Walking into Pandemonium Aviaries, visitors are greeted by a chorus of cackles, screeches, whoops, and coos. The majestic birds are surrounded by whimsy in the Los Altos Hills. But, this isn't just a bird sanctuary... it is also Michele Raffin's home.
"We have two versions of how we got our name," explained Raffin. "Our first is our official version, which is pandemonium is the flock name for parrots. But the real version is that we had the name before we had parrots, and we knew it was the flock name for parrots."
Raffin started her flock in 1997 when she stopped on Lawrence Expressway to rescue an injured dove.
"I didn't want to see just lie there waiting to be run over again by a car, so I picked it up and took it to a vet," said Raffin.
Word quickly spread that Raffin was willing to help out injured or abandoned birds.
"One by one, then 10 by 10, and then hundreds started coming," added Raffin.
Raffin's countless rescues led to Pandemonium Aviaries, a non-profit organization. Now, volunteers help take care of the animals and maintain the facilities.
"This is the last aviary," described Raffin. "It's called the last aviary because every time I build and aviary, I tell my husband, 'This is the last aviary.' Problem is that it got confusing because we kept moving it. So we retired it at number 9, and we now have 64 aviaries."
Though Pandemonium Aviaries still cares for the sick and injured animals they initially took in, they no longer accept rescue birds.
"We breed endangered birds for release to the wild. We are a conservation organization," said Raffin.
Today, Pandemonium Aviaries is one of the largest bird sanctuaries in the United States. The facility is home to more than 360 birds and 70 endangered species.
"What we have here is the green-naped pheasant pigeons and Pandemonium has more of these than any other conservation organization in the entire world," said Raffin.
Pandemonium Aviaries is currently actively engaged in breeding several of their endangered species including the blue crown and Victoria crowned pigeons.
"In terms of the crown pigeons, they are the modern day dodo bird. The dodo bird was the world's largest pigeon, now these are the largest pigeons," explained Raffin.
Maintaining the aviaries and caring for these beautiful birds is expensive.
Raffin added that, "Unless we get supported by the public, there will be no Pandemonium. We won't be able to save these birds."
So how can you help keep this very special going and see these rare and exotic birds? Pandemonium Aviaries is opening their doors for a very special Mother's Day event this weekend. The proceeds will go to continuing the program.
Written and Produced by Ken Miguel
Pandemonium Bird and Garden Tour
Saturday, May 11, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. - Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 4:00 p.m. (PT)
Los Altos Hills, CA
To purchase tickets:
Lance Lawson Lance@PandemoniumAviaries.org