Parrots For Dummies
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Adoption is a fantastic way to acquire your bird. In fact, lots of wonderful birds end up in rescue, maybe because their guardian died or someone in the home became allergic to feather dander. Sometimes a person simply gets too many birds and needs to thin the flock because of a move or lifestyle shift. Sometimes a person’s new spouse, partner, or baby can’t tolerate the bird for whatever reason. Even a hand-fed and super tame bird can become a problem as someone’s life circumstances change. Not all rescue birds have issues.

A parrot rescue organization doesn’t give away birds for free. You’ll have to pay an adoption fee that covers your new bird’s past medical care, housing, and feeding. Rescue isn’t the place to get an inexpensive bird, although a bird from a rescue will come with its own cage and supplies, which is helpful.

Is it easier to buy a bird? Yes. But you may find it more fulfilling to adopt one instead. When you adopt a bird, you free up the space for another bird to go into rescue. Some rescue operations have a waiting list of up to a year before they can take in a bird.

You may have to wait a while to adopt a parrot if you’re looking for a particular species, but just have some patience, as most of the more common species do come up for adoption frequently.

Identify which birds are available for adoption

If you’re considering adopting a parrot, investigate the array of birds available. Although a parrot of any species, size, and age can find itself homeless, larger cockatoos, Amazons (shown), and macaws are often abandoned to sanctuaries.

adopted rescue parrot pair Photo by James Parsons

This untamed Amazon parrot pair was adopted, and their new owner loves the male just the way he is, plucked breast and all.

As parrots mature, they can get noisy and destructive and may turn into chronic pluckers or biters if they don’t have the proper housing, nutrition, and social contact, and some people aren’t prepared to deal with any of that behavior. Secondhand birds can become loving, joyous companions when they’re allowed to be themselves and blossom into the parrots they were meant to be.

You can find just about every species of parrot in rescue, from the tiny parrotlet to the huge umbrella cockatoo, and everything in between. One great reason to adopt from a rescue is that you can be sure that your new bird has seen a veterinarian and has been given a clean bill of health; if they haven't, you’ll be made aware of any health issues. You may not get this assurance from a pet store or breeder, so ask if you’re prospective parrot has had a veterinary check or vaccinations.

Local rescues are overflowing with parrots. You can be a real hero to a bird that just wants a comfortable place to live and someone to love.

Look online for bird rescues in your area because many bird rescues aren’t in one place. They often have a network of foster families who temporarily take in birds, so you may have to chat with several people to find the right bird for you. You may also have to wait a while and check in with the rescue often.

Because parrots can be so long-lived when cared for properly, adopting a 10-year-old or even a 20-year-old bird is still like adopting a youngster. Don’t let a bird’s age deter you.

Complete the rescue application

Any good rescue will want to know all about your home and lifestyle before letting you adopt a bird. You may need to take an online tutorial, watch some videos, or even attend a bird care class along with your adoption application. Here are some questions that may be on the application:
  • Are you 18 (or 21) or older?
  • Why do you want a bird?
  • Do you own or rent your home? If you rent, will your landlord allow you to have a bird?
  • Who is going to be the bird’s primary caretaker?
  • How many hours a day will the bird be alone?
  • Does anyone in the house smoke?
  • Do you use nonstick cookware?
  • Does anyone in the household have asthma or allergies?
  • Are there small children in the household?
  • Does everyone in the home want the bird?
  • Do you have any past experience with birds?
  • Do you have an avian veterinarian?
  • What will happen to the bird if you’re unable to care for it?
  • Are you aware that birds make noise, are messy, and can bite?
  • Where will the bird live?
  • Do you have any other pets, like cats, dogs, snakes, or fish?
  • Are your other pets up to date on their vaccinations?

Many rescues won’t adopt to someone out of state, so don’t bother looking too far afield. Some rescues will adopt regionally. Most rescues won’t ship birds, so be prepared to pick up the bird yourself.

Be prepared for the rescue home visit

If you pass the application process, the rescue will schedule a home visit. The whole process may take a few weeks. The person visiting is often a volunteer who is taking time out of their day to meet with you to see where the bird will live and to evaluate your ability to care for a parrot. The evaluator may consider some of the following:
  • Do you seem knowledgeable about bird guardianship or are you willing to learn?
  • Do you have screens on your windows? Are there any easy escape routes?
  • Do you have other animals that can harm the bird?
  • Are there close neighbors who will be annoyed with the parrot’s noise?
  • Is your home tidy?
  • Do you have plants in the home that are toxic to parrots?
  • How long will it take from your home to the nearest emergency avian veterinarian?
  • Do your other pets seem well cared for?
  • Is there a lot of alcohol around and/or drug paraphernalia?
  • Does the home smell of cigarettes or other smoke?
If you pass the home visit, most rescues will allow you to foster the bird for a few months, giving you both the time to get to know each other to see if it’s a good fit. If not, the rescue will take the bird back. Don’t feel bad if it doesn’t work out the first time. Rescues want to make sure that you and your bird are going to be a long-term match, and they understand that not all birds will be suitable in all homes.

If you get chosen as an adopter, the rescue will likely ask you to sign a contract that states how you’ll care for the bird. Most rescues will take the bird back if for any reason you no longer want the bird. You may be fined if you re-home the bird yourself.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Nikki Moustaki is an accomplished avian care and behavior expert. She works with clients to heal strained relationships between themselves and their feathered friends. She has published 47 books, including more than 30 covering the care and training of exotic birds.

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