Sunday, July 03, 2005

Emma parrots ready for new home

The parrots are still squawking at The Gabriel Foundation in Emma, but they'll soon be leaving for their new home on the Front Range.

The nonprofit parrot sanctuary that cares and helps abandoned birds find homes is getting ready to move to 35 acres in Elbert County, southeast of Denver. The foundation, headed by parrot-lover Julie Murad, was cited for land-use violations at its property in Eagle County last year. Neighbors in Emma complained of noise from the foundation's birds.

Murad's 13-acre ranch is Emma is listed for $2.35 million, and building plans for a new facility on the Front Range are about a week from approval.

The organization closed on the property in Elbert County this spring, paying $1.25 million for the ranch with plans to build three separate buildings, a total of 12,000 square feet to house the parrots and provide for office space, a caretaker unit and a meeting room for potential parrot adopters.

The buildings will be connected by outdoor cages where the birds get exercise. The entire facility will be four times the size of the current one in Eagle County.

As soon as Murad gets approval from the building department next week, Burlstone Construction will begin the project. Birds will start the moving process - in cages, not on the wing - as soon as possible.

"We'll be moving them out to carriers and then transporting the cages down there," said Murad, who has already bought a house and moved to the town of Elizabeth.

The foundation is housing 135 birds both in its Eagle County location and in foster homes. The new facility will be able to maintain 250 birds in its first year, and then 350 in the future. Murad said Elbert County commissioners would have to approve additional parrots.

But caring for that many birds would also require more staff to maintain a certain human-to-bird-ratio.

The Gabriel Foundation will be launching a capital campaign to help with construction costs, she said. The new location is complete with rolling hills that should buffer the squawking sounds, she said.

The new 35-acre ranch was originally part of a large ranch that was subdivided into smaller parcels. Neighbors in the area use their parcels as ranches with horses and barns, and a large dog kennel is nearby.

Naomi Havlen's e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com

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