I love volunteering at Best Friends Animal Society. It is an amazing place with incredible people. I worked hard while I was there. I washed windows, cleaned baseboards, scrubbed floors and bathrooms. I left it cleaner and better than I found it. So I consider my experience and visit a successful one because I feel good about what I accomplished and the Parrot Garden benefited from my time there. Win-Win.
The work I saw as necessary will stick for a while and I chose to do that as a way of giving to the Parrot Garden. Most volunteers have no interest in doing that sort of thing. They want to work with the birds. But I saw deep-cleaning as the best way to help out. I don’t have the money to give them a huge donation. But I can clean a bathroom. And I will go back. Probably again and again.
I think a clean and bright bathroom makes it a nice place to work. They let me choose what I wanted to do and they let me do it. I liked that. I like making things better for the volunteers and staff as well as for the birds.
The Parrot Garden has changed since the two years I’d been there initially. They’ve added more flights and more plants. They’ve put in a dog run for the Vicktory dogs that stay at the Parrot Garden learning social skills. The Parrot Garden has expanded and improved. It was a gratifying thing to see.
But a visit to Best Friends changes your view of the world. Things simply appear differently to you when you return home. The effect and change within yourself is profound.
When I returned home, I thought, “I was there yesterday and I made a difference. But they are there today making a difference and I’m not. Their work goes on. Without me.”
Their work is important. And unfortunately, it’s very necessary. I did find out a couple things about the Parrot Garden. It exists not because Best Friends wanted to have an adoption program for parrots, it was because a few parrots ended up in the “Feathered Friends” area. They didn’t know where else to put them, so that’s where they ended up: with the doves and hawks, geese and owls.
Eventually, they created a separate area for the parrots, renamed the two areas “Wild Friends” and the “Parrot Garden” about five or six years ago and the Parrot Garden simply grew from those first initial few parrots.
They now care for about a hundred birds with a long waiting list. They do good work. The Staff loves what they do and they are very good at it.
That’s all well and good but I feel the homeless parrot problem is growing all over the nation. Some people in the field don’t see it that way. I have not seen the statistics so I can only go by what I read and what people discuss. Obviously there are people out there who don’t see it as a problem, but then again, they aren’t the ones doing intake at the Parrot Garden, Phoenix Landing, Florida Parrot Rescue and a myriad of other rescues across the country.
Paco, a 68 year-old Amazon
Florida Parrot Rescue, Phoenix Landing, Black Hills Parrot Welfare & Education Center, Miss Vicky’s Parrot Village and other organizations do what they intend to do. They take care of their current flock and they place birds that should be in homes. They are success stories.
Echo at Miss Vicky’s Parrot Village
Despite the growing need for it in the world of animal adoption and rescue, I feel that the plight of homeless parrots still remains one of the “Red Headed Step-Children” of the National Adoption and Rescue scene. I believe we are indeed a distant third behind dogs and cats both in regard and perception of importance.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I find it ironic that HSUS puts out an article about homeless parrots that makes a lot of noise (The No Fly Zone) and yet they do no work in the field. I’m also unaware of any parrot rescues and adoption organizations affiliated with the HSUS.
Sweetie at Black Hills Parrot Rescue
When I was at Best Friends last September, I talked with John Garcia, one of the first response team leaders on the ground at Bad Newz Kennels when the Vicktory Dogs were first being assessed. He is now in charge of the Emergency Response Team Program. In setting up this team and their protocol, John had to train with Wendy Hatchel and others at the Parrot Garden, learning how to safely restrain a parrot, toweling and other skills many of us already know. But John was primarily a “Dog Guy.”
John Garcia at Best Freiends: Dedicated and a really nice guy.
John wasn’t well versed in the area of caring for parrots but he had to learn it as part of the Emergency Response protocol. John told me he really enjoyed being at the Parrot Garden learning about parrots and how to help them should the need arise in the field. Unfortunately, I think those skills John learned will serve him sooner than later.
He did mention that he’d rather take a bite from a pit bull than a parrot. I was surprised at that, but then again, I’ve never taken a bite from a pit bull. A Pig? Yes. Penguin? Yes. Pit bull? Well, not yet.
