The Birds of Pandemonium tells the story of how Michele Raffin went from trying to rescue a dove by the roadside to running Pandemonium Aviaries as a non-profit organization successful in breeding rare birds. Along the way, she tells the stories of a number of the birds that have shared her life, giving glimpses of their rich emotional lives.
The book is a double biography: There is Raffin’s story as she moves from trying to rescue one bird to acquiring six ringneck doves and on to a yard full of birds and a dedication to breeding endangered species. There is also the story of the aviary itself, complete with its many inhabitants. Both strands of the story are engrossing. Raffin is a dedicated woman who cares about helping animals and ends up almost accidentally acquiring a full aviary which she and her family run. There is nothing accidental about the amount of care that goes into running the aviary, however, nor about the careful research, contacts with other breeders, and learning about bird housing that happens. After one of her first pigeon dies, possibly from being separated from his mate, she is “determined that there would be no more death by ignorance in my house.” Her dedication to giving the birds possible accommodation and care ultimately leads to her establishing the aviary as a successful breeding place for rare birds.
The real charmers are the birds she introduces her readers to. There is Sweetie, the inexpensive coturnix quail found left behind in a brown bag in a grocery store and probably intended for someone’s dinner, who becomes a sociable, outgoing star in the aviary and teaches Raffin about bird communication. There’s Amigo, the Amazon who bites everyone who comes near him—until the day he picks his cage lock in order to reach the person he’s chosen. And then there is Harli, the lorikeet with a Jersey accent. The book also comes with several full-color plates featuring the birds described in the book, so you’ll know some of these characters by sight..
There’s plenty to laugh about, cry about, and think about all through The Birds of Pandemonium. Recommended for readers who want to learn about birds, enjoy humor, or want to sit down with a well-written non-fiction book of any subject.
Publisher: Algonquin Books (October 7, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1616201363 ISBN-13: 978-1616201364