The idea was that about 15 of us would head up for the day and to go the Organic River Festival nearby. The festival didn't really appeal to us, and the $20 cover charge appealed even less, so we dropped our friends off and went for a drive before meeting later for a barbeque. (Levin is tiny; driving around it doesn't take long.)
We came across The Parrot Ranch. I have always loved birds and grew up in a family of bird-lovers. Parrots, in particular, have such distinctive personalities and I especially enjoy their playful intelligence. Although bookings are essential for tours around The Parrot Ranch, we took our chances and were lucky enough to find a tour leaving in five minutes. Great!
This place is fantastic. The owner is so clearly dedicated to his work and shared his passion for all the birds and animals in his care. This must be an incredibly demanding job; the hand-rearing process alone means that baby birds are hand-fed every two hours, moving onto every four hours once they are a few weeks old. There are numerous species of parrots and other birds in both inside and outside enclosures. He also has a native bird rescue programme, whereby injured birds are brought in for rehabilitation before being re-released into the wild.
Here are some highlights from our visit:
Jackie is a sulphur-crested cockatoo. He is about 24 years old and came straight over to the edge of his cage, putting his head down towards the bars. I knew what he wanted but wondered whether I'd get in trouble ... until he did it again and said "scratch". How could I resist an invitation like that? I was very tempted to take Jackie home ...
This male harrier hawk had been attacked by a farm dog and had no tail. He had been at the ranch for four months and will remain there until he moults out the remaining damaged tail feathers and grows a new tail, when he will be re-released into the wild. You can see his impressive wingspan. There was also a female harrier hawk who had flown into power lines.
You can see more photos from our visit to The Parrot Ranch on Flickr. They were taken on my phone (we hadn't planned to go, therefore didn't bring a camera!), so the quality varies.
I'm really glad we chose The Parrot Ranch as the venue for goal #77 - Visit an aviary. Well worth a visit (remember to book for a tour!) and somewhere I'm keen to go back to again.