Chad Bartow, The Bird Man of Minturn, bequeathed his exotic birds to The Gabriel Foundation, which needs help caring for them
MINTURN — Chad Bartow, The Bird Man of Minturn, gave the gift of a lifetime when he passed.
Bartow built Happy Tails Grooming, a pet grooming service, in Minturn and, over time, became the proud owner of 50 parrots and other exotic birds. Prior to his death in May, he gave them to The Gabriel Foundation, a Front Range-based nonprofit parrot welfare and care organization.
Marisa Lahman started Walkin’ The Dog about the same time Bartow started Happy Tails. Over the years, their businesses grew and they became fast friends. Lahman is helping raise the money The Gabriel Foundation will need to care for Bartow’s birds.
“Chad had 50 birds, and if 100 people donate $1 for each bird, $50 each, we can get to $5,000 easy,” Lahman said.
A little about Chad
Chad Christian Bartow was so good at pet grooming that some people would fly their dogs to Minturn so he could groom them.
Bartow was born May 19, 1971, in Torrington, Wyoming, to Gene and Claudia Bartow. He died May 12, 2018, at Vail Health Hospital following a short illness.
Bartow came to his chosen vocation early. During high school in Wyoming, he worked for Lala’s Grooming, where he learned his trade. A little more training would help, he reasoned, so he attended Casper College and graduated the Denver Academy of Grooming in December 1992.
He moved to Vail and opened Happy Tails Grooming. Both his business and reputation grew quickly.
Chad was an animal lover. He had show birds and even show rabbits. He was as busy as anyone could be.
“He was a master groomer. He was also a perfectionist,” Lahman said.
After he had spent a work day looking after dogs and cats, he spent hours a day feeding and caring for his birds. Where most of us store burgers and beer, his refrigerator was full of bird food.
Chad’s birds are happy, they’re sweet. They’re Chad’s birds. What else would they be?
In his shop, he’d rotate them at different times, so everyone got to see every bird, Lahman said.
Chad’s birds need your help
Three days after Bartow died, The Gabriel Foundation staffers started moving those 50 birds from Minturn to the establishment’s facility in Elizabeth. Bartow’s flock of 50 birds came on the heels of 44 birds from Pennsylvania, so The Gabriel Foundation really needs to build some more space. They also need the money to build it and money to care for the birds, said The Gabriel Foundation’s Wendy Marchant.
“This places a tremendous strain on both our physical and financial resources,” Marchant said.
It costs about $1,000 a year to care for one of these birds, Marchant said. The Gabriel Foundation is now home to more than 650 birds.
Longtime friend and colleague Cherish Rosenfeld said the goal is to raise enough money to build The Gabriel Foundation a new Flight Wing in Chad’s name, so his birds can exercise outdoors daily.
“This is what we hope will be Chad’s legacy,” Cherish and Johnie Rosenfeld wrote in an email.
The immediate cost of caring for Bartow’s 50 birds will run more than $58,300, Marchant said.
The line items run like this:
• $3,800: Sponsorship of the physical transfer, including vehicles, gas, staff time and overtime for staff at aviary.
• $12,500: Funding to support the full medical work-ups of 50 birds, including blood work.
• $6,000: Funding for 30 days in quarantine care.
• $18,000: Emergency funding for 90 days of care.
• $18,000: Immediate construction of supplemental outdoor flight
• Volunteer hours: To support the care of this flock.
• In-kind donations: To support growing needs at the shelter, including fresh produce, newspapers, cages, nutriberries, high-quality pelleted diets, towels, toys and toy materials.
“The addition of 50 more birds brings us close to full capacity, so that a large-scale building expansion will be necessary in the very near future,” Marchant said.
The Gabriel Foundation receives no federal or state funding. Its entire budget comes from private donors.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.