For the birds: Chris ‘Birdman’ Driggins

Vancouver man grows NW Bird Rescue and Parrots for Patriots program

VANCOUVER — If you ever have lunch at the Subway off 136th Avenue in Vancouver, you might see a peculiar and amazing site: a man ordering lunch with a large parrot resting on his shoulder.

This man is long-time exoctic bird rescuer, Chris “Birdman” Driggins. The nickname he’s carried for over 20 years.

 

Chris “Birdman” Driggins holds Goldy, a rescued 19-year-old Moluccan Cockatoo. Photo by Jacob Granneman
Chris “Birdman” Driggins holds Goldy, a rescued 19-year-old Moluccan Cockatoo. Photo by Jacob Granneman

 

“I just wanted to share the wealth,” Driggins said. ”From how birds can keep you busy, from teaching them tricks, teaching them how to talk, giving them the right diet … There’s nothing better than a bird, nothing!”   

Driggins began rescuing birds in the 1980s, after “just wanting a parrot at first.” Shortly thereafter, he formed Northwest Bird Rescue and began taking in birds from people in the community as well as saving wild birds.

His goal: re-home the birds with people that will be their “forever home,” as he says.

A veteran of the U.S. Airborne himself, Driggins noticed many of those keeping the birds the longest were his fellow veterans.

Two rescued Macaws play together in the NW Bird Rescue aviary. Any of these birds are available to adopt through the Parrots for Patriots program. Photo by Jacob Granneman
Two rescued Macaws play together in the NW Bird Rescue aviary.
Any of these birds are available to adopt through the Parrots for Patriots program. Photo by Jacob Granneman

After taking in two birds from an Oregon vet who had passed away, he had an idea. In that moment, he said he decided to form the Parrots for Patriots branch of his exotic bird rescue organization.

The program has since taken off, and many veterans now home birds and adopt new ones from Driggins. As companions, birds can serve as incredible therapy animals for veterans suffering from PTSD.

“It’s not about the money.” Chris said. “It’s about helping somebody distinguish the ghosts inside of them. Helping to put light on that ghost so he’s not invisible all the time. That bird brings light into their life.”

Chris Sandin, a veteran and volunteer with Parrots for Patriots, holds a rescue bird among many exotic parrots inside the aviary at Chris Driggins’ bird sanctuary. Photo by Jacob Granneman
Chris Sandin, a veteran and volunteer with Parrots for Patriots, holds a rescue bird among many exotic parrots inside the aviary at Chris Driggins’ bird sanctuary. Photo by Jacob Granneman

Due to their incredible lifespans of often 80- to 100-years-old, parrots can outlive other more typical animal companions such as dogs.

Subsequently, finding long-term homes for the dozens upon dozens of birds that come through Driggins’ home and aviary every week, is a significant challenge. Whenever someone adopts or calls to have a bird rescued, Driggins has a special way of telling them ‘thank you.’

I have a bucket or a tub, and when someone helps with the adoption or rescue of a bird, I tell them, ‘put your hand in there and grab as many as you can.’ Then right as their hand goes in I say, ‘don’t let it bite you,’ just to mess with them. Then they pull out a handful of Lifesaver candies, and I tell them, ‘You’re a lifesaver,’ Driggins said.

Parrots for Patriots is now operating and accepting applications for adoption, over the phone at (360) 247-3626 or through their new website at http://parrotsforpatriots.com/.

Chris Driggins holds his first ever rescue bird, Caesar, (left) and a special needs Macaw named Sunshine (right) inside the aviary he built for NW Bird Rescue and Parrots for Patriots. Photo by Jacob Granneman
Chris Driggins holds his first ever rescue bird, Caesar, (left) and a special needs Macaw named Sunshine (right) inside the aviary he built for NW Bird Rescue and Parrots for Patriots. Photo by Jacob Granneman
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About The Author

Jacob Granneman is a filmmaker and writer from Clark County. He is a graduate of Washington State University’s Edward R. Murrow College, where he studied journalism and media production. He has produced documentary stories all over the Pacific Northwest and abroad in Argentina. His passions range from sharing the love of Jesus, to cinematography, to going on adventures in the most beautiful place on earth, i.e. his backyard. He lives with his wife in Vancouver, WA. Proverbs 16:3

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