LOCAL NEWS

Overwhelmed bird sanctuary seeks donations

Apr 8, 2018, 10:06 PM | Updated: Apr 9, 2018, 3:05 pm

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah — Taking in patients is part of Richard Nowak’s business.  His latest emergency is confined to a small, gray shoe box.

“Let’s have a look at this little guy,” he says, dipping his hands in and pulling out a baby dove, found on the ground by a woman who’d rushed the animal straight to Nowak.  “Poor guy’s got a hurt elbow and a scratch on his back.”

Richard Nowak reaches into a shoe box to find his latest patient, a baby dove. April 3, 2018. Photo: Ray Boone

Nowak’s facility isn’t a vet’s office, and he’s not a veterinarian.  His surroundings are more like a circus, with Nowak serving as ringmaster.

Nearly a hundred adult birds live in and around four buildings on a small piece of property in West Valley — the cries of roosters, turkeys, and every other bird you can imagine fills the air.  Nowak says surrounding himself with these animals has been a lifelong goal.

“I had my first bird when I was six,” he said.  “I started with a parakeet, and then I had parrots.  From there, once I had my own home, then we had chickens and geese and ducks.”

Nowak sprouted wings, and never once looked down.

“He likes to have his ear rubbed,” he said, as he scratched the side of a peacock’s head.

Nowak found a job working at an aviary, where he saw entire flocks with no place to turn.

“We would see many people bring birds in, and there was nowhere else to take them,” he said.  “So we would find the birds left in the parking lot, or the next day they’d be thrown over the fence.”

The aviary wasn’t allowed to take in injured or homeless birds, so Nowak decided he would.

Swans at ASAP Utah in West Valley City. April 3, 2018. Photo: Ray Boone

“The swans in particular were on a complex with an HOA,” he said, gesturing to a small pond on his property.  “They’d been there for decades, and the board decided they didn’t want to pay the maintenance on the birds.  So they were trying to find somebody to take the birds before they were euthanized.”

Nowak doesn’t have any formal training.  With the help of the aviary’s extensive library, he’s self-taught.  Judging by the improving conditions of his patients, all his studying paid off.

“We have one in the back that came in missing almost all of his feathers,” he said, pointing to a small parrot called a “conure,” which sits quietly on a perch.

Richard Nowak smiles while holding a parrot at ASAP Utah in West Valley City. April 3, 2018. Photo: Ray Boone

He continued, “The lady that had this bird was feeding the bird Pepsi and candy and an improper diet.  The bird was pretty high-strung, seemed to be really stressed out.  So first we put him in a suit, trying to get him to stop plucking himself.  After he chewed off two suits, he’s decided to grow feathers, so we don’t have to put clothes on him again.”

Nowak helped found a colony for mistreated or unwanted feathered friends, called ASAP Utah, standing for “Avian Sanctuary and Protection.”

With the help of his board and a group of volunteers, his goal is to rehabilitate his birds, then find them homes so he can free up some space.

His doors opened in 2010, and he believes his is the only bird-only sanctuary in the state.

Nowak says his services are vital, and he even gets calls for assistance from other states.

His habitat runs on donations, which was just fine for a fledgling operation — but after eight years, it’s crying out for help.

“The first year, we only took in 72 birds,” Nowak said.  “This past year, we have records for 961.”

Local ordinances dictate how many birds Richard can keep around at a time.  As his facility became more well-known, birds began coming in every day.  He’d like to purchase a neighboring property, but without more donations, he says he can’t expand.

“We just have to say ‘Sorry, we can’t take them,'” Nowak said.

But baby birds like the small dove in the shoe box are relying on Richard.

Richard Nowak feeds a baby dove at ASAP Utah in West Valley. April 3, 2018. Photo: Ray Boone

“Get some medication on that, and let him heal up, and it’s probably be another week or so and he’s gonna be trying to fly,” he said, after applying some antibiotics to its back.

So while the place may look like a circus, the ringmaster will keep running his show — until he can find a slightly bigger big top.

“It makes me happy to help these animals, because they can’t speak for themselves,” Nowak said.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

Attendees at the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Conference Center for the second d...
Eliza Pace & Ladd Egan

18 new temples announced during October 2022 General Conference

The locations of 18 new temples were announced during the 192nd Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
17 hours ago
The 2-mile, 20-hole disc golf course at Goblin Valley State Park was renovated recently and is now ...
Brooke Williams

Newly renovated disc golf course at Goblin Valley State Park is open

 The sandstone "hoodoo" formations designated in Goblin Valley State Park are part of a disc golf course, which was recently renovated and is now open, just in time for spooky season.
17 hours ago
The crowd gathering at Washington Square to march to the Utah Capitol....
Brittany Tait

Crowd marched to Utah State Capitol in solidary with Iran

A large crowd marched from Washington Square to the steps of the Utah State Capitol on Saturday to show solidarity for those suffering in Iran.
2 days ago
Attendees at the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Conference Center....
Michael Houck & Ladd Egan

Day One of 192nd Semi-annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Tens of thousands gathered in downtown Salt Lake City Saturday for the 192nd Semi-annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
2 days ago
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints volunteers help clean up and repair the aftermath of Hurricane Ia...
Mike Anderson

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints members help clean up the aftermath of Hurricane Ian

"As horrible as natural disasters are, you see the best of humanity," Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints members gather in Florida to help clean up the mess Hurricane Ian left behind.
2 days ago
Denali Stubbs, preparing his bike for the upcoming race....
Alex Cabrero

Hildale high school bike team participates in regional race

"I just want to do the same for these kids:” a Hillside parent hopes to encourage teens in his community to dream bigger by getting involved in sports.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Ask these questions before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Cloud storage technology with 3d rendering drawer with files in cloud...
PC Laptops

How backing up your computer can help you relieve stress

Don't wait for something bad to happen before backing up your computer. Learn how to protect your data before disaster strikes.
young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
Types of Computer Malware and Examples...
PC Laptops

5 Nasty Types of Computer Malware and Examples | Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Computer and Family Safe

Here are the different types of computer malware and examples that could potentially infect your computer.
Overwhelmed bird sanctuary seeks donations