When neglected parrots get to be too much for their owners to handle, a rescue is in order.
Nancy Daniels, founder of Parrot Adopt Southern Ontario, has made it her mission to save parrots from bad circumstances and help them find homes where they can live better lives.
Daniels, 48, grew up surrounded by parrots as a child and as a result has always been comfortable around them. She started Parrot Adopt 10 years ago when she realized few options existed for rescuing neglected parrots and many of the organizations that did exist were set up more like prisons than rehabilitation centres.
“I found there was a real need for rescues and what was missing was a lot of the behaviour work,” she said.
Since opening, Parrot Adopt has rescued and adopted out more than 500 parrots, no small feat for a non-profit care facility run out of Daniels’ own home with. She runs the organization with help from her husband Brett and says keeping the parrots in her home with her family lets the birds receive the attention and love they need, especially since parrots can make for difficult pets for untrained owners.
Parrots can be very loud, they tend to be messy and they need to be fed both fresh and dried food regularly, while also requiring a large cage. They are also one of the longest-lived species of pet, capable of living 40 to 80 years, meaning taking on a parrot is a huge commitment.
Unruly parrots often develop bad habits like biting and screaming because of lack of owner education about their care and, in the worst cases, abuse.
In times of great stress and anxiety, parrots will obsessively pluck out their own feathers. Daniels has seen some heart-wrenching cases in her time — one parrot she adopted herself has lost all her feathers permanently.
Other sad stories abound among the dozens of parrots Daniels keeps — one large Macaw named Rocky came from a drug house where he was seldom fed and never kept clean. Another smaller bird has a paralyzed beak and chronic ear and eye infections from metal poisoning he got by chewing his cage bars.
Daniels says that while she will always accept a rescue in dire need, her preference is to help educate owners to be able to keep their pets and be happy with them.
“We try to help people keep their pets, to change their behaviour and to change the relationship,” she said.
Daniels travels to schools across Ontario to educate people about the care and joy of parrots and hopes to instill in people a love for the feathered friends.
“They are some of the sweetest, most affectionate animals around. They want to be part of a family,” Daniels said.