Compassionate Care For Your Bird Begins Here!
At Under My Wing, you and your feathered friend will receive Five Star care. Whether you wish to have a one-on-one consultation to discuss the responsibilities of a parrot owner, need avian disease testing performed on a new bird being brought into the home, or desire grooming or boarding services for a beloved family pet, the safety and happiness of your bird is always paramount. With over 15 years experience tending to the daily needs of hundreds of birds, we are uniquely qualified to address any concern you may have, including wound care, plucking issues or diet adjustments.
Meet Our Team
Paula N Ashfield
Founder and Executive Director
Paula established the first and only exotic bird sanctuary in northern New Jersey called “Under My Wing Avian Refuge” in 2007.
Paula was born in Italy and came to the United States with her family at age 11. Married to Thomas Scott Ashfield (Scott) in 1999, she and her husband now live in Wantage, NJ.
Prior to her undertakings with the birds, Paula served for 7 years as VP of Operations for a medium-sized electrical company in Fairfield, NJ. In 2000, she left the company to start her own business as a freelancer for office restructuring and accounting from manual to Quick Books and doing quite well. However, Paula retired shortly after she married and in 2006 she opened a bird care center she called “The Cherished Nest”, a boarding and grooming center. As the need arose, Paula found many bird owners needing to relinquish birds, and after 29 intakes, she changed the structure of her small company to a rescue center.
Among the initial 29 birds a Moluccan Cockatoo, named Aldo, like many other surrendered birds who were neglected by their owners, was suffering from multiple health issues; these included an untreated 6-year-old leg fracture, an infection, and liver problems. Once at the rescue, Aldo received immediate veterinary care and was carefully monitored. However, his condition deteriorated rapidly and at the last of several emergency veterinary visits he was confirmed to be in critical condition. Aldo died later that day with his head under his stretched out wing.
Upon Aldo’s death, Paula restructured the rescue to a sanctuary to accommodate the needs of those exotic birds that clearly require special care and permanency. The nonprofit organization “Under My Wing Avian Refuge”, was named in honor of Aldo.
The By Laws Paula had formed in detailing that this organization was not a rescue with adoptions but a safe haven for birds and that the organization would aid in the rescue of birds.
By 2009, the rented house in Franklin had become too small for the increasing number of surrenders in addition to birds who came in from hoarding and other NJSPCA cases. More room, both indoors and out, was desperately needed and in March 2010 the Ashfields purchased a 10.5-acre site in Wantage, NJ that would accommodate both their private residence, adequate larger quarters for the birds to live in temporarily until the first sanctuary facility building would be built.
Paula, a welcome and valued member of the community, variously assisting the NJSPCA, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, St. Hubert’s, and other Associated Humane Societies.
The bird population at the NJ sanctuary continued to grow as there was no other avian rescue in the area, and Paula’s reputation as a competent and compassionate exotic bird caregiver spread within and beyond the community. The stories of these birds were universally sad – in some cases their owners had died, were facing foreclosure, or had become physically or financially unable to care for their beloved birds, others had been abandoned or abused, and still others were unmanageable, often due to “poor parenting” on the part of their owners. Turning away these precious “rescue” birds proved impossible for Paula, since two other rescues had moved out of State.
The task of settling in on the new property was not easy. Along with meeting the many township requirements for receiving a certificate of occupancy and the personal cost of bringing the property up to codes came a series of tremendous setbacks continually for three years including a furnace puff-back that sent soot throughout the house, including the birds’ quarters. Soon after renovations were completed, there was additional damage and more renovations from flood and wind damage from Hurricane Irene hitting hard followed by Storm Sandy, which has left no untouched lives in New Jersey.
Even during these tremendously hard times, Under My Wing Avian Refuge was able to assist with temporary bird care for families who needed to relocate to temporary shelter and those who were left with no electricity, and some who just needed to re-establish their live without the concern of caring for their birds. Paula’s passion and devotion to the birds lead her to establish educational programs for parrot owners, open a youth program, parents and kids days, along with other ongoing programs, which benefit the birds and community at large.
