Embracing with love the many wings
whose lives we transform.


​Under My Wing Avian Refuge, exist to provide captive birds with individualized care, the companionship of a flock, and the opportunity to live out their lives in a safe haven dedicated to their well-being and educating the public of the complex needs of parrots in captivity and the crisis facing them.
Under My Wing Avian Refuge AKA Under My Wing and UMWAR
Foundation Type: General, charity-Section 509(a)(2) Sub-section Code 501(c)(3) 
EIN 26-1470517
Cause Area (NTEE Code) 
Bird Sanctuary/Preserve (D32)
Animal Protection and Welfare (includes Humane Societies and SPCAs) (D20)
Animal Training, Behavior (D61) 



Under My Wing Avian Refuge had its beginnings in 2006 when its founder, Paula N Ashfield, began taking in some birds from the local community in Franklin, NJ. Discovering that she had a natural talent for handling these little creatures, she opened her own bird care center named The Cherished Nest. Birds brought here to groom, (bath, nail clipped and enjoy time out of their cages).  The Cherished Nest had become a vacation place were bird owners could

Give themselves a brake and trust their birds in a safe place while they either vacationed or needed boarding for their bird for various other reasons. The length of their visits varied – some brought in for only a few hours – others left for several days or weeks, depending on their owners’ needs. Before long, a number of locals began asking Paula to keep their birds permanently. At that point, Paula decided to change the nature of her business from a care center to a rescue for unwanted and mistreated birds.

Among the first bird’s Paula rescued a cockatiel named TJ who, at age 15, is still thriving at the refuge. Then, in January 2007, Lance arrived. An Umbrella cockatoo, Lance, surrendered because of the abusive behavior of a member of his owner’s family. At that time, he was very aggressive, but with Paula’s love, patience, and excellent socializing skills, he became the sweet bird he is today (if one does not consider his predilection for biting bare toes). Soon, Paula and her husband Scott found themselves rescuing birds from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, and Connecticut.

In August 2007, a Moluccan cockatoo named Aldo, surrendered. Like many other surrendered birds, he given medications neglected by his owner and 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 proper veterinary care and carefully monitored by the staff. However, his condition deteriorated rapidly and at the last of several emergency visits to an animal hospital, pronounced critical by the on duty veterinary. With medications and a hope for recovery, Aldo Paula took him back to the rescue where he unfortunately died the next day with his head under his opened wing.

Paula was devastated due to the loss of Aldo and a month or so after Aldo’s death, she decided to rebuild her destiny, open a sanctuary for birds like Aldo, and accommodate the needs of those exotic birds that clearly require special care and permanency care. In honor of Aldo our sanctuary is named Under My Wing Avian Refuge.

In November 2007, Under My Wing Avian Refuge registered as a New Jersey nonprofit corporation and in May 2009, and received it’s determination letter of acceptance by the Internal Revenue Service. Cause Area (NTEE Code), Bird Sanctuary/Preserve (D32), Animal Protection and Welfare (includes Humane Societies and SPCAs) (D20), and Animal Training, Behavior (D61). Under My Wing Avian, Refuge AKA Under My Wing and UMWAR

Objection of this organization

  • Be a “no-kill” exotic bird sanctuary and aid in the rescue and rehabilitation of abused and abandoned exotic birds. 
  • Safeguard exotic birds from becoming extinct provide humane care and treatment for exotic birds needing protection in the area served by the organization
  • Seek to return lost birds to their owners

All efforts done to secure funding for the sanctuary move out of Paula’s home to purchasing land to build a facility for the refuge. This was not an easy task since because there were an intake of more than 200 birds that needed rescue and with no other reliable rescue in NJ, Under My Wing became the only available facility birds could on. Some birds were taken in from NJSPCA hoarding findings but most of these birds no longer had A Wing of Hope who moved out of State and Issues revolving Arcadia Sanctuary. Our choice was very limited and had to temporarily operate as an agency or rescue who takes birds in just to adopt them since we had not enough space nor a permanent facility to care for them all. Meanwhile we had to move, there was no other choice. With the help of contributors, we achieved that goal.

The Ashfield’s purchased 10.5 acres to establish the future home of the sanctuary and moved to Wantage NJ. This property, ideally located in the northwestern part of New Jersey among the rolling hills of the Kittatinny Mountains. The refuge is less than 10 minutes from High Point State Park and 90 minutes from New York City. Its nearby neighbors include the Wantage Township Animal Control facility, the Avian Wildlife Center (a rescue for wild birds), the Arabian Horse Rescue, and the Wantage Dog Park, indicating a community that clearly cares and provides for its animal friends. The sanctuary itself sits on 10.5 acres of open fields surrounded by woods and a stream - a perfect place for housing birds and looking after their many needs, including proper feeding, excellent care, and socialization. Also, its forest setting affords a wonderful summer retreat, as the birds can be moved outdoors to enjoy the sounds, sunlight, and fresh breezes of the season.

It is here were we continued our work and grow.

Under My Wing assisted and donated over 50 cages to Tinton Falls Humane Society when Authorities removed over 800 birds including carcasses of 375 birds from Ewa Matczak’s home, a bird hoarder who shocked the animal protection community in State of NJ.

