Bird adoption, sanctuary, rescue, and care education services for parrots and other captive exotic 'pet' birds. Based in Minneapolis - St. Paul (Twin Cities) area of Minnesota and serving Midwest.

 

 

1360 University Ave W #347  St. Paul, MN 55104  

Phone: (651) 275-0568  Fax: (651) 275-0457  

E-mail: birds@maars.org  

  Captive Bird Rescue, Adoption, Sanctuary & Care Education MAARSianChronicles 

 

Home > News & Events > MAARSianChronicles > Issue 11: February 2005 > Volunteer Spotlight: Jenifer Kramer – Always Willing to Help

Volunteer Spotlight

Jenifer Kramer performs a detailed cage-check of all of the small birds at the beginning of her Thursday night shift, and also buys and prepares all of the fresh produce for the entire MAARS flock.

Jenifer Kramer performs a detailed cage-check of all of the small birds at the beginning of her Thursday night shift, and also buys and prepares all of the fresh produce for the entire MAARS flock.

Jenifer Kramer – Always Willing to Help

by Jamie McCarthy, MAARS Director of Staff Training & Education / Placement Counselor

Jenifer Kramer began volunteering for MAARS in May 2002 after learning a little bit about MAARS through the VolunteerMatch program. She has been a regular on the Thursday evening shift ever since, but recently, Jenifer has been taking on more responsibilities at MAARS.

At the beginning of each shift, Jenifer does a detailed cage-check of every bird in the small bird room at The Landing. With quakers, conures, lories, small cockatoos, and 75 cockatiels, this is no easy task. But Jenifer has taken the time to get to know these birds, and during each cage-check she watches each of them very carefully for signs of illness and injury. This careful attention to the birds allowed her to identify signs of illness in two cockatiels. Because of her astuteness in detecting illnesses in these birds, MAARS was able to provide supportive care and treatment immediately; both birds recovered and were able to rejoin the flock after only a few days.

A few months ago, Jenifer approached Tina McCormick, Director of Operations, about other ways she could help out. I mentioned that MAARS needed someone to take over shopping for all the fresh fruits and vegetables we feed the flock and other basic supplies used at The Landing. Jenifer agreed to commit to this task, and now each week she takes an inventory of needed supplies at The Landing, and gets to dream up yummy and nutritious meals and treats for the whole MAARS flock.

In addition to her weekly shift and shopping excursions, Jenifer is always ready to help out MAARS at public events. She worked in the MAARS booth at both the 2004 Pet Expo and 2005 Women's Expo answering questions about MAARS and the work we do, pitched in to help set up for the 2004 Silent Auction, and stopped by to lend her support during a recent MAARS Adoption Promotion Day at Chuck & Don's Pet Food Outlet in St. Louis Park.

At home, Jenifer and her husband, Kevin, are guardians to two cockatiels. She has said that volunteering at MAARS taught her to truly appreciate and understand the complex needs of captive birds. In March 2003, Jenifer's application to adopt a pair of cockatiels, Kurt and Karen, was approved by the Placement Committee. Prior to bringing them home, Jenifer spent several months getting to know Kurt and Karen at The Landing and preparing them to join her family. This is an important step in the placement process and Jenifer took her role as their caregiver seriously before making a commitment to the two birds.

Cockatiel, Karen, investigates a fake egg.

Cockatiel, Karen, investigates a fake egg.

"All of the birds were indifferent to me except for Kurt and Karen…they both sat on my forearm without flying away. I thought that was unusual for a cockatiel to stay put like that so I thought they must like me somewhat and I tried to get to know them better. Karen quickly started stepping up for me and she would sit on my shoulder for a good part of the shift. Kurt was another story, however. He would not come out of the cage at first at all. Eventually I coaxed him out by taking Karen out and leaving the cage door open. He ventured out after I walked away. Unfortunately, he then spent a good deal of time marching over other tiels' cage tops and screaming at them for who knows what! I tried to work with him but he bit me incessantly. I was having some doubts about whether it would work out with him, but Karen was such a sweetie, I decided I was going to make it work! He has come a long way since then, but he is still Kurt. He still has that edge to his personality, but now loves to be held, shows lots of affection, and sometimes even likes to cuddle. He also has revealed a needy side through that tough exterior. His personality is a lot bigger than his 80 grams of physical size!"

Upside-Down Girl, a cockatiel, caught Jenifer's eye as a possible new partner for Kurt.

Upside-Down Girl, a cockatiel, caught Jenifer's eye as a possible new partner for Kurt.

From the very beginning, Karen was beset with health issues, and Jen and Kevin endured many visits to the vet and emergency clinic. Sadly, in September 2004, the vets could no longer help Karen, and she passed away. It took Jen and Kurt a few months to grieve their loss, but in December, Jenifer began began working with Upside-Down Girl and felt that she and Kurt would be compatible. Kurt was letting Jen and Kevin know that he missed having a special friend.

"About a day-and-a-half after Karen died, Kurt started singing his heart out. He had always sung a little bit, but this was something new. It broke our hearts and we thought at first that he was looking for Karen, but this behavior persisted long past any normal grieving period. He would quit singing if you picked him up and gave him attention, so it's possible it was purely attention-seeking behavior, but we finally concluded that he was probably trying to attract a new mate. He was very responsive if he heard another bird, either a wild one outside or a recording of one. Also, we have a small, decorative mirror that is only five inches in diameter on the wall near his cage. We put him in front of it and he started 'talking' to the 'bird' in the mirror."

Adopted cockatiels, Kurt and Upside-Down Girl, live happily with MAARS Volunteer, Jenifer Kramer.

Adopted cockatiels, Kurt and Upside-Down Girl, live happily with MAARS Volunteer, Jenifer Kramer.

Upside-Down Girl went home with Jenifer and Kevin in mid-January. After further medical testing and a two-week quarantine, she was introduced to Kurt. The two had been calling back and forth to each other, and were very excited to finally meet. According to Jen, they are very much in love and quite frisky! Jenifer reports that Kurt struts around vocalizing with his chest puffed out and seems quite impressed by her talent for climbing on the ceiling of their cage, hanging out upside-down!

 

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