Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Sacred Scarlets – Scarlet Macaws: Big, Beautiful, Brilliant Birds

Sacred Scarlets – Scarlet Macaws:
Big, Beautiful, Brilliant Birds
by Amber Polo

After hundreds of years Scarlet Macaws can again be seen at the ancient pueblos of the Verde Valley. Their dazzling feathers catching the sun under the Arizona skies.


Remains of macaws have been documented in early archaeological excavations at both Montezuma Castle and Tuzigoot National Monuments. The birds were traded into the Verde Valley from hundreds of miles south in modern day Mexico. Substantial numbers of macaws were identified at Pueblo Bonito (Chaco Canyon) and Wupatki at least as early as 1,000 CE. The earliest date for Chaco (Pueblo Bonito) is approximately late 8th century to early 9th century. The date for Wupatki is approximately 1135-1195.

Kelley Taylor

At the age of five Kelley Taylor, founder of Sacred Scarlets, wrote a letter to Santa asking for a parrot. But she didn’t receive her first birds, three goldfinches, until her sixth birthday. Kelley says, her lifelong companionship with birds has "brought decades of joy, adventure, knowledge, and fun. I feel compelled to share this gift with the world through Sacred Scarlets and my beautiful Scarlet Macaw companions, Sedona  Rose and Bonita."

After a career in photography and working in Italy, Kelley adopted several large parrots and began to foster, rescue, rehab, and re-home others. Returning to Arizona she pursued her interest in the thick-billed parrots who once lived in the "Sky Islands” region of southeastern Arizona, southwestern New Mexico, and northwestern Mexico.  She's visited parrot sites in Mexico, volunteered with the Arizona-Soronran Desert Museum’s Raptor Free-Flight Program, researched the Scarlet Macaw in archaeology at the University of Arizona, and worked with parrot rescue organizations in Arizona. In 2010 Kelley founded Sacred Scarlets, now a 501(c)3.

Scarlet Macaws

Vivid red, yellow, blue, and green feathers make Scarlet Macaws the most brilliantly colored creatures on our planet with their unique red hues spanning ultraviolet to red. Scarlet Macaws are:

  • 32 inches long, with more than half the length in their tail
  • Weigh 2.2 lbs.
  • Mate for life
  • Fly 35 mph
  • Have dark red with metallic gold iridescence flight feathers
  • Possess red feather pigments produced only in parrots
  • May live 75 years in captivity
  • Endangered
Conservation and Education 
The birds of Sacred Scarlets serve as ambassadors for the protection of birds in the wild while acting as brilliant examples of macaws in the history of the American Southwest culture.

Macaws molt and feathers are replaced regularly. Kelley donates feathers to Hopi carvers for their kachinas.

Kelley facilitates rescue with fosters and sanctuaries and urges all potential parrot owners to learn about these intelligent birds before obtaining one from a reputable breeder or rescue.  Macaws mature slowly and require a deep commitment to the human-bird bond and long-term responsibility in attention, nutrition, and behavior training. Kelley is available to consult on parrot training and behavior problems.

See the Sacred Scarlets birds and hear about Scarlet Macaws and their history:
Tuzigoot National Monument (Clarkdale, AZ) -  Monthly demonstrations  Regular fees apply. 928-567-3322 x223
Montezuma Castle National Monument ( Camp Verde, AZ)  Regular fees apply 928-567-3322 x 0  

Sacred Scarlets, Scarlet Macaw Conservation
Kelley Taylor, Sacred Scarlets, Founder & President
Sacred Scarlets, P.O. Box 3543,Cottonwood, AZ 86326

Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Wolves of Medicine Wheel Lodge

The Wolves of Medicine Wheel Lodge
by Amber Polo

HealingWolf’s Medicine Wheel Lodge is a magical place. On ancient land once a sacred gathering place for Native Americans, later Morgan Earp's stagestop, a school, a home, and, for the last seventeen years, a sanctuary for wolves. 

Healing Wolf believes wolves are our teachers. She has raised Gray Wolves, Arctic Wolves, Timber Wolves, and now Tundra Wolves. Iroquois on her mother's side, HealingWolf received her name from her father when at a young age he found her healing a wolf. Since then wolves and all wildlife seek her out. She believes herself privileged to have worked with wolves since rescuing her first wolf in Tennessee. 

Honoring all tribes, traditions, and relations, HealingWolf is foremost a teacher.
She and her husband Jon Bickis established Medicine Wheel Lodge in Rimrock, Arizona as a gathering place for people to slow down, learn, share, and heal, interacting with these magnificent ambassadors of nature.