Nothing is as easy as it seems. No sooner did we moved in to our new location we encountered issues and the programs we were able to establish took a back seat to natural disasters that faced us. On November 3rd Under My Wing experienced a smoke fire and moved all the birds in the Ashfield’ s home while renovating the birds living quarters. They received assistance from other animal organization in their network and the public. The Ashfields donated the full reinstatement of their item loss to the refuge in order that the refuge was able to pay for new cages for 30 birds.and one 82 'x 62' aviary. Upon completion of renovations, the birds were moved back to their quarters. While under renovation of the smoke fire construction for the entry of the sanctuary begun. A 60" x 45" concrete slab with sidewalk to driveway was being build. Two months later, in August while phase 2 of 3 of the entrance to the sanctuary project was under construction Hurricane Irene flood hit hard in the excavated area allowing the water to damage all the renovations done and additionally caused new damage. An enormousness financial loss, The Ashfield's had no choice but to utilize their funds for the completion of the entrance project and used it for mold remediation, and repairs needed from the flood damage, leaving the concrete slab construction for a later time.

It was Saint Hubert’s Animal Control like many other organizations chose our organization and transfers birds to the refuge. As Under My Wing accepts birds in especially when overcrowding, abuse, abandoned birds and hoarding occurs.

Re-established programs that experienced a setback due to the natural disasters were slowing established again. Companion for seniors, Best friend to Disabled teens, and Pennies for Parrots. Adoption of birds also came to a halt. Fortunate for us an established rehoming rescue moved to NJ from NY and a few new recues opened their doors in NJ. Although these were new at rescuing birds, they took some of the burden off by their service to the birds but none, set up with a facility to run a sanctuary.

A new program began. UMWAR Youth group was established, which allows youngster to learn to care for birds and philanthropy were eager to support our cause and keep the birds happy with toy making creations and socialization while learning has grown to over 20 active children. At this time, the Grievance program and new programs such as the Educational program for students from the Windsor Learning Center as they utilized Under My Wing's service for their student who were in transition from their school to NJ High Point High School.

Under My Wing, similar to the New Jersians population did not escape the effects that Super Storm Sandy had in store. Another setback that did not cripple our lifesaving work but empowered us to help families in distress with their so beloved birds. Simultaneously became a comfort zone to many animals whose life had been shattered by Sandy.

We did it! After all the set backs and delays Under My Wing finally accomplished becoming transparent and have earned the GuideStar.org Transparency Badge.

Continuing our mission and re-establishing programs continued. All members of this organization advanced with more dedication to the morally and ethically responsible treatment of animals in our local community, state, and nation, and in the international community. Our first 5K Run/Walk fundraising event took place in Brooklyn NY. We successfully raised over $1,500 for our cause.

Our program groups sub leaders and members are from:

  • High Point High School Special Education
  • Willowglen Academy, Sparta, NJ
  • ​Community Vocational Services, PA
  • Wantage Middle School
  • High Point High School
  • Sussex County Girl Scouts

Our plans surpassed all the setbacks we had experienced. After dealing from all the symptoms, the focus for our organization continued its focus that solve parrot abuse and neglect, in our community and beyond. We continually extended humane education and public assistance programs that help keep parrots from being homeless in the first place.

Under My Wing, recognized to be a facility where the community could on and we could likewise count on our community. Everything stated to change and growing to no limit. We began with clearing land to build the vision of building the birds their own building. After much work in cutting trees, stocking wood and preparation with the much help from local volunteers, we began to see the vision come to flourish. Thankfully, to one of our donors who made a $50K contribution and a personal loan made by the Ashfields, we were able to hire a contractor to continue clearing, excavating and prep site for the new building.

The construction of the building began in October 2017, a very exiting way to end the year. Despite the delays in building the building. Completed by April 2018 and all the birds experience room as never before. Their new environment in a 40’ x 80’ x12’ building was so spacious from any home they ever came from. Their freedom to roam, fly and not be crowded by cages was a phenomenal time in their life.

There was no time to nor money left to build the outdoor aviaries and besides, we needed to clear lots more land and level much more ground. We decided to apply for a grant and generously enough a $100K form DJ & T Foundation Board of Directors awarded Under My Wing. What a blessing. We began doing what was needed the most and applied every cent to the operation, upgrade and the lives of the birds.In addition, we began planning and clearing more land, enough not only for the outdoor aviaries but an edible garden a visitor’s sitting area and amply parking.

We are creating an Educational Park for years to come with outdoor aviaries and a garden as a child’s educational program. Please join us to making yet another vision come alive and reach another plateau.

Under My Wing Avian Refuge
1243 Rte 23 North
Wantage NJ 07461 US
Email: info@undermywing.org
Telephone: +1 973-702-7770
Paula's Cell +1 862-268-3059 (Emergencies Only)  


Our Devotion and Commitment are Continually Changing Parrots Lives


​​​​​​Providing Home, Flock, Rest, Refuge & Individualized Care


The success of our efforts depends on the involvement of many. We rely on the support of individuals, foundations, corporations and other partners in several ways to achieve our goals. We are not Government or State Funded.

Won’t you please join us to make a real lasting difference in the lives of Under My Wing winged children?​​​​​​​​​