Finally, the cat is out of the bag — er, the parrot is out of the cage — and in my own words I am about to share with you the past, present and future of Hurlin’s Parrot Rescue. For starters, Hurlin’s Parrot Rescue is a home-based husband/wife team that specializes in the rescue and rehabilitation of parrots in captivity, and we have a special interest in special needs and handicapped parrots. For those who don’t know, parrots are the most popular pet right under cats and dogs, also making them one of the top throw away pets due to their extensive needs, profound intelligence, and lifespans that can reach between 30 to 90 years depending on species.
I always loved animals as a youngster, and I even wrote to and sponsored whale foundations, but I found my passion for parrots when I was 18 years old, after bringing a Green-cheeked Conure into my home — and soon after, an African grey. These two birds led me to the world of parrot rescue and made me realize the extreme need for this exhausting but rewarding work. In 2013 I happened to marry a man that shares my love for these animals and shares my mission to provide relief for the growing number of displaced parrots. Ironically, one of my husband’s uncles turned out to be Marc Johnson, the founder of Foster Parrots, Ltd. and The New England Exotic Wildlife Sanctuary, and I am proud to say that he has been a huge inspiration and an invaluable mentor to our rescue.
I have rescued, rehabilitated and found homes for birds in need since 2004, and finally in June of 2013, Hurlin’s Parrot Rescue made a name for itself and became public. Because we are out of the way, located a bit in the boonies, I had the belief that our rescue would take a while to become overwhelmed — boy was I wrong. Since so many other rescues are full, parrots began to come to us from out of state, the farthest being West Virginia. To give you an idea of how serious this problem is, when we first opened our doors we had only 4 birds, and with only two years passing by, we are now into the low 20s — this is not including the 100 or so that we have rescued, rehabilitated and adopted into new homes.
With the help of our supporters, we have already accomplished a great deal, including saving the lives of several birds, assisting in educating the public on parrot ownership, obtaining our non-profit status, writing several articles pertaining to parrot ownership and rescue, building three bird rooms and a proper quarantine room inside our home, planting a 30-by-50 foot garden to help feed our birds, and building a 20-by-10 foot outdoor aviary so the birds get some sunshine during the summer months. We have also been featured on the front page of the Record Eagle newspaper along with three other publications: Pet Friends Magazine, Community Health magazine, and Morning Star Publishing. In 2015, we made the local news for helping a distressed parront get reunited with her Blue and Gold Macaw who flew off into the treetops. We managed all of this alongside our full-time jobs that financially support our rescue missions — we never sit down, we never quit. Rescuing these animals is what we live for; it’s what we spend every waking moment thinking about, no matter how exhausted we might be.
Spending everyday thinking about the rescue leads to many future plans. Currently the maximum amount of parrots we can take in at one time is 25, depending on their individual needs; this is due to space limitations, funding, and time. Because we specialize in special needs birds, this makes it difficult to place most of our birds into homes for various reasons: behavioral issues, ongoing medical issues and handicaps. We are working on establishing a foster-family program within Michigan for parrot placement, and in turn we have designed a page on our website where permanent sanctuary residents and foster parrots can be sponsored. This is a very important step for us to take as our rescue is filling quickly, and the main thing that we dread is being forced to turn neglected parrots away, possibly causing their fate to be further neglect or death. Unfortunately, we have already begun turning parrots away, instead offering advice and assistance along with copies of adoption applications and contracts so they can find proper homes on their own, but we still just can’t refuse helping a bird in a horrible situation. If we can’t help them, we find a way, otherwise we can’t sleep at night.
In the near future, we plan on building a second outdoor flight aviary beside our current one; this new one will be a place for our smaller birds to enjoy the outdoors. We also plan to expand our rescue by building an expansion off of our largest bird room, then off of that expansion fencing in our entire backyard as a huge summer flight aviary (and patio for us humans). Who knows what the distant future may bring; we strive to make a difference in the world one step at a time. The distant future holds possibilities to expand into a larger sanctuary facility and hire paid volunteers in an attempt to keep up with the need for displaced parrot housing and care.
Working in rescue is far more rewarding than many people realize; seeing birds in a depressed state or in poor health and lifting them back up is the most magnificent feeling of accomplishment, and feeling their love in return keeps us going back to help more. Knowing that I’m doing something to give back to the world gives me a purpose, and with my husband by my side we can accomplish anything that we set our minds to. The sky is our limit, and our passion for this mission runs higher than the sky.