The Wolves of Medicine Wheel Lodge 
  • Dakota, after serious abuse at a fur farm, came to Medicine Wheel Lodge from a shelter where he would have been euthanized. Rescued at 1 1/2 years, he’s had serious medical issues but is now a huge healthy adult male who’s learned he is safe forever.
  • Kira, an abused female now 6, has slowly overcome her fear of men and serious distress issues.
  • Mahota and Jhertoma (Tundra wolves) were rescued as 4 month-old-pups after their mother was killed. With no history of human abuse, they are true ambassadors of wolf magic.

    All four wolves came to HealingWolf through an informal network of wolf rescuers.

Education for Animal Rescue
HealingWolf considers herself a voice for animals and dreams of a time when all animals wild and domestic are safe. A supporter of wolf reintroduction and all forms of animal rescue, she speaks strongly against the breeding of wolves and wolfdogs for pets and sale. Wolves and part-wolves are not pets. You can’t “own” any wild animal. She urges people who want an amazing companion to seek a needy one in their local shelter.

Caring for wolves and wolfdogs is difficult and expensive. Veterinary care must come to you and surgeries are difficult. Wolves and wolfdogs are not dogs and can easily escape ordinary pens. She has erected heavy 10-foot-high fenced runs with double gates and concrete bases 3 feet into the ground and provided dens. Keeping them healthy and safe is ongoing full time work.

HealingWolf urges all who love wolves to support rescue groups run by those who are doing the work of preserving wolves in the wild and caring for all animals in captivity who can never survive in the wild. 

Visits to Medicine Wheel Lodge
Visitors and retreat groups from all over the world and people of all beliefs open their hearts to animals. HealingWolf and her wolves teach respect and love for all wild and domestic animals through physical interactions. 

For more information about Medicine Wheel Lodge and Native American Sacred Hoop (the 501(c)3 non-profit). Donations are appreciated for rescue, food, and veterinary care, as well as educational work. 

To schedule a visit to Medicine Wheel Lodge in Rimrock, AZ call (928) 592-0588 or email (All visits are scheduled to the best benefit of the wolves.)


Published in another form in the August-September 2017 issue of the Flagstaff-Sedona Dog.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Guide Dogs for the Blind & Doris McFadden - 75 Years of Loving Dogs

 Doris McFadden & Guide Dogs for the Blind

In 1942 long time Camp Verde, Arizona resident Doris McFadden lived in Richmond, California. A 12-year-old dog crazy girl, she helped at a Dalmatian kennel near her home. The kennel owner gave her the opportunity to learn about the world of dogs. At a San Francisco dog show she heard about the new organization called Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB). At the time GDB accepted dogs to be trained and Doris even wanted to donate her own pet to the program.
The Dalmatian kennel’s owner brought two young pups into her home and Doris came daily to care for a 2-month-old Belgian Shepherd. From this solid beginning her love of dogs and dog training blossomed. Doris says, "It was a great experience. And taught me responsibility and stimulated my serious interest in dogs."

In June Doris traveled back to California to be honored by Guide Dogs for the Blind during their  75th (1942-2017) Anniversary celebration. She toured their facility and was participated in puppy socialization, met volunteers and toured the campus. She had lunch with staff, including a class supervisor trainer, where she asked questions and shared her history of dog training and Guide Dogs for the Blind.

In 1942 when wounded servicemen were returning from World War II, Guide Dogs for the Blind was the first West Coast school to train guide dogs. GDB has provided 14,000 guide dog teams (2,200 currently active) and 1,015,000 volunteer hours of service at no cost to students.

A key part of GDB’s program is volunteer puppy raisers and puppy raiser clubs. Pups aged 2-14 months live in a home and learn about the world. Puppy raisers receive a pup at approximately 8 weeks old and teach the puppy good manners and basic obedience in a home environment. CocoPups of Flagstaff is a GDB puppy raiser club. Their members expose pups to a wide variety of experiences including puppy socialization parties, public transportation, city traffic, even a Diamondbacks game.

Back in California after formal training in guide work learning over 35 commands, such as “Find the Door,” successful dogs begin a residential course with their blind partner. GDB estimates it costs about $40,000 to graduate a team. After that GDB provides lifetime support.

Over the years, Doris owned many dogs and trained even more for others in the Verde Valley. She taught dog obedience in Camp Verde and competed in trials most recently with her Australian Shepherd, and became active in Greyhounds of the Verde Valley after adopting a retired racing Greyhound.

Her interest in animals includes wolf advocacy. She serves on Board of Directors of the U.S. Wolf Refuge in Sparks, Nevada and helps with visitors at the Medicine Wheel Lodge wolf refuge in Rimrock.

Seventy-five years after training that pup for GDB, Doris is still dog crazy and still teaching owners to train their dogs. Although Doris’s pup never graduated, the Guide Dogs for the Blind’s CocoPups of Flagstaff puppy raising group recently honored Doris with a pin awarded to a puppy raiser when their dog returns to San Rafael for formal training.

Amber Polo

A form of this article was published in the June-July 2017 issue of the Flagstaff-Sedona Dog.