I am a sucker for animals. So, even though I don’t have any, I was immediately drawn to the cover of Birds of a Feather (2018) by Lorin Lindner. Now, birds are not my favorite, but when you look a little deeper, they are smart and fascinating creatures. Since they often live in very complex, social societies, they can relate to humans in surprising ways. And they can talk to us! I’d already read Alex & Me by Irene Pepperberg, and I was willing to read more about parrots. When I looked closer, I saw that Lindner’s book was both about saving parrots as well as helping homeless veterans. My job quite often requires dealing with the homeless and addicted, which is usually sad and frustrating. I wanted to read what Lindner had done to help them.
Lindner wasn’t planning on getting a bird, but when an acquaintance called to tell her that a bright-pink Moluccan Cockatoo was found screaming, alone in an empty house with no food, she adopted him. At the same time, Lindner was working at the L.A. Veterans Healthcare Center. She ran into countless homeless veterans on the street that were not getting any services. In fact, the Veterans Administration stated that there weren’t any homeless veterans.
With small steps, dedication, and a lot of hard work, Lindner was able to intertwine her suddenly growing bird sanctuary with help for homeless veterans. She founded Serenity Park on the grounds of the LA Veterans Healthcare Center. The birds came from all over, and willing veterans helped to care for them. The birds were often traumatized and difficult–requiring a lot of care. But they were also social and non-judgmental. Not only did working at Serenity Park give the veterans something useful and fulfilling to do, but the parrots often became important companions. Lindner is honest in saying that this sometimes wasn’t enough, and not everyone pulled through. But it did help a number of ex-soldiers.
This book was written in a very clear, straightforward manner. It was easy to read and consistently interesting. The writing isn’t anything special, but I admired Lindner’s dedication to helping those less fortunate around her. I think I am pretty sensitive, so I have a very hard time seeing any thing suffer. Lindner seemed to have a similar personality, but unlike me, she did something about it and had a significant impact on many lives. After finishing this book, I definitely did not want a parrot as a pet, but I had even more respect for them as intelligent animals. If you have any interest in them, I would recommend the documentary The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill. I also found Petra the African Grey on Youtube, and she is pretty entertaining.
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