Feathered friends find a new family
By Autumn Bernhard —
Cockatoos, ducks and chickens, oh my.
While some people might think that is a lot to handle, Stacey York calls it Monday.
York runs an exotic bird haven located outside the Fredericksburg city limits.
“Currently, we have 26 exotic birds,” York said. “We have everything from cockatoos to diamond doves.”
The bird haven is family-run by York, her daughter and her husband.
“We take in birds that have been neglected, abused, or people just do not want them anymore,” York said. “Due to their past, all the birds are a little neurotic and have certain ticks about them. Also, all the birds are very protective of themselves to try to prevent any further abuse.”
People are welcome to go out to the haven but must first make an appointment with York. Those interested are asked to stop by Blumenhandler Flower Shop, 209 East San Antonio Street, where she works Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and every other Saturday.
“I have been around birds my whole life,” York said. “My grandmother had birds so I grew up with them always around. I have also volunteered at bird sanctuaries of all kinds around the United States.”
York is married to a retired Marine so she did a lot of traveling. Before moving to Fredericksburg, they lived in San Diego, California, where she acquired many of the birds she has now.
“When I was in San Diego, I was working at a sanctuary and received all the hard cases,” York said. “That was when I really started collecting different birds.”
Before that, they lived in Rochester, New York, where York received her first bird in the haven, a cockatiel named “Sunny.”
The birds have their own enclosure in the backyard, complete with air conditioning, heating and lights on a timer. They even have their own radio that plays during the day.
“We usually go through the radio stations and let the birds pick which one to leave it on,” York said. “If they like the genre, they will start dancing in their cages; however, if they do not like it they will start squawking loudly. You can say they are a little spoiled.”
Each bird has its own personality, attitude and pet peeves.
“The birds really are like children,” York said. “They all have their favorite food and music, they make friends with one another and they talk to each other and practically anyone else who will listen.
“The birds even play jokes on me,” she said. “When I was living in San Diego one of the birds learned to open his cage and then would go to the bathroom on the floor. Right after he was done, he would fly back to his cage and lock it. When I would come downstairs all the birds would be dead quiet and then start laughing at me. I finally had to put a video camera up to figure out how it was being done.”
Collecting the birds
Many people call York and ask her to take a bird from them because they do not want them anymore. She has also received many birds from shelters where the birds have been neglected or treated unfairly.
“For the most part, when I have to go somewhere to pick up a bird, I am the one that gets bit because no one else is willing to do it,” she said. “I am used to getting bit, though. One time when I was working in San Diego, an African Grey bit my hand and crushed a few bones. Also, when I was kissing a little Senegal Parrot when we first got her, she bit my bottom lip and tore about half of it off.
“You can tell what kind of past the birds have had with how they interact with different types of people,” she said. “Some prefer males, others prefer females; it all depends what type of abuse they suffered.”
Since being in Fredericksburg, York has received two new birds.
“People usually just come by the flower shop and drop a bird off and then leave,” she said. “I have had quite a lot of people bring me little baby birds that they have found. I feed them and then when they are big enough, I release them back outside.”
“As far as the exotic birds go, we are their final owner,” she said. “We do not breed them or sell them to anyone else.”
York’s other jobs
As of now, the haven is a nonprofit organization so they do not take donations.
To accommodate the costs of the birds, York has her own jewelry line called “Wild Creations” that she designs and makes herself.
“I sell my jewelry at Blumenhandler,” she said. “All the money made benefits the birds in some way.”
York not only sells her jewelry there but also works there as a designer, wedding consultant/coordinator and website manager.
At home, York also houses chickens, ducks and rabbits that she shows at the Gillespie County Fair.