Flying Over The Rainbow - - - by Liz Davies (aka "Mom")

 

This just isn't what Stephen and I had planned when we married in 2004.  We thought we'd be here in the US at least until I could retire.  You see... I really loved the company I was working for and could not fathom leaving.  But things there changed for the worse and I finally gave up, resigning my position in March 2006.

If you do much "self-help" reading (as I do) you will have run across this question:

"If you could live anywhere, do anything, if money were no obstacle...where would you be and what would you be doing?"

I used to hate questions like that because they lead to ridiculous "what-you-can-never-have" answers.  But just this once, I could imagine a future for myself that was possible and attractive to both me and Stephen.  We decided to move to Australia.

Doing that requires a lot of planning, money, and (for me, at least) more than a little courage.  But I know that sometimes good things that God has planned for me require some effort on my part.  So we downloaded Australian spouse-visa forms, looked into the immigration laws and started thinking about what we should take with us or leave behind.

What about our birds?

Australian customs and import laws are very strict.  The Australian people truly treasure their native wildlife and environment, and their laws reflect their concerns.  Too many non-native species are already in Australia, creating havoc and in many cases crowding out the precious native species.  Still, I hoped there would be a chance that we could bring our avian family with us, and as soon as I was sure we were moving, I started looking into what would be required.

So here is what happened:

March 21
2006
Did a "Google" on the topics "international pet bird import Australia" and found an interesting page which talks about getting import permits for pet birds.  I also posted a couple of "requests for experience and information" on 2 parrot-centered message boards that I frequent. 

Found 2 "we'll move your pet" businesses on the web, and got a 3rd recommended by a friend.  Sent emails to all 3 requesting information.

March 27
2006
We've heard back from the 3 pet movers:
  • One sent a quote
  • One sent an email saying you can't import birds to Australia
  • One sent a general contact email asking us a few questions about where we are in the process of moving (I replied to them but haven't heard back from that reply yet). 

I also talked to the man who owns the aviary where we got Jesse, and he indicated that he's pretty sure moving her to Australia is possible.  We're still hopeful, but the $$ in the quote we received make us think we won't be able to afford taking the whole flock with us, even if we can get their import approved.

March 29
2006
Heard back from the 3rd moving company.  The representative assured me that they have moved parrots  (legally) to Australia sometime in the last 3 years, but suggested I should call AQIS to see if anything has changed due to the current "bird flu" scare.
March 30
2006
After tons of emails and a couple of long-distance phone calls, we have our answer:

We found that the AU body "AQIS" administers the import/export regulations and "Biosecurity Australia" apparently sets the regulations. The Biosecurity folks told me that they are "reviewing" the import of pet birds, but currently aren't allowing it. Apparently the review has been underway for quite a while (years?). They did offer to have us register with them as "stakeholders" - which means we'll be given updates if and when they occur. We did that, of course, but we realize that the situation is probably hopeless.

So what will we do? Honestly, I don't know. I don't like our choices: give up the idea of moving - or give up our pets.

I guess I'll just pray for a miracle.
June
2006
We continue to monitor the happenings with AQIS and the Biosecurity group, but it's pretty clear that there's no hope.
September
2006
My "spouse visa" arrived from the Australian government.  We put the house up for sale and started seriously talking to people about adopting the birds.  A good friend of mine took Bubba and Aussie to live with her.  It was terribly hard to see them go, but I am comforted by the fact that they clearly like her and she's wild about them.  I know it's a good match for everyone.

I found someone interested in Pakshi who would be perfect for him (and Pakshi clearly liked) but that fell through when we realized that the man's wife is violently allergic to birds.

Having exhausted all the possibilities with people I already know, I realized I'd have to advertise - so I contacted our local bird club and put an online classified ad up on a popular website.  I have been surprised at the number of people who are contacting me expressing interest.

