AT 10:52AM LAST WEDNESDAY, the birds at Denise's Parrot Place on Mercer Island went totally silent. Two minutes later, the earthquake hit. "Though it was rattling in here—every bell, every toy, everything was making a lot of noise—the birds were quiet," exclaimed owner Denise Mouroux. "Once it finally stopped, they were eerily subdued the rest of the day."
In Renton, Gayle Peters, owner of Just Parrots arrived at her store shortly before the quake started. "Normally, as soon as I get to the front door, the birds start yelling and chirping and making a racket," she says. "I opened the door, came into the shop, and there was no noise. Then the birds let out one big squawk, and then there was total silence. It was really rather spooky."
Animals have very acute senses; they can supposedly hear the noise or feel the trembling of the quake before humans can. Philip Feret of Redmond's Pet Professionals says some customers told him that "for 10 or 15 seconds before they felt anything, their birds either became very, very quiet or very, very loud."
According to Dr. Janis Joslin, senior veterinarian, most of the birds of a feather at the Woodland Park Zoo handled the quake fine. Many other zoo animals were traumatized by the shaking ground—from the siamangs (an Asian lesser ape), which called out for half an hour after the quake, to the elephants, which screamed in unison during the event.
Close to the epicenter, at Wolf Haven International in Tenino, the wolves howled after the quake.
Animals also mirrored humans in their postquake apprehension. At Just Parrots, the cockatiels spent the rest of Earthquake Day hanging on to the sides of their cages as if they no longer trusted the perches.
Nelley, a.k.a. "the Bird Lady of Rose Hill," reports that while the birds in her aviary seemed unruffled, her Yorkshire terrier acted as many of the rest of us did. "As the quake struck, at first he jumped off my lap but quickly returned," she says. "Since then he's not left me alone as if he's afraid to get away from me for fear that thing's going to happen again."