A Message for Our New Year
Published January, 2021
By Michelle Yesney, CEO
Greetings to all of you in the Mickaboo community. I hope all of you are (against all odds) prospering - human and avian flocks alike.
This is a difficult message to write this year. At this time, Mickaboo and I have no way of knowing how many of you have suffered from the various tribulations that have made this a year of extraordinary horrors, nor can we know how severely those impacts have been. For those of you who have contracted COVID19, we all hope you are recovering and feeling well.
It would be too much to assume that none of our families have lost someone to this terrible disease, although I very much hope that is the case. If you have lost a friend or family member, please know that you have our deepest sympathy, and I speak for all of Mickaboo in saying so.
We know that many of you were threatened by the wildfires, but we don’t know how serious the damage was for everyone. We hope that all of you have come through this fire season with your homes and families safe.
It is probable that the economic impacts are creating hardships for some of us, and that many are uncertain about the future. Please reach out to Mickaboo if there is something we can do to help.
With so many sources of grief and fear, I am grateful to be able to report to you that Mickaboo and our birds are doing well. Because our volunteers and supporters believe so strongly in the importance of what Mickaboo is all about, you have rallied to incredible lengths to keep us functioning and our birds safe and healthy.
The numbers I have to report to you are both scary (141 incoming budgies??? Yikes!) and comforting (class attendance is at an all-time high). Mickaboo has responded to this worldwide disaster in remarkable ways, all of them involving people stepping up to work longer hours, taking on more responsibility, and contributing in every way possible (time, resources, money, advice).
The workforce that sustains Mickaboo is all volunteer, all the time. This year, that dedication is reaching new levels of effort - people working unbelievable hours, 7 days a week, month after month. I started to make a list of people who have made remarkable contributions through their personal efforts to keep our birds safe and get them into good homes. I immediately realized that I don’t even know all of the people who are doing such incredible work. I’m constantly interacting with new volunteers jumping in, and old volunteers taking on new and additional work. Despite these new people, we are seeing volunteers who have to leave - they’re moving, the burdens of life are too great right now, some people just cannot still be involved. So if you have a few hours to spare, please reach out to us and offer your skills!
In order to adequately recognize all of our incredible, selfless contributors, I will have to make a different effort - it will take many of you to complete such a list, so I will start a volunteer recognition outreach on the Discuss list and ask everyone to contribute.
For the purpose of this message, I have to call out the two people I believe we could literally not have survived this year without - Pamela Lee and Sarah Lemarié.
I suspect that almost every volunteer involved with Mickaboo has interacted with both of these people this year. Pam is our Chief Financial Officer and Sarah is our Chief Operations Officer. Among the activities they were individually or collectively responsible for this year have been the creation and implementation of the virtual adoption fairs, on-line classes, on-line staff meetings, a virtual Holiday Party, moving home visits on-line, management and enhancement of our virtual presence in a variety of media. They did not, of course, lead or complete all of these initiatives alone but they did initiate or support in various ways all of the major efforts that made our survival possible. Working with each and all of us, they have been key in our ability to meet our goals and provide for our birds.
I know that both of them have worked incredibly long hours, juggling multiple responsibilities and using their individually outstanding personal skills to give Mickaboo the ability to respond to new challenges in productive and sustainable fashion. Please join me in thanking both of them for giving so much of themselves to Mickaboo this year.
HOW’RE WE DOING?
Numbers are generally less exciting than stories about rescues, but Mickaboo’s numbers are the underlying truth about how successful we are in what we do. Mickaboo as an organization has two primary goals: rescue birds from untenable, unhealthy or potentially fatal conditions and educate people about how to live with companion birds.
In 2005, Mickaboo implemented our first comprehensive database, called Animal Shelter Manager, or ASM. Matt Linton (our long term Technical Lead) found an English developer who was willing to give us this priceless resource and even help us adapt it to our needs. I personally consider it my primary responsibility to protect it and oversee its appropriate use.
This year, Vincent Hrovat, part of the Mickaboo Technical Support Team, has spent a great deal of time and effort in cleaning up the inevitable inconsistencies, errors, and oversights in ASM that result from 15 years of heavy use. I’m sharing all of this background information to emphasize that this year’s numbers represent the reconciliation of our background and current information. The “grand totals” at the end of this report may contain inconsistencies with past years, but they are truly the best numbers we have and represent the combined efforts of all of us to make them so.
We also have a new category of relevant statistics - people who make up the educational element of our basic purpose.
Petr Kosina is our social media coordinator, and he has been a critical lead in our effort to move our classes on-line. He pioneered our virtual class and oversees the interface between the classes and other social media (especially Facebook). Petr has compiled numbers about our people - the numbers of people who have taken our Basic Bird Care classes this year and in the past.
Numbers of Birds
Mickaboo took in a total of 283 birds this last year, which is the largest intake number in at least the last four years. We adopted out 228 birds, the largest number of adoptions since 2017 and extremely impressive in a year in which we had to re-invent our entire adoption system from beginning to end!
The species most rescued this year was budgies (141), the largest number of any single year species intake I could find a record for. Second largest number of intakes was finches and canaries (47 - mostly finches), and the third largest number of birds taken in this year was cockatiels (34). All three numbers were the largest in the last four years. Of the bigger species, the largest numbers rescued were conures (13), Telegraph Hill conures (12) and African greys (5).
In addition to new rescues, I am sad to report that we had 20 returnees. Mickaboo makes a lifetime commitment to the birds we rescue, and that includes always taking them back.
The positive side of this news was the very high adoption numbers for some of these same species: 36 cockatiels were adopted and 83 budgies (both numbers substantially larger than last year. We adopted out more greys than we took in (6) and a LOT more Amazons (8 versus 3 taken in).
Overall, we adopted out 228 birds this year, more than either of the last two years, although less than in 2017.
Mickaboo currently has 358 birds in foster care. The source and status of those birds is shown in the following metrics:
- New intakes in 2020: 283
- Re-intakes in 2020: 20
- Adoptions in 2020: 228
- Died in hospice/foster care: 49
- Birds in foster care: 358
Numbers of People
In 2019, Mickaboo offered 58 classes (yes, more than one per week). Some were phone classes; others were in person classes offered in the San Francisco Bay Area. There was a total of 359 attendees at those classes. Class sizes ranged from one person to 16 people. In past years, we have also offered in-person classes in the Sacramento Valley and in Santa Cruz County. We were unable to do so in 2019.
In 2020, Mickaboo offered 34 classes nine of which were in-person and the rest (25) were on the phone or webinars. Class sizes ranged from one person to 40. Total attendees were 546. This was a spectacular increase.
To manage this number of class attendees required our teachers to retrain themselves and work out techniques for teaching, monitoring, and managing a very different dynamic. We literally saw our audience expand from northern California to the world (albeit adopters were all located in the western United States).
A critical part of our charter as a nonprofit has always been education about the care and nurturing of companion birds. We are starting to see this role expand as our classes have become more accessible to more people.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
As the world has changed around us, Mickaboo is also looking inward. Our primary responsibility is always to the birds who depend on us for life itself, but we are considering how we can best exercise the appropriate care and stewardship. As part of a national coalition of rescues and sanctuaries, the Parrot Conservation Alliance, we are increasingly aware of the changes that will impact us and our birds profoundly in the future. This long-term planning effort will, we hope, allow us to more directly interact with the social, legal, and economic forces that will affect us rather than just waiting passively for whatever happens.
Stay with us - we’ll share what we learn as move forward!