Origins – Palomita & Safe Haven Parrot Refuge
Here at Flock we’re really proud of our high quality pieces and the materials we use to create them. Through our Origins series we’ll be taking you behind the scenes to discover the story behind our favourite Flock handmade & vintage wares. This time its Francesca of Palomita Jewellery’s turn:
I want to tell you about the amazing place that I source the feathers from for many pieces of my jewellery: the Safe Haven Parrot Refuge.
I love working with Safe Haven’s parrot feathers. Not only is it an amazing material to produce tropical, colourful, and amazonian jewellery with, which is exactly what my label is about, but it gives me a warm fuzzy feeling that the money that I have spent on them is going to go towards ensuring a lifelong harmony for these complex birds, not many generations removed from the wild.
We asked Paul Forman from Safe Haven to tell us more about the refuge, its residents and how we can all help to support their great work:
Safehaven Parrot Refuge was started in 1986, as in those days there were very few parrot rescues and most people related parrots to a Monty Python joke. Christine had been working for a bird rescue since 1974 which finally closed, she had a wealth of knowledge of Finches to Fish Eagles and Hyacinth Macaws. I knew nothing about parrots and she told me the way they are mistreated and how very human they become.
A parrot if well treated can have a human life span, it can have illnesses the same as us such as cancer, self-mutilation, asthma, fits and stress, to name but a few. Because parrots live so long they usually have many owners, they are often bought because of their pretty colours but there is usually a lack of knowledge of how they should be cared for. When they start making a noise or biting because of their treatment, they are sold and the change of home is particularly stressful to them.
There have been some pitiful cases come to us, Henry an old Greenwing Macaw was rescued from being kept outside a pet shop by a lady. When she could no longer look after him, she gave him to her daughter who didn’t really want him. He couldn’t fly and was kept on a rusty metal stand outside and the daughter’s children used the stand as a goal post when they played football, often knocking him off. He suffered cigarette burns all over his face and body, being unable to shut one of his eyes to sleep. For years he live like this until he was ‘rescued’, he still lived on his rusty stand out in a back garden before he came to us. His last few years with us were the happiest of his life, he used to sing, was very gentle and appreciated all that was done for him.
Jack is a Blue & Gold Macaw, he is now about 85 years old being imported in the 1930’s Before he came to us was kept in an outside aviary. He lived with his mate Jill and they had a chick that lived for ten years, then Jill died and Jack was so distressed that he bit both of his feet off. His owner did nothing, just leaving him in the aviary, where he stayed until his owner died. Then the family wanted to get rid of Jack as quickly as they could. When he came to us he only had one eye, he had to walk on his stumps and one of his wings had been pinioned (chopped off at a joint halfway down the wing). He now lives with us on top of a specially adapted cage on a six inch wide perch and his eyesight has become very poor. He has adapted very well and enjoys living inside in the warm.
There have been many more cases of neglect and cruelty which often makes us wonder what type of people we are sharing the planet with. SPR no longer takes in parrots here but has members working as volunteers for the Charity around the country who home check and find new homes for the parrots who come to us. At the Refuge we live very closely with twenty two large Macaws, two Dwarf Macaws, two Alexandrines and an African Grey. They are fed, watered and cleaned out twice a day and everything they eat is closely inspected. This takes us from 7.30 am to 8.00 pm with a two and a half hour break in the afternoon, seven days a week, every day of the year, after 8.00 the admin has to be done.
Parrots shed their feathers to allow for a new growth. Each feather is beautiful but they have a habit of mutilating the large feathers that come out. Some of the small feathers that come from Scarlet Macaws have so many colours in them that they are more beautiful than any gem.
I think we have been supplying Palomita with feathers for about three years.
People can help Safehaven by joining the Charity this is £15 per year. Members are then eligible to rehome a parrot or if they are really enthusiastic, become Area Co-ordinators. There is a Facebook Group, ‘Safehaven Parrot Refuge UK’, that anyone can apply to join, where people show photos or videos of their parrots, ask for advice and talk generally about them. We have a website: http://www.safehavenparrotrefuge.co.uk
If you wish to get in touch, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks Paul! Haven’t seen many of Palomita’s feather pieces? Here’s a few of our favourites:
Do you love handmade items made from sustainably sourced, organic materials? If you have any questions for Francesca leave a comment below or give @palomita_jewellery a cheeky follow on Instagram