Kevin Linder

Kevin Linder

Parrots moved into Nanaimo shelter

NANAIMO – More than 50 exotic birds at the former Nanaimo SPCA building and more are on the way from the Coombs World Parrot Refuge.

“Old MacDonald had a farm.”

Matt Spate, a supervisor for Greyhaven Exotic Bird Sanctuary, sung the first line of the classic childhood tune to a yellow-fronted Amazon parrot bobbing its head as it clung to perch at the former Nanaimo SPCA building.

“E-I-E-I-O,” it chimed in on cue.

The bird, nicknamed Old MacDonald for the song he can recite, is one of more than 50 exotic birds from Coombs World Parrot Refuge that’s found temporary shelter at the Labieux Road facility, now filled with a cacophony of screeches, calls of “hello,” and the ring of cages.

The City of Nanaimo turned over the lease of the former SPCA to Greyhaven last month until its sale of the building closes in December. It’s been a stop-gap measure for the non-profit, which faces an Aug. 1 deadline to remove all of the birds from the Coombs’ World Parrot Refuge, whose founder died in February.

John Creviston, interim manager of the Greyhaven World Parrot Refuge Trust, said the Nanaimo building has been a life saver and he gives the city his every kudos. The birds haven’t had to be moved far, there’s not as much immediate pressure and the organization has a little bit of time to “work through this and gradually start adopting out birds at all of our locations.”

He said the priority has been to remove the birds from the Coombs facility so they are no longer at risk, and they are making “huge strides.”

Parrots had been in various states, some severely underweight, and a number were victims of bullying by other birds, according to Creviston, who said the refuge was set up to be a ‘home for life’ and in his estimate it was a mistake.

The site now has 89 birds, down from more than 600, and it’s hoped those that remain will be gone within the next week. Some of the birds will go to the Nanaimo shelter, which is being modified. Following the removal of the birds, Creviston said they will screen prospective adopters, adding that at last count, e-mails requesting to adopt birds numbered well over 2,000.

He’s feeling ‘very positive’ about the situation today, he told the News Bulletin.

“We can’t guarantee all of their futures 100 per cent, nobody can, but we’re certainly making every effort we can to give them a much better life than they’ve been experiencing to date,” he said.

The organization is looking for cash donations to care for the birds, as well as nuts, large bird cages, branches for perches and paperback books for toys.

For more information about adoption or donations, please visit