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Pensacola’s Parrot Sanctuary and Rescue Park…

Posted by on April 23, 2016

April 23, 2016. Pensacola, Florida. 



LOCAL ATTRACTIONS. I’m getting stronger every day and I’ll start outpatient rehab at West Florida Rehabilitation Institute next Monday. I’m hoping I’ll get paired again with the therapist I had when I was an inpatient there.  Her name is Jackie. An avid swimmer, runner, cyclist and triathlon competitor, she didn’t put up with any of my whining when I complained that she was demanding too much from me. She’s an attractive girl whom I’d guess is in her late twenties and she was “no nonsense.” I liked her at the time and I appreciate her now even more. If she’d not pushed as hard as she did, I doubt I’d be doing as well now as I am doing.  Since I’m progressing lots faster than I anticipated, we’re hoping to get back on the road by late July, so we can continue our Great American Adventure much earlier than expected. In the meantime, we’re seeing as many of the sights in the Pensacola area as possible. Those sights include Uncle Sandy’s Macaw Bird Park.


Five bucks gets you past the entry gate.

UNCLE SANDY’S MACAW BIRD PARK. The name of this place initially sounds about as interesting as the Trout Farms where we all took our kids to go fishing when they were little. Remember those places? I thought you would. Anyhow, after spending several hours at Uncle Sandy’s this afternoon I can report that it’s quite a place, with an admirable mission. So, who is Uncle Sandy? He was born and raised on a little island off the coast of Honduras, where macaws fly free and where he developed a passion for them. After retiring in Pensacola, he built a large free-flight open area where his macaws could enjoy flying. His neighbors, hearing the calls of the birds, became curious about them and inquired of Sandy. He was delighted to show them his birds and it wasn’t long before abandoned parrots began showing up at his doorstep. He created this sanctuary to rescue these abandoned birds and so people could view them and learn about them as well. Sandy died in 2013, but a group of volunteers established a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation to continue his legacy of saving birds and educating the public about them.


The birds weren’t all parrots. A few others somehow “got in the door.” And it would be pretty hard to say “no” to a good looking chicken like this one, anyway. 


These guys were hungry. We fed each of them about a half-dozen peanuts in the shell, and they wanted more! Sorry, We’ve got to save some for the other parrots.


This one came out of that window to greet us.

ALL VOLUNTEER STAFF. Today the Park is run by an all-volunteer staff. The docents are remarkably friendly and knowledgeable. Florence was also able to provide me with some information about the birds, since many years ago she owned some parrots and kept them in a couple of the retail stores she owned at the time: “The Plant Orphanage” and “The Basket Case.” These birds are very talkative and Jessie, one of Florence’s birds, lived in a large cage not far from the telephone in one of the stores. Well, you guessed it, Jessie was fond of blurting “Hello, the Plant Orphanage” and “Good-bye, gotta go.” A true story.  As was the story about Florence being able to play the organ, as those of you who have been following my blog for a long time will recall from our visit to Battleboro, Vermont last year.  

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When peacocks spread their tail feathers, they are “showing off.”

“Here’s looking at you, kid.” 


This turkey’s name is Tom…of course.

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Showing off, from a little different angle.

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Now that’s one colorful parrot.

WHERE DO THE BIRDS COME FROM?  The Sanctuary provides a home for all types of abandoned parrots and a few other types whose owners can no longer provide for them. Why are they abandoned? There are lots of reasons. First, these birds have extraordinarily long life-spans…they can live to be 100 years old, and often they outlive their owners. Second, since parrots form an exceptionally strong bond with their handlers and become very protective, it sometimes becomes risky for children or others in the family to be around them. Third, since Pensacola is a military town and personnel are often deployed overseas, the birds are sometimes left behind because of customs regulations which don’t allow for the parrots to be imported to the new duty station. And finally, as one of the volunteers told me, caring for the parrots is a lot of work and some folks don’t realize what they’re getting in for at the time of purchase. 


The birds were all friendly and wanted to “strut their stuff.”



GETTING UP-CLOSE. Upon entering the sanctuary, we were met by a gaggle of birds, a few peacocks, a turkey and some roosters. For the more adventuresome visitors, there is a huge aviary occupied by lots of colorful parrots. They can bite, however, and often do. We chose to ignore the “Enter at Your Own Risk” sign at the entrance to the aviary so we could get up close and personal, and get lots of pictures. We each took a handful of peanuts to feed the parrots, and that no doubt helped us once inside the aviary. We both survived without a single bite! We got some pretty good photos, too. Here’s a sampling:


I couldn’t coax this one to come out in the sunlight, but he’s pretty colorful even in the shade.

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Sneaking up behind a white peacock.



Deep in thought.  Parrots supposedly have the intelligence of a two year old child. 





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