BooBoo at Phoenix Landing
Apparently John has taken bites from both parrots and pit bulls so I’m not going to question his assessment of the situation. My point is, John is well-versed in rescue work, but he had to be specially trained to work with birds. Face it, this particular arena takes a group of people with specialized skills.
Not everyone knows how to handle a parrot. So I must applaud all of the people out there who do parrot adoption work as well as care for those birds needing help: As you might realize, there is a growing need for Foster Families.
Jaws at Black Hills Parrot Welfare & Education Center,
So in the meantime, what should we do about this “Third Place” situation? I don’t know. But I think if we continue with education, publicity about the need for adoption, fostering of parrots, and keep making noise about their specific needs, we might get somewhere.
April 11, 2013 at 8:22 am
Patricia I love you,, but this may sound awkward,, I really hope HSUS NEVER gets involved in parrots,, they are a travesty and IMO HELP NO ANIMAL,,,,
I love you, and thank you for the wonderful work you do…..
April 11, 2013 at 8:31 am
I so wish there was a parrot rescue near me. I would volunteer also. There is so much to learn. Good article. Thanks.
April 11, 2013 at 8:35 am
And please stop breeding. Just. Stop.
April 11, 2013 at 9:24 am
yes, please stop breeding……………..anything…………..birds, dogs, cats, gerbils, what the hell ever…………..
April 11, 2013 at 12:49 pm
After superstorm Sandy, I joined my County Animal Response Team. I found many places that were trying to assist with people and their parrots, but did not have a clue of what they needed, what kind of bird or how to handle them. I am the Avian & Exotic specialist/handler for my county and I offered to go state wide if needed. I hope I am not needed(emergency), but they know they can call on me at any time if I am.
April 11, 2013 at 1:39 pm
Hi I am not sure what to do. I bought an Ecclectus that was 2 years old. He had a very bad screeching habit. I worked for 2 years with him and with experts and bought videos and read everything online but could not figure out how to train him. At the advice of bird behaviorist vet and a bird trainer I had to sell him. I have every possible piece of equipment a bird could need and can’t wait to get another bird. I am very nervous to adopt because of having had Jackson. I love bird noises and think they r very fun ad good company. But Jackson made me lose confidence. I am thinking of buying a baby so it will grow up in our house. But I would love to consider adopting instead. What do you all think? We have 2 kids at home 16 and 13. Great quiet kids that love pets and a little 5 year old yorkie. We live in Fort Lauderdale but are soon moving to Orlando.
April 12, 2013 at 1:44 am
I have a flock of 7 birds [all are what I refer to as “previously owned birds”] The exception might be our now 4 year old CAG [he was brought into a store at the age of 8 months by his breeder] . We happened to be there getting bird food and thinking that this gorgeous creature might sit in that store for a long time-we maxed out a credit card by buying him plus cage toys etc.
Anyway, there is a male eckie in our flock as well , so I am quite familiar with the deafening shriek of an ecclectus. It puts my macaw Max to shame who is a very calm and laid back package of “love feathers”. He was 12 when he came to us and is now going on 22.
But back to the ecclectus. Have you paid attention WHEN the times were that he shrieked? The reason I am asking is that mine started doing that as well and all of a sudden I noticed that he did it when he heard hubbies car pull away or come back, when someone knocked on the door or if he heard another unusual noise. They do say you should ignore a bird’s shriek and not say anything—-it is considered positive reinforcement of the behavior if you do respond, But I broke that rule once I knew WHEN and WHY he went on a tirade by simply replying “Thank you Rascal for letting me know”. Lo and behold it works 95% of the time:) Please, please reconsider “buying ” a baby as that is no guarantee that the bird will be a quiet one, even if raised in your house. You do sound intelligent and also like a real bird lover:) and that is why I feel comfortable to ask you to please and try to go for adoption again. Give your new bird time to adjust to its new surroundings and speak softly to him/her. Let the bird decide when he feels comfortable enough to venture out and start bonding. I am also NOT an expert [but this has worked for me in all cases] and I can honestly say that each one of mine is well adjusted and it only gets loud when I decide it is “loud birdy time”. We turn on funky music…we dance and I holler along with them for about 15 minutes or so. That pleases them…I turn soft music back on and they sit on their various cages or play gyms and start a grooming session and we are “happy birdies and happy mommy. PLEASE try to go for adoption again. Getting a baby [a dream I can understand] but that only takes a place away from one in need of love and it encourages more breeding:(
Thank you for listening to my tirade;) BTW…on FB you can find me under Iraine Mixon if you want to send a private message:)
May 5, 2013 at 6:55 am
Right on Reenie!
