When LifeLine’s DeKalb County Animal Services (DCAS) shelter received 304 birds from a hoarding case recently, we knew we needed a special person to manage the birds’ recovery and ongoing care while the court case was pending.
This person had to be an expert in bird care and rehabilitation, have experience managing volunteers, and able to put their current life on hold while they cared for the birds. We found this person in Wendy Wass who was initially brought in by DeKalb County Animal Services Enforcement for a week to care for the birds. LifeLine asked her to stay on as a contractor, and thankfully, she agreed to do so.
Founder and CEO of Ziggy’s Haven, a bird sanctuary located in North Florida, Wendy Wass has over 18 years’ experience in bird confiscations, rescue and rehabilitation.
She says she has seen a lot of birds over the years, but has never seen such a wide-variety of exotic birds until this hoarding case. According to Wendy, among the 304 birds in LifeLine’s care, there are 27 different species and almost as many sub species.
What is it like taking care of 304 exotic birds? Wendy’s day often looks like this:
Wendy is usually greeted by a chorus of “Good Morning” from the chattier birds as she gets up and moving.
At 8:00 a.m. a group of volunteers arrive to help Wendy care for the birds for the next eight hours. The first task of the day is attending to the birds who require medical attention.
After medicating and examining the birds, Wendy and her crew feed and water all of the birds and clean out about 125 cages. The birds eat up to 152 cups of food per day plus a weight booster formula. That's up to 1064 cups of food per week!
Mid Afternoon and Evening
During the afternoon, and often to the tune of whatever songs some of the birds may be singing that day (sometimes they sing rock songs, and other times opera!), Wendy and volunteers cut up and serve fruit and vegetables to the birds to try to promote weight gain. Wendy says that so many of the birds came in severely underweight, that it’s crucial they get plenty of nutritious fresh food in addition to their daily pellets.
And since 304 birds can chew through a lot of toys in one day, the group also spends the afternoon changing out toys in 125 cages.
Socialization is a very important part of the birds’ recovery, so Wendy and her group also socialize the birds throughout the day to keep them stimulated and determine their temperaments.
And somehow on any given day, they also find time to wash between 600 and 1200 food and water bowls, depending on whether they wash them once or twice a day.
By the time all of the above is done, it is well into the evening, and Wendy and any volunteers who may be on hand for a later shift, are still cleaning out dirty water bowls and cages, giving the birds medicine, socializing with them or giving them extra treats.
Caring for 304 exotic birds is a time consuming job that not many people are cut out for, but luckily for the birds, it comes naturally to Wendy.
Wendy says that the best thing about working with the birds is watching them come out of their shells a little more every day. “It’s fulfilling to watch them become social and develop more vibrant, healthy colors,” she says. “They are happy now and say hello whenever anyone arrives, love to listen to music, and dance to the songs they like. Bath time is also big fun, and the birds love to be misted!”
Wendy says that they are still in need of medium to large natural bird pellets, Lory pellets and monetary donations to LifeLine for the bird’s continued care, including extensive veterinary expenses. If you would like to donate food or supplies please visit LifeLine’s DCAS wishlist. To make a monetary donation, please click here.
Thank you Wendy for your love, passion and dedication to these magnificent birds!