How To Adopt a Parrot - Part 1
Understanding how a parrot rescue works makes the process for you, the parrots, and the rescuers better.
Parrot rescue is not like dog, cat, or any other companion animal rescue. It's a nuanced event because parrots are nuanced personalities. As nuanced as children in a foster home. You'll find a rainbow of personalities, and they are all working hard to do well in a temporary place. Including the rescue and rescue volunteers. Be kind to all.
Rescuers are not making big profits. Parrot Rescue is a passion. It is not a get rich scheme. Most rescuers work full time or have a partner that works full time to help support their passion. Some rescues are in homes. Others, off sight at a secure location. Others still, in a combination of parrot store/rescue. The store helping offset the massive costs associated with parrot care, adoption administration, and food.
All rescues depend on volunteers. There are rescues with 700 birds, and rescues with 7. In either case, there is work to be done. Consistent, hard, routine work that requires kindness and love while doing it. Stress kills parrots. Volunteers are there for the love and support of the parrots.
Some rescues have websites, some do not. Having a website costs money and time. If you find a rescue that uses a third-party website (Petfinder) it's likely they are busy caring for and finding good homes for their birds. Don't judge a rescue by a website. Parrot rescue is not Amazon. It's not about logistics.
Do not judge a rescue by non-profit status. Not solely. 501 status is a badge of honor, but it isn't some absolute truth. It just means the rescue has submitted proper paperwork, proofs, and names showing who is involved, who is gifting money, and what is spent on the rescue. And they get to buy wholesale or discount from retailers. They also have a different standard for tax deductions. 501 costs a few thousand dollars or better depending on the State issuing the certificate. It costs money and man hours to keep. There are private passionate people trying to do good where they live that cannot afford to get inside the tax machine. They pay retail for their food, and they do their best. Judge a rescue by how healthy, happy, and confident the parrots are in that rescue. Judge a rescue by the names of the veterinarians they use. Judge a rescue by the food they serve their charges. Judge a rescue by health records onsite for each bird. Relying solely on paper issued by the government is never a good idea in any situation. There is as much fraud in 501 as there is in the private sector. The health and happiness of the rescue parrots themselves, are the real certification for any rescue.
What you should expect when you call a rescue.
- If your first question is "How much?" Stop. You are not a rescue parrot candidate. This isn't a how cheap can I get one situation. Parrots are expensive. A yearly vet exam will be around $250. A cage costs $200 - $1200. Food and toys? Think $50 - $100 a month. Depending on the parrot and number of parrots. If "how much" is anywhere in your thought processes. Stop. This is not the companion animal for you.
- When you call a rescue and are asked to leave a message, give them 72 hours to get back. Particularly now in this time of social flux. Everything for everybody takes longer and is harder. We are all trying to find new paths where once it was a paved road. Be kind. A good rescue puts the parrots first. Most likely, those you called, work a 'regular' job. The rescue work happens before they left for the day and after they've put in a full day.
- Do not ask if they have a specific type or color. That is the not how this works. Ask if you can visit. Ask if you can volunteer for one day. Meet the personalities. A good rescue will never allow anyone to point at a bird, pack it up and hand the parrot over like a pair of shoes. Parrot Rescue is not Shoe Carnival.
- Choosing a parrot is waiting for a parrot to choose you. Volunteering allows the resident birds to look you over. And while you are being inspected you can see just how much work, noise, smell, and chaos goes into parrots. It will get messy. It will be loud. And you will give up a few hallowed human grounds. See it all in action. If this is your first bird, you truly have no idea of the lifestyle impact of a parrot. Companion parrots are a lifestyle choice, not a pet choice.
- Be kind. The best rescues are working hard every day. And they really REALLY do want their charges to find good homes. No one is trying to stop you from finding your parrot. This all takes time. The good rescues will ask you to come back to visit the parrot you like a few times. To make sure the parrot is happy with their choice. Seriously. There is no "training a parrot to like me". You cannot force, bribe, or BS a parrot into being a plaything. Trust the process of the rescue. This is what they do. Their priority is the parrot's happiness and safety. Not you or your schedule. It's all about the parrots.
- When a rescue charges an adoption fee, they aren't going out to dinner on your dollar after you leave. They are using it to feed, care, nurture, and heal the parrots they have. And keep the lights on. And now they have room to rescue another bird. Rescue fees are not obscene or inappropriate. Parrot rescues are not associated with local government tax allocation. Parrot rescue runs on supporters, toy sales, personal income, auctions, donations of food, toys and cages, and any other avenue that will benefit their charges. Adoption fees exist in every other companion animal venue. If you've entered this adoption idea seeking a parrot, cage, food, or any other "perk" for free. Stop. You are not a parrot person. You can love something from afar and not be an appropriate option for that something. Walk away.
- A good rescue will offer help after adoption. Call if you have questions.
- A good rescue knows their birds and their personalities. And they will do their very best to find the birds that fit your personality and profile information. You answered all those personal questions to help them find the right parrot personalities for you to meet.
- No rescue will ever adopt out a Cockatoo to an apartment situation. Ever. Don't ask. Don't lie.
- There is no such thing as a quiet parrot. They are all loud, happy, and boisterous. Size is irrelevant.
- There is no such thing as a beginner bird.
- Yes, you will need to have a veterinarian in your life. Parrots hide illness. They need yearly care and checkups. A good rescue will ask you the name of your vet, for a referral.
- Yes, a rescue has the right to insert the contract requirement that you return the parrot if something changes. (You'll find that on dog and cat adoption paperwork.)
- Yes. Good rescues have had their parrots vet checked and cared for, and you should leave with that paperwork. (That's the best part of adopting parrots. Health is literally proven, as well as guaranteed.)
- If you smoke, you will not be allowed to adopt a parrot. Cigarette smoke kills birds. Hard stop.
- Yes, you will need to pay for that bird carrier your new parrot is in. You'll need it for vet visits anyway.
- No, there is no price negotiations. This isn't Tony's Car Carnival Extravaganza. That's a parrot, not a used Mazda.
After you and your possible new parrot have chosen each other. Go home alone. Sleep on it one more night. If you wake up feeling the same, make sure your house is ready. Make sure their cage is ready. Do you and your parrot a favor and adopt on a day where you have a few days off to be with them to settle in. Whatever your work schedule allows. Don't just bring them home and disappear into your normal. Your new normal started the day you and your bird walked through your door together. You just adopted a parrot. You've entered a new lifestyle.
Part 2 - What to Expect at a Parrot Rescue – FlockCall