Smile Politely

Tropical bird rescuers visit Champaign Public Library

I went to the Champaign Public Library last Saturday to check out the Wings of Wonder avian rescue group. In the front of the room stood 8 or 10 people dressed in purple shirts, standing on tarp, holding exotic looking birds. The crew was different then you might expect though. The typical employ age ranges from 6 or 7 years old to some old enough to qualify for medicare. Although, I gather the young ones were volunteers by the way the head keeper referred to them as her grandchildren. All of her grandchildren, she said, are around birds from a very early age—pointing out that birds are a very safe pet for even very young children. She went on to boast that one of the Macaws even once perched on the arm of a newborn.

Anyways, the staff and birds were very colorful. The head keeper, Becky Hungerford, went on to introduce each bird giving the growing audience an idea of each bird’s history and habits.

Some birds had been abused so badly that they couldn’t walk straight or were missing feathers that would never grow back. However, she went on to explain, most birds can recover and have a happy life. 

That’s where you come in. These birds are available for adoption. But you can’t just have any bird you want, the bird chooses you. Becky said that after a bird chooses you, you probably won’t go home with it that day. Nope. Becky wants you coming back another time just to make sure. If the feeling between bird, potential owner, and keeper is still not right after a second visit, you may have to come back again. Becky and her staff care a lot about the birds and want them going to a safe, loving home.

The offer was tempting after watching the birds interact with the keepers. Some of them talked saying “bye bye, bye bye” while others hugged, danced, and performed acrobatics. After introductions, histories, and a bit of a show the staff invited everyone to line up to hold a bird. I watched as birds climbed, one foot at a time, onto little skinny kid arms while parents snapped iPhone pictures of some kids looking incredibly scared and others looking pumped.


I asked to hold the Macaw and he latched right on to my big man arm with authority. His feet were actually warm and soft.

Overall the experience was really cool and I am definitely considering taking a trip out to see the birds at the Wings of Wonder Avian rescue in Mahomet. See more photos in the gallery below. 

[gallery tropical_birds_at_champaign_public_library]

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