April 11, 2013 at 3:41 pm
Without a lot more information it is hard to comment Lori. But I will put my two cents in anyway. First there are no guarantee’s with any bird including a baby. In my opinion a reputable adoption facility could help you more than probably anyone. Many times they can tell you every like, dislike, habit, and quirk about nearly every bird in their care. Not so with baby birds. They can also help educate you to prevent from making mistakes and set you and the bird up for success. Keep in mind that every bird has a certain level of noise that must be tolerated, they are messy, destructive, require special care and diets. It is not advisable bring a bird into a home just prior to a move. You have a much higher chance of success after you and your housing situation are stable. I have all the equipment to make babies (but I am not going to) Having the equipment is not a good reason to get another bird. But if you work with someone that can help you through the whole process as well as afterward you could be a great companion to a bird. I have worked with many people who have repeated mistakes with birds. I suggest finding someone willing to share their knowledge with you for a successful 2nd try.
April 11, 2013 at 6:21 pm
Greg, thank you very much for your advice. I had Jackson for 2 years and he lived in I think one of the largest cages for sale at the store. I enjoyed cleaning his cage and buying him exciting new toys and getting him to try new foods. He also exercised on a jungle rope gym my son and I made for him out on the lanai. He got at least 3 mist showers a week. We loved the everything about him. I cried for a week when I had to sell him. I still miss him. I can’t wait for the company of another bird. After reading the above article it really made me wonder if I could bring home another adopted bird and have it work out. Again I like caring for the bird keeping a clean environment new toys lots if good food etc. I miss all that. Jackson left in December. Also I was planning on gettig a bird after we move. I know that some new baby Quakers are coming around the end of April or in May but they won’t be available to come home till later. So after reading the above article I was wondering if I should not go see the babies.
April 11, 2013 at 7:43 pm
Maybe the reason birds are 3rd in importance is like what you said about John…. (initially) most people are scared of them. After getting a nasty bite from an eclectus when I was a kid, I was terrified of birds until I found Mango and we bonded. But for me, all it took was meeting the right bird for me, which in turn made me want to work with bird rescues.
Most of the people I know that are NOT bird people are scared of Mango, until they actually interact with him. And since there are not as many true bird people as there are birds, the birds unfortunately suffer. Less people are interested in volunteering with rescues, less (qualified) people actually own birds, etc.
Maybe awareness in how amazing these animals really are would be the first step. If more people understood how intelligent, funny, sweet and loving birds were, they would be more likely to help them by way of volunteering, donations, etc.
April 11, 2013 at 8:41 pm
Hi thank you for your reply. Jackson was truly amazing. When I got him I could not pet him. With much patience and me being taught by experts I was able to pet him and scratch under his wings it was wonderful. We also got him to start speaking words and enjoying a mist shower. I tried very hard with him to figure out the screeching for two years with the advice of experts. But at their advice I had to give him up. By the way he is in a great new home with a couple that already have an Ecclectus. Did your comment mean that you thought I should not adopt a bird?
April 11, 2013 at 7:59 pm
You included a photo of “Lita!” She’s my god-daughter…so glad she’s doing so well at Best Friends!!!!
April 12, 2013 at 1:54 am
@ Lori. I think you got some great advice here from people and your replies now definitely have me convinced that you are not going to make any decisions without having it all thought out very well. Being in Florida there should be no shortage of people willing to help you get started with a bird that is just waiting for someone like you to offer him a “forever loving Home”:)
May 5, 2013 at 6:58 am
I love seeing advice from so many people who so obviously care deeply for birds and all animals, it is a great way to start a beautiful Sunday morning!