October
2006
At this point we had plane tickets for the move to Australia.  The clock was ticking and I was becoming anxious about finding a suitable home for the remaining birds.  I had quite a few inquiries, but turned down every one of them because the people who were contacting me were clearly not suitable.  

Then Forte found a home with a nice woman who had not had a bird before, but clearly was nuts about Forte.  She showed interest in learning and spent some time showing me that she'd take care of her.  

Frank and Theresa, members of the bird club, adopted Pakshi.  Seeing Pakshi go with them was the hardest adoption for me.  I loved all our birds, but Pakshi was special because he actually chose me as opposed to me choosing him.  When they came to get him, Frank and Theresa fell in love with Jesse as well, and they adopted her, too.  

November
2006
On the 10th, we boarded our plane in Columbus, Ohio and bid a final farewell to the place and people we love and knew so well.  We arrived in Australia on the 12th and began our new life.
November
2007
Frank and Theresa have become friends as a result of the adoption, and we hear from them regularly.  Pakshi and Jesse are in a loving home with people who treasure them as we did.

Bubba and Aussie's new mom keeps me up on their antics as well.  They have brightened her life and she's proven to be an excellent "parront".

Sadly, Forte's new human did not keep in touch with us, so I can only hope that she has done as well as our other parrot companions.

May
2008
Stephen and I went back to the US for a short visit.  While there we were able to visit Bubba, Aussie, Pakshi, and Jesse in their new homes.  They are all doing great, and I put together a "reunion page" with photos.
September
2008
I'd been participating in an Australian-based bird forum for several months.  One of the members there (someone who was subsequently banned from the forum by the administrator) had been acquiring birds, keeping them a while, and then dumping them so he could turn around and get more, newer birds.  His attitude upset me a good deal, how could he be so callous?  But then I thought about what I had done... and was prompted to write this:
   
You never "get over" love
Thread Started on Sept 26, 2008, 8:09pm

It's been nearly 2 years now since I came to this country. Many of you know my story - and about the birds I left behind. Have to say that even after 2 years I still miss them. I guess I'll always miss them.

When hubby and I first decided to immigrate to Oz, we really thought we'd be able to bring the fids. But we were oh, so wrong...

We had to find homes for 2 canaries and 5 parrots (Catalina Macaw, Hahns Macaw, Sun Conure, Black Capped Conure, Cockatiel). You can ask my hubby - with each adoption I was a basket case. Cried until I thought I couldn't cry anymore. OH, God... and as hard as it was for me, I know it was harder for them. After all.. I understood what was happening - and I knew the homes they were going to (and that they'd be loved and treated well). The birds, however, had no idea what was going on - they had no choice, no option.

I will never forget the look that Jesse (Catalina Macaw) had on her face when her new family carried her out to their car. Oh, God, just about killed me. She was so frightened, so confused and hurt. Via circumstances which I won't go into here, I ended up being in the waiting area of the vet's office later that same day when her new owners took her to have her wings clipped (I'd kept all my birds full-flighted). I can still hear her anguished screams as the vet cut her feathers. I agreed with the new family's reasons for what they did... but it just killed me to be there in the next room knowing what she was going through and powerless to comfort her.

2 years have gone by and it still hurts. I still ache for each and every one of them, and it's hard to live with the fact that my decision to move here caused them all so much pain (certainly more than it caused me). I'm comforted because their new families have kept in contact and I get regular updates (and I was able to visit 4 of the 5 last May when I returned to Ohio for a visit). But I can never forget that these wonderful creatures went through a lot of pain because of me.

Please please remember that as much as you love your birds - they love YOU more. It's not fair. But it's true.

I am not writing this because I want absolution from members here - but because I want us all to remember that we must never take lightly the relationships we form with our avian companions. Never kid yourself that rehoming a bird is no big deal. It IS a big deal to the bird. They are not possessions... they are beings who love, hate, fear, and all the rest. If we cannot respect their feelings, we do not deserve to have them in our lives.