CARNATION, Wash. - Every day, Bob Dawson is greeted with a chorus of hello's, hi's and "Hey Bobs." The voices get much louder when he loads up trays full of bananas, other fruits and vegetables and gives them to his hungry friends. This is the life of Bob Dawson, the bird rescuer of Carnation.
"I love it. It's a lot of hard work but I love it," said Dawson as he showed some of the 400 colorful birds he tends to every day.
Dawson's Macaw Rescue & Sanctuary is one of a few large rescue groups dedicated to providing homes for unwanted pet birds.
Many of the birds were just too much to handle for people who loved the idea of owning a big parrot but didn't consider all the work and noise involved. Some of his refugees are problem birds that bit and scratched their owners. Bob's hands are covered in wounds from angry and frightened birds.
Some of the birds' beaks are so powerful they can easily crack open Brazil nuts that people need pliers or hammers to open. The birds can be dangerous to people and each other so Dawson spends much of his time trying to find the right social mix in his 15 large bird flights scattered about his property.
Docile, friendly birds end up sharing a flight. Bully birds are grouped together in outdoor flights where Dawson said they soon learn to get along. He said some arrive with large bald patches caused by nervousness and fear. He said in time they calm down and their colorful feathers return.
Dawson emphasized that he does not run an adoption center. His birds will spend the rest of their lives in large chain link flights where they can spread their wings and hang out on logs and branches. As he walked through an aisle between flights he was showered by greetings. He told us he does not treat these birds as pets, but lets them do what they do best ... just be birds.
Dawson and the operators of two other sanctuaries are holding a benefit BBQ and auction next month to help offset the thousands of dollars in month feed bills. Details can be found on Dawson's website www.macawrescueandsanctuary.org