Featured Volunteer: Megan Cowdell

Article from “The Mickaboo Bird Rescue Companion”
Published April, 2022

By The Editor

Megan Cowdell has volunteered with Mickaboo since the pandemic began, sharing her expertise and skills to pivot our in-person events to virtual experiences. She recently joined one of our significant rescues. Let's meet Megan and hear why she's excited to volunteer with Mickaboo.

How did you find out about Mickaboo?

I first found out about Mickaboo when I was learning about the flock of wild conures who live in San Francisco, commonly known as the Telegraph Hill Parrots. Mickaboo is the rescue who takes in injured members of the flock, rehabilitates them, and puts them up for adoption. I thought it was incredible that I could adopt members of this famous flock and reached out to Mickaboo. I attended the Basic Bird Care Class and then completed my application, phone screen, and home visit. I was then matched with the Wild Parrot Coordinator from Mickaboo and got to meet some members of the flock. Sansome and Dewey quickly stole my heart and I had to adopt them. You can follow Sansome & Dewey on Facebook

What do you do for Mickaboo? What do you enjoy most about it?

I started to volunteer with Mickaboo at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, and since then have been able to help in a variety of ways. One of my main roles is running the tech for Mickaboo’s Virtual Adoption Fairs (VAFs). When COVID hit, Mickaboo realized the need to pivot to digital events. I have some professional experience moderating Zoom webinars, so happily volunteered to support Mickaboo's use of Zoom. Doing so has been a great way to meet other Mickaboo volunteers and get our foster birds some much needed publicity. I also really enjoyed having a regular group of volunteers to connect with during such an isolating time.

In addition to working on the VAFs, I’m on the Mickaboo social media team. I’ve taken a brief hiatus from regular posts, but expect to see more activity on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter soon! I’m also a part of the Wild Conure team and have had some neat experiences in this role. Often members of the wild flock end up at San Francisco Animal Care & Control when they are injured. Since I live in San Francisco, I’m sometimes asked to help transport these birds to the vet. One bird, Poppy, appeared to have a spinal injury. While waiting to transport her I was able to hand feed her grapes and banana. I’m still in such awe of the wild flock, so being able to help an injured member like this meant so much to me.

I’ve also been able to help transport birds to foster homes, do phone screens for potential adopters, craft and support the fundraising auctions, and help with rescues and in-person events. Of all these roles however, my absolute favorite is being a foster mom! I’m currently fostering Willow the African Grey; it’s been so wonderful getting to know her. I know a lot of folks struggle with the idea of letting a foster bird “go”, but I try not to think of it like that. There will always be birds who need temporary safe landing spaces and being able to provide that to them is so rewarding. Plus, it’s cool getting to know a new bird, their likes and dislikes, and matching them with their perfect forever home.

What is the most memorable experience you’ve had with Mickaboo?

My most memorable experience was the Pleasant Hill Finch Rescue! This was my first time participating in a rescue, and it turned out to be the largest in Mickaboo’s history!

On February 13th, four other volunteers and I showed up in-person at the surrenderer’s house. We had been advised there were 60-80 finches living in an outdoor aviary. The five of us arrived with lots of carriers, nets, and finch seed ready to rescue these sweet little birdies (or little beepers, as I like to call them).

Once we got there, we realized how cramped and dirty the outdoor aviary was. We were expecting to find nests and babies, but due to the overcrowding the finches had stopped breeding on their own. We broke up into teams, and I was one of the two volunteers who spent most of the time in the aviary catching the finches. Before this rescue I had never caught a bird using a net – turns out it’s a skill of mine! We caught, triaged, and placed every finch into the carriers. We left the property that day with a grand total of 177 finches – almost double the expected number!

It was meaningful to be a part of the rescue team. Mickaboo is entirely volunteer run, and I’m constantly amazed at what we accomplish together. You can see some footage of the rescue, including me netting some finches here.

What would you say to others who are considering volunteering with Mickaboo?

If you are considering volunteering, please reach out to us! Mickaboo is a community of incredible and kind people who all share one thing in common – our love of companion birds. I’ve made feathered friends, human friends, and have gained a real sense of purpose by volunteering with Mickaboo. We need you and your skills, and more importantly, our flock needs you!

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