Raffin recounts how a chance encounter with an injured dove proved to be a life-changing experience.
Fifteen years ago, the author, now a conservation columnist for the Aviculture Society of America, was a stay-at-home mom who had put her career as a Silicon Valley executive on hold in order to care for her sons. When her trainer showed up late for their appointment at the gym, he explained that he had stopped to move an injured dove to the side of the highway. Raffin went back with him to pick up the bird and take it to a veterinarian; though it eventually died, the seeds of her new vocation were planted. A newspaper advertisement led to her agreeing to take in a pet dove in need of a home, and she was hooked. More birds followed, and she became a volunteer at a local bird shelter and then a certified aviculturist, after which she joined an informal network of experts. Raffin had found her calling, opening her home to a wide variety of birds. The author describes how, over the years, she has gained expertise in housing rare, endangered species—some of which have been illegally captured in the wild—and taken on the additional task of breeding them in captivity. Not only did the learning process prove “daunting,” it also required strategic planning—finding mates, “incubating eggs, hatching them, and caring for the babies.” By 2010, Pandemonium Aviaries, which had begun on a whim (fostering birds in need of a home), was a premier conservation-breeding operation playing an important global role in saving endangered species. “I've learned that their behavior is far more fascinating than their plumage…” writes the author, “and that 'birdbrain!' is the finest of compliments.”
A charming memoir about birds and the people who love them.