Her plans for the building, specifically designed in the best interest of the birds had to include radiant heat, full plumbing and septic (3,200 sq ft Flex Space) with kitchen, half bath and office space, along with two overhead automatic garage doors and three main doors. To assure the bird’s are protected from intruders and fire, the building has been equipped with an ADT security system, in addition to emergency interior and exterior lighting. The builiding is wired and ready for indoor and outdoor camera system.
Paula was ecstatic to move and finally see the birds in this fabulous large building in the spring of 2019
Who We Are
Paula, as well as all members of this organization, is dedicated to the morally and ethically responsible treatment of animals in our local community, State, and Nation.
The primary purpose is to provide the birds with proper housing, optimum care, and the companionship of a flock and people.
Serving and fulfilling the needs of behaviorally and physically challenged birds, sick and elderly birds, and birds with history of abuse, neglect, abandoned, neurotic and emotionally scarred for life.
We do not foster our exotic birds. Rather, we have them live at the refuge where we assume full responsibility for their well-being for the remainder of their natural lives.
Paula assures that the personal relations between the bird and the individual, who either were forced to give up their beloved birds due to unfortunate personal circumstances or chose to relinquish is well maintained. For these cases, Paula has worked with each individual to arrange visitations with their birds at the refuge, periodically sends e-mails, videos and photos of the bird(s) and has even build accommodations in her home to make sure that out of State individuals are able to stay overnight when visiting their bird. This mitigates the pain of loss and allows for individuals to continue to share in the lives of the birds they so much have loved.
Under My Wing does NOT:
- Adopt out birds
- Utilize a foster system
- Make use of birds for commercial or entertainment purposes
- Sell, trade, or breed birds
Under My Wing makes a continual and significant difference in the lives of the birds entrusted to our care and fills to capacity the mission set forth in our bylaws by strengthening the weak areas of our operation, and expand operations not to exceed beyond our means. As well as implementing a strategic plan intended to meet all programmatic, organizational, operational, and community efforts.
Our model is inherited from the American Sanctuary Association policies and procedures and, through our demonstrated excellence of care, play a leadership role in our community and State in promoting the socially, morally, and ethically responsible treatment of exotic birds. Thus, Under My Wing exists to provide captive birds with individualized care, the companionship of a flock, and the opportunity to live out their lives in a safe free flight and open cage haven dedicated to their well-being. Through education and public awareness, we seek to alleviate animals suffering and help eliminate use of exotic birds as pets and their exploitation in show business. We additionally seek to alleviate over-burdening of parrot rescues by de-emphasizing public-targeted appeals for adoptions of captive-bred birds, which often have the unintended consequences of increasing bird abuse and hoarding scenarios all across our Country and beyond by providing ongoing education, programs and site tours benefiting the birds and our community.
- Our focus is on the present and future needs of the birds.
- Our experience brings us to a vision of preparedness and financial stability, with a well-equipped facility capable of handling the never-ending needs of the birds particularly those who have lost their human “family,” have been abandoned or abused, or are elderly or disabled.
- Preparedness is crucial, not only for the immediate future but also for 10, 30, 50 years from now and due to the given present over-breeding, over sales of parrots and repeated bird adoption – which they can live 80 years or more and which frequently outlive their original owners.
Our Planned Actions:
- Offering courses of the avian skeletal system focusing on both anatomy and physiology for students or individuals interested in avian medicine.
- Offer individual hands on classes and enrichment workshops to educate the general public, young people, and potential bird owners about important issues of avian welfare.
- Creating additional programs that involve families and provide opportunities for our underserved at-risk young adults population and back-to-work programs.
- Build a park-like community environment with an educational resource center and a sitting area for visitor’s to overlook the birds and the edible garden. The garden would sustain feeding the birds.
- Develop a support program for individuals grieving over the loss of their companion animals.
- Continue with new developments and plans to improve facility and operations.
|IRS registered 501(c)3 EIN: 26-1470517|
|Under My Wing is the only listed exotic bird related registered animal rescue organization with the State of NJ Department of Health.|