HARMONY — For Marg and Fritz Buschmann, home is where the parrots are.

Since 2006, the Buschmanns have used their house at 104 Brown Road in Harmony as a place to care for parrots and provide the birds a welcoming place to live out the rest of their years.

Siesta Sanctuary is where the Buschmann’s house 75 parrots from about 20 species, and where the couple Saturday hosted one of their triannual open houses.

“It’s a full-time job,” said Marg Buschmann, who began working with birds when she worked full time as a nurse and diabetes educator at Redington-Fairview General Hospital in Skowhegan.

A macaw is shown during an open house at the Siesta Sanctuary, Assisted Living for Retired Parrots on Saturday in Harmony Morning Sentinel photo by Abrahamson Buy this Photo

The parrots are split between three rooms, separated by their size, species and strength. A volunteer said some of the smaller parrots need be separated because they cannot defend themselves against the bigger birds.

“We’ve lived here since 1976, and got involved with parrots about 20 years ago,” Marg Buschmann said. “They’re just so cool. I’ve always been fascinated by them.”

Marg Buschmann says there is need for a permanent home for parrots because  they tend to live long lives. She said the birds can live from 10 to 80 years, depending on size and species. She said most of the parrots that come to Siesta Sanctuary are between 30 and 40 years old.

“We’re not taking anymore in right now — 75 is what we’re comfortable with,” Marg Buschmann said. “Taking care of the animals is very demanding and costs about $16,000 a year, or $45 a day to feed them.”

It is also challenging to find veterinary care for parrots because there is not an avian-certified veterinarian in Maine. And while some veterinarians will see and treat birds, the couple have learned to do a lot of their own veterinary care.

The parrots at Siesta Sanctuary are either rescues or pets whose owners can no longer care for them, according to Marg Buschmann. The couple also have two dogs, two cats, an emu, chickens, a llama, a pony and sheep.

About 100 guests visited the sanctuary Saturday and learned about the different species of birds and how they can mimic noises. With the help of volunteers, the visitors also got hands-on experience with macaws, cockatoos and other species of parrots.

“(I got involved) with the sanctuary in 2018,” Shannon Garcia, of Kennebunkport, said. “I had recently been diagnosed with cancer and, as a result, had a hysterectomy. I was very depressed and after meeting Marg and all of these birds that have been through trauma and abuse, I knew this was where I needed to be.

“These birds gave me purpose and meaning after I found out that I couldn’t be a mother.”

Garcia said she one day would like to open a retirement home for parrots.

Macaws are shown on Saturday during an open house at the Siesta Sanctuary, Assisted Living for Retired Parrots in Harmony. Morning Sentinel photo by Rich Abrahamson Buy this Photo

Jane Violette, of Milford, said she learned of the sanctuary from a flyer at a pet store. A parrot fanatic herself, Violette said she has 35 birds of her own, ranging from finches to parrots.

“After I went to an open house in 2018,” she said, “I knew that I wanted to do anything that I could to help out.”

Violette said she signed up to volunteer to help Marg and Fritz Buschmann find grant money to fund the sanctuary. Funding is hard to find because many grants are offered for cats and dogs.

The Buschmanns accept donations through the mail and their Facebook page to help offset the high cost of caring for the parrots.

Jason Bushey, of Skowhegan, was among the spectators Saturday afternoon. He said he heard about the event through friends and had recently become owner of a Moluccan cockatoo named Brandy.

“It’s going well so far,” Bushey said. “I’m learning more as I go with Brandy. Getting used to having her was a challenge for me because they can be aggressive,”

 

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