There are over 60 birds that call the Hamilton Aviary ‘home’, everything from peacocks to cockatoos, budgies, African Greys and more, with some of the birds (like Cocoa) reaching ages of 60 years old!
Now, all of these feathered friends are about to lose their home.
Back in the beginning of October, you may have heard wind of the imminent closure of the Hamilton Aviary building. The Hamilton Aviary is a public, city-owned and volunteer-run organization that is found on the RBG property behind Westdale. The location that should have been home to the birds for just two years, has now been home to the Friends of the Aviary and the flock for over 15 years.
As someone who was a previous volunteer with Friends of the Aviary, I was heartbroken to hear of the news that the city had planned to close the location and find new homes for the flock, separating the birds. I’m not a bird expert by any means, but bird lovers will know that parrots, cockatiels and other birds have a tough time with change. They imprint on their care-givers, or other bird friends, and changing up this home can create extreme distress for the birds. This change would completely uproot the birds lives, and is not the ideal option for the health of the flock.
So why did the city suddenly decide to close the aviary? The city documents note of substantial repairs that will be required to the building and unsafe conditions for the birds (such as improper lighting and mice issues), based on reports from the OSPCA. The new Friends of the Aviary board had not been made aware of this until the future closure was announced.
The Friends of the Aviary immediately released a petition to send to City Councillors and the mayor, asking for leeway time to resolve some of these issues. The petition has been signed over 3,200 times from Hamiltonians. To read more about the initial petition, visit this link
When speaking with Sherry Houston, Secretary of the Friends of the Aviary Board of Directors, regarding how they are aiming to please the city, she said “Our board hit the ground running in an effort to address the three issues of concern for the city. Over the past two weeks we have consulted zoological veterinarians and aviculture experts. We have investigated human and bird-safe pest control and the proper quantities and types of lighting required to create the best environment. We have contacted the current land-owner to initiate discussions. We have begun research for potential sites and have enjoyed the support of both a professional marketer and fundraiser. And, in a scant 2 1/2 weeks, we were able to submit our proposal to the City. It is my understanding that the proposal will go to a vote before the Public Works Committee in Council Chambers on Monday, November 13th.”
The Friends of the Aviary are asking to keep caring for the birds, rather than turning them over to Animal Services, and find a new home so that the flock can stay together. Ideally, they hope to satisfy the outstanding orders of the OSPCA for pest control and lighting and conduct necessary, minor repairs to the building, remaining in the Westdale building for the next 3 to 5 years until they can find their forever home.
The new Proposal by the Friends of the Aviary will be presented to the Public Works Committee on Monday November 13th at 9:30AM.
How can you help?
Contact your city councillors and let them know you support keeping the flock together for the health of the birds, or attend the public proposal meeting on Monday November 13th. Keep an eye on on their Facebook page for news updates and any info about how you can help HERE. The experts the Friends of the Aviary has consulted, agree that the best thing for these birds emotionally, psychologically and physically, is to maintain the comfort and safety of the flock experience.
Friends of the Aviary
85 Oak Knoll Dr
Hamilton, Ontario L8S 4C2