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Avian rescue takes flight at TLC Bird Haven

Thu., April 15, 2010

A scarlett macaw who lives at TLC Bird Haven near Deer Park entertains a visitor. Courtesy of Pamela Smith (Courtesy of Pamela Smith)
A scarlett macaw who lives at TLC Bird Haven near Deer Park entertains a visitor. Courtesy of Pamela Smith (Courtesy of Pamela Smith)

New addition will allow nonprofit to expand its help of the abused, unwanted

Joanie Lamm is a woman with a passion and a vision to rescue often-misunderstood and abused parrots and allow them to become healthy, happy, and free-flying animals again.

As president of TLC Bird Haven, a nonprofit near Deer Park, Lamm is endeavoring to take her enthusiasm to new heights with a project to build a new 60-foot-by-60-foot facility, due to be completed this fall.

“You see dog and cat rescues everyday, but, it’s important that birds have something more than a box to stand in all day,” said Lamm. She goes out of her way to reach unwanted birds, sometimes referred by neighbors, friends or relatives of the owners. Elmo, an Alexandrine ringneck parrot, for instance, was found walking up a street, “or so the people said,” Lamm shrugged.

Currently, the rescue organization resides in a small building with two floors that can house about 50 parrots at a time. The downstairs room is comprised of large walk-in cages housing many different types of macaws and large cockatoos. Upstairs, two rooms are lined with smaller cages containing smaller parrots, special-needs birds and birds being boarded while owners are away.

The new facility will allow more room for the macaws to have free flight, said Lamm, who has included a 60-foot-by-30-foot aviary for them in the plans. There will also be more room for special-needs birds such as Tiki, a scarlett macaw with paralyzed legs who moves around on top of a wooden platform by hooking her beak onto the platform’s edges and pulling herself forward.

Along with the new sanctuary building, TLC is planning to open a welcome center that will have educational and conservation resources and a gift shop. Lamm wants to better educate people about exotic birds and how to take care of them. They are beautiful and intelligent but they require a lot of care and attention and can outlive their owners, said Lamm. “For every bird with a good home, there’s a thousand with a lousy home.”

Lamm’s enthusiasm for rescuing parrots started more than 25 years ago as a volunteer at a Las Vegas zoo. She heard of someone who needed a new home for a parrot and the rest is history.

In 1998, Lamm moved near Deer Park, and in 2001, she founded TLC. Recently, Lamm was planning on selling her property, where she and her husband ran a special events facility called the Mont Lamm Event Facility, and raised and trained Belgian draft horses. She closed the businesses after her husband died.

“I got rid of my tools and ladder, but then I realized; why sell when I have everything here? I could use what I have and build a new aviary,” she said. TLC Bird Haven is looking for donations and volunteers to help build the new aviary building and modify the current event facility into a welcome center. In addition to public donations, TLC has applied for several public and private grants. “Hopefully being around for so long and having been a successful business owner will give us some credibility,” said Lamm.

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