If you ask a neighbor, friend or acquaintance where the local dog & cat shelter is located they will probably be able to tell you. If you ask the same question regarding a parrot recue you may have a difficult time getting an answer. Many parrot recues are run from private homes, due to a lack of available funding.
According to the American Pet Product National Pet Owners Survey, there are 20.6 million parrots living in 6.9 million homes in the US in 2013-2014. These figures only include parrots kept as pets. Parrots in breeding facilities, zoos, circus’s and tourist attractions are not included in these figures. Keep in mind that, 76 million “baby boomers” will age and become incapable of caring for their companion parrots over the next 10 yrs. and will need to place approximately 2.2 million birds. It is said, that 400-500,000 parrots need placement annually, many argue this figure is higher in reality. Over population is determined by the number of humans/homes capable of properly providing for a parrot, not just the number of birds. Few people are truly prepared to provide adequately for a creature of such intelligence, delicacy and sensitivity.
Keep in mind that there are less than 200 parrot refuges and no public shelters for parrots. Dog and cat shelters are ill prepared to care appropriately for parrots. They lack the needed equipment, diets, avian vets and knowledge to provide for a parrot’s needs. We are only talking companion parrots, not including all the parrots that were imported in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s for breeding purposes. Sanctuaries are now being flooded with breeding stock that have aged out and no longer produce offspring. Adding to the problem of unwanted birds is commercialization of birds as pets, mass production style breeding operations that flood the market with baby birds and the misconception that parrots are low maintenance pets. Let’s not forget the myth that if you buy a baby bird it will bond to you forever. Add to all this, the fact that some claim to breed for conservation which is a myth. Captive bred parrots are not released in to the wild, they cannot even return to their native lands due to deforestation and the risk of introducing disease into the few remaining wild populations. Parrots are left out of legislative efforts to protect companion animals and there are no real regulations. Anyone can purchase a FFWC license to breed parrots by simply paying a $50 fee for the license each year. Many breeding facilities are never even inspected for the welfare of the birds.
All of the above is why parrot advocate say Adopt, Don’t Shop! There are many advantages to adopting an adult bird, just as with cats and dogs. Most rescues will tell you the full truth of caring for these intelligent creatures, the time involved, the expense and the neediness of the animal. Most reputable rescues will have an adoption application that must be completed, a home visit is preformed and bonding sessions with the bird you plan to adopt. These requirements are not meant to make it difficult to adopt a bird. They are meant to protect the bird and the human and try to ensure the bird will have a long lasting home with well educated humans to provide for its needs. So, please Don’t Shop, Adopt!