Michele Raffin was a suburban California mom who’d finally signed up to join a gym when, to her dismay, her personal trainer was extremely late for their session. When he finally arrived, he had a good reason for the delay: He’d come across a wounded bird by the side of the freeway. In what would become a life-changing moment, Raffin met that dove and tried to save it. And though it didn’t survive, she found herself a few days later responding to a newspaper ad seeking someone to rescue another dove. Her course in life was set.
Today Pandemonium Aviaries (her kids chose the name) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to breeding bird species that hover on the edge of extinction. Through Raffin’s fascinating account, we get a glimpse of the challenges of breeding wild birds in captivity. We follow her story of how one bird led to another, and another, and we learn what it takes to bear the responsibility for hundreds of living creatures.
Along the way, we meet some endearing personalities including Sweetie, a tiny quail left in a paper bag at a supermarket on its way to become someone’s dinner, and Oscar, a flightless Lady Gouldian finch with an indomitable will to survive.
As Raffin (and her family) become increasingly committed to rescuing and caring for birds, they realize that their charges require ever more specialized knowledge and care. Slowly but surely, and not without some heartbreaking setbacks, Raffin takes her place in the rarefied world of aviculture. Her sanctuary is now known for its success in breeding vulnerable species such as the lovely blue Victoria crowned pigeon of New Guinea.
Packed with dramatic incidents and unforgettable characters, both avian and human, The Birds of Pandemonium is the engaging story of one woman’s journey and her commitment to conservation.