We are a sanctuary and do not adopt out birds except in rare circumstances. The information that follows we gathered over several years when we were heavily involved in adoption and relinquishment. Take it with a grain of salt if you wish but the information below was hard earned. Also note the links at the bottom of the page to further information.
Before you buy that expensive recommended cage, load it with proper toys, pay the adoption donation, and bring home that special new family member you will have a few hurdles to jump. Much like running a marathon jumping hurdles will give you an understanding of your own limits and abilities. With every new obstacle, you gain knowledge that will help you deal with having a parrot or cockatoo as part of your family.
Parrots are wild animals. They are like having a two-year old with a pair of pliers and a foghorn in your home.
Some can deal with this and others find out that they cannot. Our job is to help you see if you can run the distance. It is not an easy job for either of us. Yet, when one of our rescues goes home with the right family it makes it all worthwhile.
Dr. David McCluggage, D.V.M, in his book Holistic Care for Birds states that the average lifespan of a parrot in the U.S. is five years. It is our ignorance that kills a bird with an 80-year lifespan in such a short time. Common problems such as feather destructive behavior, biting, and antisocial behavior are not problems in the wild; they are the product of captivity and improper care and anyone who says differently is uninformed.
Most rescues are concerned that everyone will be happy and safe together. They have a formal procedure to help insure that they know both the emotional condition of the bird and the preparedness of the proposed caretaker. You will fill out an “Avian Placement Application,” have a phone interview, and have a home visit for a personal interview and safety check. Many rescues offer classes to exposure you to the world of learning required to live with these wild animals. After this comes the possibility of adoption and the trial period. It is a proven procedure used by rescues around the world. The highest rate of success and happiness happens with informed and committed caretakers and supportive families.
When you apply to adopt a bird a good rescue will confirm that you have a home where their loud calls will not bother the neighbors. Generally, they want people living in a house with some property surrounding it.
They will also want to know that you can afford the extravagant veterinary bills that you will have every year. Unlike dogs and cats, cockatoos and parrots require a full medical exam every year and that will cost you $300.
They need to be weighed every day so you need a scale; parrots are prey animals and hide illnesses so as not to attract predators. If their weight drops more than 10% you must get them to an avian vet immediately. If their poop is not right then its off to the vet at once. This will usually be costly starting at $300 and going up depending on the diagnostics needed to determine if the problem is viral, bacterial, fungal or worse. So when the rescue asks you about your finances don’t shy away. If you can’t afford these costs you should not have a bird.
You will face many hurdles if you wish to adopt. This is good because no one wants a screaming harpie that bites everyone who comes near. With voices over 100 decibels and beaks that can crush a brazil nut, you need to know what you are doing.
It is true that most bird stores will sell a bird to anyone for a price. That’s raw capitalism. It’s also true that most salespeople won’t tell you things that might deter you from making a purchase. So if you want to go out and buy a bird and bring it home do us one favor. Call around and see if there are any rescues not full up. Call around and see just how easy it would be to unload a bird after you buy it. You might just decide to jump the hurdles of a parrot rescue. It can save you and the bird from a terrible experience. It is sad but true that birds don’t get over these heartaches like humans do. The damage you do might last a lifetime if you buy a bird from a bird store.
After all these hurdles, what other obstacle might stand in your way? Not only do you need to choose the bird but the bird must also choose you. To the trained bird caretaker it is obvious when this happens. Still, it takes three visits with the bird to assure that there is a bond. Don’t believe in the fairy tale “She’ll get used to us in time.” It is also important to see how the bird reacts to everyone in the household. It would not be pretty if the bird loves you but attacks your children. A veterinarian recently emailed us asking us to take her Amazon because it attacks her husband—yes, a veterinarian.
No matter how much you may want a certain bird it will not work if they do not want you. Unless the bond of genuine affection grows there cannot be a healthy relationship between caretaker and parrot. It also will not work if they do not like your husband, wife, daughter, cat or dog. Often the spouse demands that the bird leave the home, a new baby is “allergic,” or another pet attacks the bird. What is the big deal about re-homing the parrot? Parrots mate for life. How many times can you break one heart?
They must bond with you and your family. The last and most important choice is always theirs and a good rescue will make no exceptions. The feathered one always has “the Last Word.”
The Avian Welfare Coalition has great information from experts in the field that can help you decide if you can add a feathered companion to your home. You will be well prepared if you read the information here:
For behavioral issues and how to train parrots please see: