Parrot sanctuary to fly the coop |

Parrot sanctuary to fly the coop

Scott Condon
"Shhhhh," says Gabriel Foundation adoption coordinator Judy Hampton as she gently pets Homer, an Umbrella cockatoo native to Australia, after she took him out of his cage Friday afternoon January 30, 2004. "Some birds like to be petted and held, "she says, "while others just want to bite." Aspen Times photo/ Paul Conrad.

A unique parrot sanctuary has decided to leave the Roaring Fork Valley rather than continue its struggle for land-use approvals from Eagle and Pitkin counties.Gabriel Foundation founder and president Julie Murad decided the cages required to reduce noise to acceptable levels for neighbors and Eagle County officials were unacceptable for the birds she shelters, according to Terrell Knight, a land-use planner working for the foundation.Murad is looking for an alternative site in Colorado or elsewhere in the United States to relocate the aviary. “She is committed to the Gabriel Foundation and the birds,” Knight said.

Eagle County planner Cliff Simonton said the Gabriel Foundation withdrew its application for construction of a new 4,800-square-foot aviary and to legalize some of its existing facilities at 2101 Emma Road earlier this summer. Attorneys for the foundation and county are working on a settlement that would give the foundation a set amount of time to vacate its facilities.The foundation is located on land that is divided between Pitkin and Eagle counties. Both counties cited the foundation for operating facilities that weren’t permitted at the site.Murad was hounded by neighbors who complained the parrots were a nuisance when they were taken to outdoor cages in warm weather. They claimed the noise dropped the value of their property.

But the sanctuary also had hundreds of supporters who praised its mission of adopting abandoned birds and either placing them for adoption or caring for them long term. Few other facilities of the type exist in the world.No agreement has been approved yet, but the sanctuary likely will have until sometime early in 2005 to vacate, according to Simonton.The Gabriel Foundation was originally located at a former veterinary clinic at Gerbazdale but was ordered off the site by Pitkin County in the late 1990s. Murad bought a home and land in Emma and relocated there in 1999. She was cited again for land-use violations by both counties in June 2003.

Murad was trying to legalize the operation on the Eagle County portion of her property, but hearings with the planning commission and county commissioners proved she would have to take extensive steps to try to limit the noise from the parrots.”I’m extremely disappointed they didn’t work out a solution because I think one was there,” said Knight.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is