owl.    Flat Stanley visited us on Valentine’s Day, shown here with a volunteer and Raven.  Finally, there is Robert, the Great Horned Owl.




Our entire education bird family is not shown here, but we were all at the event.   The Parade portion of Parada Del Sol finished at 4pm.   People continued to visit while everything was being put on the trailer.  This is common for us.  It’s nice to be seen and cared about by the public and our volunteers are always happy to answer questions.  You’ll just have to come see us in person to truly appreciate everything that is done.

We got home about 7:30pm, put in our aviaries to have our dinner.  It was a good day and now we get to rest.

We will be back with Parada Del Sol this weekend for the main events on Feb 28th and at Tres Rios Natural Festival next weekend (March 7 & 8).   Hope to see you there.

Alice, the Cooper’s Hawk

It’s a Wonderful Life.

It is truly Duck Season.  All the ducks are looking for mates; even me.  My life is different though.

My name is Ducky.  I was brought to Fallen Feathers after I was taken from my nest.  People thought that my parents abandoned me and then keep me for a few days because I was a cute little duckling.  They handled me and played with me and they imprinted me.  This means that I no longer associate with my fellow ducks/ducklings.  I have lost my fear of humans and I know to rely on them for food rather than providing for myself.

Every year Fallen Feathers get lots of ducks that have legitimately lost their parents.  The other big problem that the people at Fallen Feathers see is people buying ducklings (especially for Easter) and then wanting the babies released back to the wild or just because they change their mind.  This isn’t practical and it’s not fair to us ducks (ducklings).


DO NOT BUY A DUCK unless you have plenty of land (and a pond would be nice) and a place to keep your ducks safe.
Ducks cannot be Potty Trained.  I also don’t like diapers and I’m very clever about getting them off.
DO NOT BUY A DUCK unless you know what it’s like to own ducks or are ready for a full 15-20 year commitment.   Ducks live longer than your average pet, if kept safe and healthy.

If you still want a duck, call Fallen Feathers.  We may be able to help.

I know all this because I have lived it.  The people at Fallen Feathers tried to integrate me with other ducks (both my size and smaller) but I didn’t get along with them.  I didn’t understand the other ducks.  The ducklings my size picked on me.  When I was put in with the smaller ducklings, I was scared and stayed in the corner.  It didn’t take long before the volunteers figured out that I was imprinted.

Jody then had to figure out what to do with me.  I am not a migratory bird.  In fact, I can’t even really fly.  I am a Rouen.  I am the breed that is typically eaten for food.  I needed a home as park life was not going to be for me.  One family that volunteers at Fallen Feathers offered to take me.  They have become my flock.


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Ducky 3rd Day home. At least double her size.




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One Year Later Ducky still loves sitting on Dad’s shoulder.

The family that adopted me are very good to me.  Ducks stay awake nearly 20 hours a day so I have to entertain myself sometimes.  We have a daily routine.  We play nightly.  I take baths regularly (I prefer warm water).  I love to eat with the family, except bread.  I don’t like bread and it’s actually not good for ducks.  I really like vegetables – nearly anything green, but my absolute favorite is peas.

When the weather is nice, we go for walks.  It stops the traffic in the neighborhood.  I help with homework, cooking, sweeping the floors, taking care of the other pets food, and I make my own messes.

Obviously, my life is not like the other ducks.  My family sacrifices a lot to have me as part of their life.   If you aren’t ready to do the same, resist the urge to buy a Duckling in the next few months.

Ducky, the Rouen

P.S.  I still love to sit on shoulders.


Ducky loves the computer.

Not Your Average Target Trip

It all started near the Agua Fria riverbed and Happy Valley, behind the Target plaza.

I live in the area.  The expanse of hunting ground is good (screenprint from Google Maps).



Caught on Barbed Wire

I’m a prairie falcon.  I am lighter colored than the peregrine falcon.  I cruise at about 45 mph, at a little over 3 feet off the ground when I’m hunting.  I fly faster when I have found my prey.

Today I was on the hunt and ran into some barbed wire.  Not good news.

I am lucky.  A lady walking her dog found me and called Fallen Feathers.  Jody, their founder came to get me; it helps that she lives only minutes away.  That was also fortunate for me as I was in serious need of medical treatment.   The barbed wire cut me deeply on my leg and stomach.  I have been at Fallen Feathers for two nights resting and healing.  They put this annoying necklace on me so I can’t pick at my stitches.   I don’t know how long I am going to be here, but I do know that next time, I’m shopping somewhere else for my food.

Duke, the prairie falcon

Update:  Unfortunately Duke did not survive the severity of his injuries.

Prairie Falcon
Prairie Falcon


Fixing our Nest

The beginning of the New Year means it’s almost baby bird season again.  They have been fortunate the past few months to have the time to “get their ducks in a row”.  If you have never been to Fallen Feathers before, the whole organization is operated out of a home.  It is generous and loving and we birds appreciate it greatly.

Volunteers have been helpful with removing old broken equipment, building new aviaries and resealing existing aviaries.

While one of the goals of Fallen Feathers is to have a free standing facility in the northwest valley, there is still room to grow until that happens.  Help is needed establishing watering throughout the aviaries and additional landscaping would be nice so that we birds have plenty of shade in any new aviaries.

A very generous donation of various bird items and statues was granted in late November.  Everyone has been decorating the grounds celebrating the very creatures they are trying to help.

Today, another much needed donation arrived.  A new trailer for hauling perches, displays and documents for the various public events that Fallen Feathers attends.
The holidays were good to Fallen Feathers, but they work hard and it is well deserved.  They help over a thousand birds a year solely on donations and volunteers and it still isn’t enough to cover the need.
For now the gifts and the break are being enjoyed.   Next month the babies will start coming in and everyone will be very busy for at least 6 months.  As for me, time to find a place to cozy down and keep warm.
Lovey and Thurston,
the neighborhood mourning doves