A local bird lover who said she was accustomed to people ask others to watch their dog or cat while they went on vacation once wondered, "Wait a minute...who's going to take care of my birds if I go away?" It was this idea that led to the creation of her now one-year-old business, The Bird Sitter.
Tricia Boodoo, 34, of St Joseph has loved animals since she was a child. She told Newsday that growing up, she had dogs and some parrots. She was also a volunteer at the El Soccorro Wildlife Centre for about three years, where she did a course in wildlife rehabilitation.
As an adult, she continued to have birds as pets but all of them are rescues. She has a blue and gold macaw, an orange-winged Amazon parrot, a white-tailed cockatiel and a black-headed caique.
Funnily, the parrot's name is Parrot and the cockatiel's name is Bird.
She also cares for and rehabilitates injured birds to re-release them into the wild.
She currently has two such parrots, one her mother calls Semo and the other who she calls 'The Lonely Traveler' as he just showed up in her yard one day.
"I learnt a lot from the (wildlife) course but a lot of the things were learnt from experience in taking care of birds."
She said she was talking to a friend who lives in Canada last year and told her, "You always seeing somewhere looking for people to board their cat or dog, but no one asks about a bird. What do you think?"
She said her friend loved the idea and offered her support in beginning the journey of being a bird-sitter.
"A lot of people liked the page and ask questions about things they want to find out about birds.
"I got a parrot a couple of days ago because his family was going to a beach house, for instance. I'm hoping it catches on and picks up."
She has wildlife licenses for all the birds she owns. The Conservation of Wildlife Act requires that people have permits to own certain birds, including orange-winged Amazon parrots and macaws.
In addition, it says, "No person shall clip or cause to be clipped the wings of a protected bird or in any way mutilate or cause to be mutilated any protected animal or bird in order to prevent it from escaping from its cage when opened."
Boodoo told Newsday, "One of the questions they do ask is how you obtain the animal. They try to eliminate people getting them through the illegal wildlife trade. They have the authority to seize that animal.
"Sometimes the cage that they (owners) have the animal in...then they have no toys or anything. People need to remember that yes it is a bird but they're smart. You can let them out and let them move around more a bit."
She said she also tries using her social media page (The Bird Sitter TT on Facebook) to educate people about birds.
"People are always saying they feed baby parrots milk and bread. Unfortunately, parrots don't have the enzymes like us to digest dairy and bread really offers no nutritional value at all.
"You might hear someone say, 'Well, I feed my bird milk and bread for so long and it alive.' Yeah, but they get malnourished, they develop internal issues and stuff like that."
Her rates start at $30 daily for parrots and small birds and can go up to $40-$45 for bigger birds.
"It's not mandatory for the person to bring their own food but it's recommended, because it would be what the bird is acustomed to. But I feed birds a mixture of seeds and fruits."
But the damaged, wild birds she may take in, for instance, "know nothing about sunflower seeds and stuff. All they know is fruits so I try my best to give that to them and help them out enough until they can be free.
"They're free to stay here on my fruit trees once they are released but the idea is for them to be strong enough to return to the wild, to what they know."
Anyone interested in contacting Boodoo can do so by messaging the Facebook page, The Bird Sitter TT.