Most visitors to the shelter are greeted with a sweet greeting from Buddy, our umbrella cockatoo. His first greeting is a sweet one, and the other ones become even firmer. When he says, “hello,” he expects a response. Actually, he sometimes expects many responses! He was formerly known as Number 176 and has been with us for 12 years.
In February of 2007, we heard of the closure of a large bird breeding facility in Greensboro. About 600 birds were going to be auctioned off. The advertisement of the closing and auction offended many people by calling the birds “proven factory money-makers.” However, when the inventory list was published on the auction house website, people became even more irate. Listed among the breeder birds were a blind African Grey, various feather-picked birds, and old, feather-picked macaws and cockatoos.
The word spread among bird lovers throughout the country and bird groups began organizing to bid on the birds during the auction to remove as many as possible from the breeding market. Sanctuaries joined in the effort. As people heard that the Danville Area Humane Society was involved, we began receiving donations to help us bid on birds, especially the more pitiful ones. Some people were critical of any attempts to purchase these birds, claiming that it would have no long-term effect and that any bidding on the birds would perpetuate the breeding of them.
All of the controversy resulted in the auction being changed from on-site to an on-line one. We registered and received our bidding number. We pored over the list of the birds and decided which ones we would try to get.
We called the people who owned the facility and gained their trust because we had stayed out of the controversy. We were asked to visit them and they allowed us to take some of the birds in the worst shape.
The day of the auction was excruciating. We went by our list and were able to win most of the ones we were interested in. On the list was a single Umbrella cockatoo that looked healthy. He was not on our list. I just could not get him off of my mind. The board president and shelter manager had been by my side for hours as we bid on the birds, but they had to leave for a few minutes. During that time, the cockatoo number 176 came up. In a weak moment, I bid on him. The other cockatoos had gone for very high prices, but I bid $400 on him and we won him.
We did not return from picking up and paying for the birds in Greensboro until midnight. It had been a heart-wrenching day, as we knew that many of these birds were going to live lives only as proven money-makers.
Number 176 became a favorite of the shelter staff. They started calling him Buddy. He was accepted into a sanctuary in Indiana, along with a couple of other cockatoos. The morning the volunteers came to transport him, the staff members cried, and so did Buddy. We decided he would stay with us. We bought him a huge cage and told him his troubles were truly over.
Buddy, through the years, has fallen in love with April, the shelter manager. He calls her name incessantly. “April, April, April, April,” has become his call. He is so attached to her that when she was going to be on vacation for a week, I took a picture of her, printed it, and taped it to his cage. He stayed by the picture all week.
Buddy stays on top of his cage most of the time, but he is allowed to wander around before the shelter opens. He parades up and down the hall and even likes to swing on the baby gate in the front office. A couple of years ago, we bought a stand for the front office; however, it lasted a shorter amount of time than it took the company to ship it to us.
He somehow knows when Friday has arrived and if his favorite volunteer, Rachel, is late coming with his Friday afternoon treat, he lets us know how unhappy he is. His life is a full, happy one.
How we love our Buddy! We are still haunted by the memories of the breeding facility, but remain very grateful we were able to help so many, including Number 176. Please help us celebrate his life and the lessons he has taught about how wonderful birds are.