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Vet tech students handle exotic birds at Siesta Sanctuary

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HARMONY — On Thursday, Nov. 29, 18 veterinarian technician seniors from the University of Maine-Augusta’s Bangor campus learned how to handle large, exotic birds at Siesta Sanctuary in preparation for their state exam. These students will be the first graduates of an accredited, four-year Baccalaureate degree vet tech program — one of two now in Maine.

Dr. Jennifer Freese, DVM, is the program coordinator, “We are fortunate to have discovered Siesta Sanctuary to fill this experience necessary for state licensing.”

Siesta Sanctuary Harmony

Contributed photo
FEATHERED PATIENTS — University of Maine-Augusta vet tech senior Katie Mitchell towels Grace, a 10-year-old Congo African Grey, during a recent learning opportunity at Siesta Sanctuary in Harmony. Eighteen veterinarian technician seniors from the University of Maine-Augusta’s Bangor campus learned how to handle large, exotic birds at Siesta Sanctuary in preparation for their state exam.

Four of the 80-plus parrots at the sanctuary became willing, docile patients as the students toweled (restrained) them and then did physical examinations. Fritz and Margaret Buschmann, owners of the non-profit, spoke of their more than 30 years of experience with parrot husbandry and first aid.

“We loved having the opportunity to learn from you!,” wrote Patricia “Patty” Glidden, LVT and program instructor, on Siesta’s Facebook page. “The students gained so much and it is so awesome to see them go from a bundle of nerves to having more confidence.”

Kelly Jordan was initially terrified of the birds. But Henrietta, an 11-year-old Umbrella Cockatoo, snuggled right up to Jordan easing all her fears. A much more relaxed Jordan then confidently toweled and examined her.

“Henrietta wins everyone over, especially the scared ones,” Margaret Buschmann noted. “She’s a great ambassador.” RiRi, a 38-year-old yellow nape Amazon and Tootie, an unknown age Goffin Cockatoo, also participated.

“I’m so happy to have this experience,” Carly McDorr said while toweling Grace, a 10-year-old Congo African Grey. “And that you were able to share your knowledge.”

Siesta Sanctuary is Central Maine’s only place to learn about parrots, how to care for them as pets, and what threatens the survival of wild parrots.

Fritz and Margaret Buschmann founded this non-profit Siesta Sanctuary to create a permanent home for displaced parrots. Parrots live from 60 to 80 years and many have had multiple owners, some not so good, when they arrive. The sanctuary does not re-home them but can refer to organizations that do.

At the sanctuary, the parrots live in a flock, can fly and learn to behave like birds. Many birds that come here have lived alone; nearly all have found a mate or best friend.

“The birds are fortunate to be here,” said Tanna Hill. “I’m glad this exists!”

Siesta Sanctuary welcomes visitors by appointment and at the next open house from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 29 — there will be no snow date. Leave winter outside and enter a tropical paradise.

While the open house is free, donations of time, equipment ,and/or money are always appreciated. It costs $16,000 annually (roughly $45 per day) to house and feed the flock. Any donation, large or small, helps immensely.

Siesta Sanctuary is 100 percent dependent on donations and does not receive any government funding. All money donated goes to the sanctuary’s upkeep, and food and medical expenses for the birds. Donations are tax deductible and receipts given for in-kind donations of cages, food, or equipment.

Siesta Sanctuary is at 104 Brown Road in Harmony. For more information, please call 683-6322 or visit Siesta Sanctuary.org and on Facebook.

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