Dogs and cats in need of adoption have a host of advocates in the Twin Cities trying to draw attention to their plight. Unwanted exotic birds and parrots, however, don’t have as many fans or the publicity of more cuddly pets, so their numbers in rescues are rising.
In 2010, the Parrot Adoption Education Program (PAEP) took in about 100 unwanted exotic birds. The normal average since the Twin Cities area organization was founded in 2000 was 60. Many of last year’s surrenders were due to economic hardships experienced by their owners.
Birds at rescues and shelters can wait for years before being adopted, as fewer people adopt them. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, there are about 4.5 million households in the U.S. that include pet birds. Compare that to the 43 million households that have dogs and 37 million with cats.
Although birds have been kept as pets for thousands of years, they haven’t truly been domesticated in the same way that dogs and cats have. While most of the parrots now available for adoption in the U.S. have been raised by breeders, that has only been the case for a few decades. Previously, most exotic birds were stolen from the wild as hatchlings.
A few generations of captive breeding doesn’t result in much of a reduction in their wild instincts. Many exotic birds have behavioral issues that are irritating to humans, but perfectly normal for parrots. Those include screeching, inappropriate chewing, throwing food and territorial aggression. They can also become overly attached to specific humans, resulting in hostility towards other members of the household. Parrots can develop even worse behavioral problems if they are mistreated by their owners.
All of these factors make them hard to place when they’re in need of a new home. Because some specifies of parrots can live up to 100 years, they can outlive their owners and need rehoming on several occasions. But exotic birds’ beauty, intelligence and ability to mimic have captured the hearts of many humans. They can make great companions when people learn to accept them as individuals and try to understand their wild behaviors.
Many parrots are available for adoption in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area. PAEP has more than 36 exotic birds available for adoption. Midwest Avian Adoption & Rescue Services, Inc.(MAARS) currently serves as a sanctuary to over 110 parrots and has helped rehome over 1,200 birds in the last 11 years. About 30 birds are awaiting homes at the newly formed Avalon Parrot Rescue Services.
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