To read part one first, click here.
Suzanne’s life journey led her on to Taos, New Mexico, as a facilitator for a new age workshop center, where she met many spiritual seekers and learned to see the many diverse ways that spirit works through us all.
With a life-long fascination for birds and feathers, and an artistic bent, Suzanne started making feather fans out of the feathers of birds who, sadly, had been killed on the roads – with absolutely no idea that this was illegal, until someone told her that all parts of native wild birds are federally-protected.
She switched to making the feather fans out of legally designated feathers from peacocks and other exotic birds (no birds were ever harmed for her artwork); she made a successful living by creating and selling beautiful feather fans.
At the same time, she began to volunteer at a wildlife center, near Espanola, New Mexico, that took in orphaned and injured wildlife from all over the state. The licensed wildlife rehabilitator there was also a veterinarian. At first Suzanne simply transported the injured or orphaned birds from wherever they had been found back to the wildlife center. As time went by, she was able to be more and more helpful, holding the birds for the veterinarian and assisting her in a number of ways. She picked up a fair amount of medical knowledge along the way. She volunteered there for twelve years, and when not helping the vet, she was busy feeding baby birds, especially in the spring and summer. Eventually, she was on the Board of Directors. A highlight of being in New Mexico was the trips to the Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge where many of the rehabilitated raptors were released and where the sandhill cranes and snow geese winter every year. Their boisterous comings and going delighted Suzanne beyond measure.
Before the turn of the millenium, Suzanne found herself of a trip of a lifetime to Zambia and Botswana to witness the glory of Africa’s wild animals deep in the bush country. Riding on horseback, allowed game viewing at an extrordinary close range, and giraffe, elephants and eland mingled with the “odd” herd of horses. The creation of such a wilderness touched Suzanne with a deep humility and respect for Nature in it’s purest sense. It touched her at a cellular level, as it has done to many visitors before her.
Moving to southern Utah, she again worked with birds, first as one of the caregivers, then later as manager of a center caring for wildlife in rehabilitation and also (in a separate section), homeless and neglected parrots. A licensed wildlife rehabilitator was there too, to rehabilitate and release the wild birds and animals.
During her eight years there, she was able to make vast improvements for the birds and animals — making use of her interior design talents and working with an architect, she re-designed the entire center, attracting funding from grants to meet the expenses. She got the parrots into outside aviaries, where they could fly and climb under the radiant blue Utah skies. The wildlife benefited too. An educational gazebo was set up. Near the large flight aviary for birds of prey, an enclosure was constructed for native wild cats in rehabilitation.
Over the years, there was a lot more traveling too, always to visit wild places and their inhabitants. Argentina, with its penguins, flamingoes, seals and inland guanacos, armadillos, and capybaras; the coral reefs in the British Virgin Islands, Hawaii, Thailand, and Mexico.
In the winter of 2006, in Egypt, Suzanne became aware of the difficult lives of donkeys, used and overworked on the congested streets of Cairo as they were all over the middle East. She visited several rescues, mostly funded by the British, who were made aware of the problem long ago.
With the World Parrot Trust, she went on an amazing tour of Bali, New Guinea, and Sulawesi, where they spotted countless varieties of parrots; cockatoos, eclectus parrots, palm cockatoos, and half a dozen varieties of birds of paradise. It was fascinating to observe their living habits; like those of the bower birds who create elaborate houses for their mates. One male bower bird loved blue, and his house was decorated entirely with blue berries and blue flowers. Another was into green. It was a beautiful experience to watch the birds flying free, choosing their own mates, and living in the wild, just as nature intended.
On a two-week tour to Guyana, with New England Exotic Wildlife, through the jungles, up and down rather exhausting, narrow mountain paths through the rainforest, they saw and heard wild amazons, scarlet macaws, harpy eagles and the eerie call of howler monkeys late into the night.
Suzanne now resides in the hill country outside Austin, TX, with her feline family and a treasured group of close friends nearby. She is once again on the flyway of the sandhill cranes and the last group of whooping cranes as they winter in the Aransas Wildlife Refuge in southern Texas.
This December, Suzanne will be visiting Costa Rica. The ARA Project is setting up a community of residents who will live there; this will generate income to support a project breeding and releasing scarlet macaws back into the jungle to live out their lives in freedom. Like many central and south American parrots, their habitat has been fragmented, and they are threatened. It has been hard to successfully raise and release parrots to go back into the jungle; we wish the scarlet macaws and the project much success. We look forward to hearing all about how this is going from Suzanne when she returns.
© Coalition for American Wildbirds, 2014
Top photo: © Frank Schulenburg / CC-BY-SA-3.0 / “This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.” / Wikimedia Commons / American White Pelican.
Second photo: Ikiwaner / “Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 only as published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled GNU Free Documentation License.” / Wikimedia Commons / Female African elephants.
Third photo: Raymund James Bare / “This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.” / Wikimedia Commons / An adult male Eclectus parrot.