Pandemonium birds need help taking flight to new home

Town Crier File Photo
Michele Raffin of Pandemonium Aviaries is looking to fly her birds back east.

The new home for birds at Pandemonium Aviaries is ready. A successful $1 million capital campaign has paid for it. Now comes the next challenge: transporting the birds.

Michele Raffin, founder and CEO of the Los Altos Hills-based sanctuary, needs someone with a private plane to fly her birds – including endangered species like the crowned pigeon of New Guinea – to their new cross-country home in Sylvan Heights, N.C. The largest bird park in the United States, Sylvan Heights has three aviaries ready for the Pandemonium birds.

“We just have to get the birds there,” Raffin said last week.

She noted that ground travel is not an option – some birds would not survive such a trip.

“Our birds need your wings.” she said in a pitch to prospective donors.

Raffin said she needs approximately 350 cubic feet of space to transport the birds. She’s hoping they can make the move as soon as July.

Raffin has operated Pandemonium Aviaries for 24 years, preserving species by growing and “banking” genetically diverse flocks of birds from countries that are not doing enough on-site conservation. She founded it in 1996 after a chance encounter with an injured bird. The facility evolved into a sanctuary for birds that were being discarded by breeders.

But the birds need more space, prompting the move to Sylvan Heights. Raffin plans to stay involved – she serves on the Sylvan Heights Board of Directors.

“Keeping the birds alive is not enough,” she said late last year. “We also preserve their ‘culture’ by how we raise them. Our intent is to one day return these birds to the wild when it is safe to do so. They will need learned as well as innate skills to survive.”

Raffin said the trip would be tax deductible because the birds are part of a conservation effort. Many of them are the last of their kind, she said, and flying air is the safest way.

Prospective pilots can get in touch with Raffin through the Town Crier by emailing [email protected].

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