- Associated Press - Sunday, October 30, 2016

MUSCATINE, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Parrot Rescue is looking forward to some changes made possible by a $50,000 grant, which will increase the functionality of the building where 63 birds currently reside.

The Muscatine Journal (https://bit.ly/2esHvDj ) reports that the DJ & T Foundation awarded the grant to the parrot rescue. The foundation was established by TV celebrity Bob Barker, and provides assistance to animal welfare organizations.

Mike Hutchison, the owner of Iowa Parrot Rescue located at 2479 Golden Ave., began the rescue 19 years ago, and built the current building in 2008. A large part of the grant funding, Hutchison said, will go to putting solar cells on the roof of the rescue to generate electricity.

Hutchison said the building is already very energy efficient, with three sides surrounded by earth, and one side with enough windows to absorb heat from the sun in the winter.

“When we designed this building we wanted to go as green as we could,” he said.

He had solar power in mind, even when he built the building.

“The solar has always been something that I wanted, when I designed this building, I designed the slope of the roof so that it would be efficient for solar if we could ever afford to put it in there,” Hutchison said.

Hutchison said the solar power will cut down on, and possibly eliminate one of the facility’s largest bills, electricity, as well as increasing how environmentally friendly the facility is.

“Protecting the environment in general protects the birds,” he said.

The flight area is a utility-welded wire fence-enclosed area connected to the building for the birds to spend time outside, and will also be getting some work. The top of the flight area will need to be re-covered.

“An effect of Iowa weather,” Hutchison said.

On one side of the large room where many birds are free from their cages, spending time with each other or calling to Hutchison to express their hunger, is a small room where many new birds spend their time before being integrated into the main room, which will also receive renovations.

Currently, a Red-lored Amazon named Higgins is spending time in the quarantine room, because he has spent around 20 years without being around other parrots. The room will allow him to become used to being near them and their chatter.

Hutchison said the quarantine room can be used for a transitional space, to house a bird or group of birds that may not be healthy, or to provide a safe space for a bird that needs to be treated.

“There are many times that I wouldn’t be able to take a bird if I didn’t have the quarantine area,” he said.

The back wall of the quarantine room will be covered, the medical room will be updated, and some cages throughout the building will be replaced, Hutchison said.

Because the shelter is funded through donations and grants, and volunteers help care for the birds, donations and grants are necessary to keep the rescue up and running.

“This could not happen without all the support we get,” he said.

Air conditioning will also be added, which Hutchison said is not necessarily needed for the birds, but the volunteers will have much less difficulty working in the warm building during the summer.

The $50,000 grant, Hutchison said, will make a difference for the facility, and allow him to care for the birds in a building with much needed updates.

“It means that a lot of things that I’ve either been doing without, like the air conditioning, or doing on a shoestring, like shelves made out of scrap lumber, can get done right,” Hutchison said.

Hutchison has taken in birds from drug raids, birds who have been smuggled, one who was a victim of Hurricane Katrina, birds who have been loved by families who can no longer keep them, and many more who were in need of a safe place to land. No drop-off or adoption fees are charged.

Adopting a parrot is a long-term commitment, as one bird at the shelter currently is documented to be more than 60 years old. While Hutchison said he hopes to find the birds homes, the care and attention they require cannot be taken lightly.

To volunteer, donate or for more information, visit www.iowaparrotrescue.org. With projects ahead, Hutchison said helpful hands will be welcome.

“I can always use more people,” he said.

___

Information from: Muscatine Journal, https://www.muscatinejournal.com

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