Birds of Paradise Sanctuary


Pretty Blues. There are some other animals that are found roaming around the Birds of Paradise property. “The male peacocks peck at my car all the time because it is prettier than them,” said volunteer Katja Hennessey.

Kyrsten White, Staff Reporter

  When thinking of places to volunteer, a bird sanctuary is not usually the first thing that comes to a student’s mind.

Birds of Paradise Sanctuary & Rescue is where many birds have found refuge. Owner Debbie Huckaby does everything she can to make these birds feel comfortable after all they have gone through. 

“When I first moved here, I started working at some other organizations, and I realized that not every parrot belongs in a home or a sanctuary-type setting. The idea was to combine both and allow every bird an opportunity to be in its correct environment…I let the bird decide, meaning that every bird is evaluated individually to determine if they are adoptable or they belong in a sanctuary,” said Huckaby.

This non-profit organization has gone through many troubles and triumphs. The biggest problem is collecting the money they need to provide the birds with everything they need. Sometimes they can get grants or donations, but that still does not cover all the costs. In addition, they do not get as much money from the state as people may think, even though they are a sanctuary. Generally, the state of Florida provides money to cat and dog sanctuaries, but not bird sanctuaries or any other sanctuary that is meant for animals that are usually “wildlife.” 

Birds of Paradise also needs toys for their birds. Birds constantly need stimulation for their brains, in the same way, that people do. When birds do not have something to chew on, they start to destroy things they usually would not. This can also help prevent them from biting themselves, which puts them in harm’s way. The volunteers typically make toys, but with about 15 to 20 volunteers overall, there are not many people to help make the toys unless they are made in free time. 

There are many ways that others outside of the sanctuary can assist. For example, something they need that can be donated is white wood, rather than pressure-treated wood, to make toys. Another way to help out is when purchasing something on Amazon; there is an option to donate to your favorite organizations. It only sends a small amount to the establishment, but a little bit can go a long way. In addition to this, they are in a low supply of washers, dryers, refrigerators, heat lamps and heat lamp bulbs.

One last thing that the sanctuary needs are more volunteers. They do not have many people who come out to help, so more people who sign up would help them out. With more people stepping up, the task of feeding the birds will become easier. If you are thinking of volunteering, the hours spent there can also count for some of your community service.

“The biggest reward that I get from this is that you get to interact with these intelligences that arose very differently from human intelligence. They do not see the world in the same way as us because they have more wavelengths of light that they can see, they have different sound that they can hear, they just live in a different world from us. By volunteering here, you get a chance to see this whole other world that you would not be able to see by just being around other humans,” said Eric Gordon, one of the sanctuaries volunteers.

The sanctuary has an open house on Saturday, Dec. 11th.

These are the links to become a volunteer at the sanctuary and the community service hours forms: