Welcome to Pandemonium Aviaries. Here, more than 350 birds spanning 40 species have found sanctuary under the care of Michele Raffin. Her passion for these exotic creatures--through rehabilitation of injured animals, breeding, and the return of as many as possible to their natural habitats--is doing the hard work of (hopefully) pulling many back from the edge of extinction.
The Birds of Pandemonium is the story of Raffin's extraordinary efforts, but she's far from the only star. We meet many of the birds themselves, and through their personalities (and you'd be hard-pressed not to consider them individuals after reading these pages), we come to understand the challenges they face and the importance of ensuring their continued existence and success.
Enjoy these images and short biographies of some of the book's more memorable characters.
Meet Some of the Birds of Pandemonium
Tico, Blue and gold macaw
Tico is extremely intelligent and can pick just about any lock. A trickster who loves to play practical jokes, he will mercilessly mimic other animals"”and then watch as I become totally confused and slapstick ensues. Tico used to enjoy dancing with me, his body hugged to my chest, his head resting under my chin, until he dumped me for Mylie, a gorgeous Catalina macaw.
Gwen & Lancelot, Green-naped pheasant pigeons
When Gwen died of a heart attack, her grieving mate, Lancelot, cried so mournfully that I began the search for a new mate for him. Today, almost 40 percent of green-naped pheasant pigeons (GNPPs) in the U.S. live at Pandemonium, the largest population in the country. GNPPs are threatened due to the destruction of their native New Guinean tropical rain forest and there are very few places that have been successful at breeding them. Pandemonium Aviaries is one of those places.
Coffee & Wing, Victoria crowned pigeons
Coffee really wants to be house pet and be hand-fed. His one-winged sister, Wing, is more wary. Pandemonium has the second largest population under conservation in the world of Victoria crowned pigeons and their close relatives, blue crowned pigeons. These are the largest pigeons in the world"”a distinction that used to be held by the dodo bird until its extinction in the 1600s. Unless measures are taken to preserve their natural habitat and protect these birds, crowned pigeons may head that way as well.
Oscar, Lady Gouldian finch
A cast-off given refuge at Pandemonium, Oscar was shy and couldn't fly. With some love and attention, he became a very social bird, interacting with the other finches as though he were "one of the boys." Unfortunately he could not reach the upper perches of his aviary. He solved this problem brilliantly"”by "teaching" me how to build a ladder that would allow him to climb up to sleep among his friends.
Amigo, Red-headed Amazon parrot
Amigo is a disgruntled, grumpy old bird who finds it hilarious to bite me, especially if someone is watching. Although partial to attractive young women, he did fall madly in love with an African gray parrot.
Mylie, Catalina macaw
Sweet but not so smart, Mylie only knows a few words, such as "kiss, kiss," which she says with an air kiss. When I'm away, he doesn't resent my absence as the other birds do. Beauty queen Mylie is too self-absorbed to even notice.
Amadeus, Lady Ross's turaco
Amadeus lost a leg when attacked by a predatory bird at his previous home but has the demeanor of James Bond: suave, confident, a real ladies' man. He is keenly interested in what's going on around him and has a remarkable connection with autistic boys.
Harli & Peeki, Rainbow lorikeets
Harli spoke with a strong New Jersey accent. Signature phrase: "Whacha doin', honey?" An adorable but sometimes dangerous bird who could exact painful bites, Harli found love with Peeki, a rescue from a bird mart. The two were inseparable for many years, until Harli died. After that Peeki began talking with Harli's Jersey accent.