Irena Schulz

I wanted to write up an article about Irena Schulz of “Bird Lovers Only” Bird Rescue and home of Snowball the Dancing Cockatoo. But I know she has to do interviews and answer a myriad of questions about Snowball all of the time. I know Irena, having met her at the Midwest Bird Expo last year in The Chicago area. We’re both born and raised midwest people so we’re kind of on the same page sharing midwest values and a certain way of looking at things.

Well, you know, we’re from the same area…I think we both ate a lot of corn on the cob.

Irena is simply one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. She’s also really, really smart. She went to Purdue and majored in molecular biology. And of course now she’s messing around with birds. I know it’s off the subject, but what is it with all of these science majors ending up working with birds? Dr. Irene Pepperberg was a chemistry major and teaches at Harvard. Rita Sambruna used to work with Phoenix Landing and is currently a co-founder and director of the Animal Education Foundation. She’s a PhD astrophysicist. Umm, I think I see a theme here, but then there’s me which blows that theory all to hell…but I digress.

Irene and Irena

Anyway, I tried to do something a little different and came up with an interview that might be more interesting and off the beaten path. But to be honest, I think it drove her nuts because she couldn’t just cut and paste a pat answer to the usual questions. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even ask her any questions. I simply gave her the beginning of a sentence and asked her to finish it. So I assure you it wasn’t a snap to complete.  With no specific questions she really had to think about how she wanted to respond because she could have taken the remainder of the sentence in any direction. Irena was a good sport about it and did it for me anyway.

What you will see is the beginning of the sentences I sent to Irene in red. How she completed the sentences are in the normal colored type.

Believe me, this was not an easy interview to complete and I applaud Irena and thank her for putting up with such an unconventional Q & A. I hope you enjoy it.

Most days at work…don’t seem like work.

What I’d like to see…    (and When it comes to birds…)

Conservational breeding only.  I feel that birds belong in the skies, not our homes.  I understand that we cannot release birds into the wild because they have bonded with humans and many do not even want to interact with other birds.  The environment is not conducent to their survival because of climate and dietary needs, they have no survival techniques that can be learned from parents, and it’s simply against the law to release them outdoors.

Poaching will continue as long as people want these birds as pets in their homes.  Laws will continue to be broken no matter how well they are enforced.  Poaching continues because birds are in demand.  Do away with the demand, and you’ll soon do away with the need for supply.

My hope is to see bird owners give their pet birds the best life possible, but that breeding for captivity discontinue.  I am all for breeding to increase the numbers of species that are endangered or close to it, but there is a fine line that we walk when we breed for captivity in order to keep a species from extinction and breed for captivity as a marketable pet.

I also realize that we can’t always prevent the extinction of certain species.  Extinctions have occurred throughout history whether in the presence of man or not.  But because man is at least partly responsible for some extinctions, we feel the necessity to try to undo the damage by trying to proliferate the species.  I’m for those efforts as long as that’s a reason to breed ‘endangered’ birds and not a justification to continue captive breeding.

I’ve always strived… to be me.  It is better to be hated for who you are than to be loved for who you are not.

What we try to do… We do our best to rehome birds into a suitable environment as possible.  Prior to adoption we have them vet checked and treated when necessary.   Something that we have kept quiet is that we pay for other people’s vet costs in an emergency.  We keep a cap on what we contribute toward each individual case and each case is examined individually and ok’d as our budget allows.  We mostly do this around the Christmas holidays.  We contribute our portion directly to the vet.

I never thought…a bird would get VIP treatment in a hotel or that we’d be chased by paparrazi.

My best ideas…are never my own.  I am where I am because of a higher power, not because I am that clever.

Sometimes it bothers me…that I can’t wave a magic wand and have everyone treat each other and animals nicely and with respect.

I find it funny…that God has blessed me so abundantly, because I’m really not deserving of it.  Perhaps God needs new glasses…or maybe He’s just a whole lot nicer and more forgiving than all the rest of us put together.

For more information about Irena, Snowball and her rescue service,  please visit the Bird Lovers Only Rescue Service website here:

Bird Lovers Only

Located In Northwest Indiana

A 501(c)(3) Corporation