JOYOUS SCREAMS

Butte sanctuary is for exotic birds

2012-04-08T07:15:00Z 2012-04-08T07:17:53Z Butte sanctuary is for exotic birdsBy John Grant Emeigh of The Montana Standard Montana Standard

A scream emanating from a second floor window on West Broadway Street one afternoon stunned a passer-by. 

“Help me! Help me!” the voice cried. The shocked pedes-trian thought someone was trapped.

Lori McAlexander laughs when she recounts that story. No one was trapped. It was just one of her exotic birds crying wolf.

The irony is that the bird screaming for “help” already was rescued, along with many other birds. McAlexander operates Montana’s Parrot and Exotic

Bird Sanctuary out of that location at 55 W. Broadway St. in Uptown Butte.

She has an affinity for the fine-feathered friends.

“I’ve always like birds. I’ve always been a bird brain,” she says.

McAlexander and her husband, Branch, have run the sanctuary for the past eight years. They provide a safe haven for about a dozen birds, which include cockatoos, an African gray and macaws.

“We get birds from all over,” McAlexander said.

BEING THE only exotic bird sanctuary in the region, McAlexander says they’ve taken in unwanted or orphaned birds from as far away as New Hampshire to Los Angeles. She rehabilitates them, and then makes them available for adoption. In its eight years of operation, homes have been found for more than 600 birds, she said.

Life at the studio loft sanctuary is, if anything, noisy.

Ryan Trevithick, a volunteer, says a cockatoo’s scream can get as loud as 120 decibels. (A gunshot or firecracker is 140 decibels.)

“You can sometimes hear them down on Main Street,” Trevithick said.

Noise is just one of the many reasons some people can’t handle exotic birds as pets. That’s why McAlexander says it’s important to have a sanctuary.

She said people tend to buy exotic birds on impulse and aren’t prepared to handle them.

“They think they are like cats and dogs, but they’re not,” she said. “They are very complicated and very social. If you think about it, they live in flocks.”

She said the biggest mistake bird owners make is not giving these social birds enough attention. They can easily become stressed and squawk loudly, become aggressive and damage property. She says stressed exotic birds also start “plucking,” which is when they start pulling out their own feathers.

NOT EVERYONE can handle exotic birds, which can live as long as 60 to 80 years.

McAlexander knows bird owners whose wills mandate that their pets be turned over to the sanctuary when the owner dies.

She recalls taking in an African gray that once belonged to actor Val Kilmer.

“I never got to met him, but I did talk to him on the phone,” she said, adding that the bird was eventually adopted.

A most recent acquisition is a cockatiel, which was rescued outside the Butte courthouse last month. Courthouse employees turned it over to the sanctuary, and it has yet to be claimed.

Some birds get to the Butte sanctuary in other ways.

Chi Chi, a Mexican red-headed parrot, belonged to a biker gang in New Hampshire. After police raided the gang’s home, the bird was left orphaned, so authorities turned it over to McAlexander.

Chi Chi came with biker baggage, to say the least.

“He had some really colorful language when we first got him,” she said.

Reporter John Grant Emeigh may be reached via email at john.emeigh@lee.net Follow him on Twitter.com/@johnemeigh

Copyright 2015 Montana Standard. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(1) Comments

  1. mpebs
    Report Abuse
    mpebs - April 08, 2012 8:53 am
    Thank you John and everyone involved at the Montana Standard for telling our story! It's a wonderful article!

    Again, thank you all and we look forward to meeting anyone that would like to volunteer or visit the sanctuary. Just give us a call to set-up an appointment! 406-593-1150

Civil Dialogue

We provide this community forum for readers to exchange ideas and opinions on the news of the day. Passionate views, pointed criticism and critical thinking are welcome. Name-calling, crude language and personal abuse are not welcome. Moderators will monitor comments with an eye toward maintaining a high level of civility in this forum. Our comment policy explains the rules of the road for registered commenters. If you receive an error after submitting a comment, please contact us at editor@mtstandard.com.

If your comment was removed or isn't appearing online, perhaps:

  1. You called someone an idiot, a racist, a dope, a moron, etc. Please, no name-calling or profanity (or veiled profanity -- #$%^&*).
  2. You rambled, failed to stay on topic or exhibited troll-like behavior intended to hijack the discussion at hand.
  3. YOU SHOUTED YOUR COMMENT IN ALL CAPS. This is hard to read and annoys readers.
  4. You have issues with a business. Have a bad meal? Feel you were overcharged at the store? New car is a lemon? Contact the business directly with your customer service concerns.
  5. You included an e-mail address or phone number, pretended to be someone you aren't or offered a comment that makes no sense.
  6. You accused someone of a crime or assigned guilt or punishment to someone suspected of a crime.
  7. Your comment is in really poor taste.
Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick

Follow the Montana Standard

Montana Videos

Montana Prehistory Minute: Recovering dino bones like taking marshmallows out of concrete

Museum of the Rockies curator of paleontology Jack Horner explains how difficult it is to remove thescelosa…

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

Missoulian reporter Kate Haake presents the latest news you need to know about today's headl…

Boy baffled by payphone

Boy baffled by payphone

How technology has changed children. Phones now fit in pockets and purses, so this little bo…

Featured Offers & Deals

Great Butte Businesses

Vote now! Question of the Week

Loading…

Butte school trustees recently voted 7-0 to spend up to $700,000 for artificial turf on the football field at Naranche Stadium. Do you support this decision? Vote at www.mtstandard.com

View Results