EAST CANTON, Ohio (AP) — A deafening screech can be heard in every room at the Bird Nerds Rescue and Sanctuary.
“They’re going to do that,” director Connie Custer said. “They’re going to want attention.”
But, like children, Custer said it’s sometimes better not to give the parrots what they want. It prevents them from developing “bad bird habits.”
The noise is one factor that can wear on unprepared bird owners. Custer said the average bird is re-homed as many as two to eight times in its life. Bird Nerds has attempted to end that cycle by housing and caring for neglected, unwanted and abused parrots. They also offer sanctuary services for people who cannot care for the birds in their home.
“If you honestly want to do right by your bird, then you’ve got to start out with your research,” Custer said.
The rescue took in 526 parrots in 2013 and 366 in 2012. Birds such as Mac, who has laid claim to an armchair in the rescue’s front room; Apollo, who grips cage bars with his feet and beak to turn upside down and right-side up; and Sammy, who broke a $25 lock to escape from his cage.
Then there are birds like Frank, a green Quaker who plucked himself because of neglect and a poor diet. The feathers, pulled out at the follicle, will not grow back on his bare, goose-bump skin.
Rittman resident Kristine Fincham was in the process of adopting 18-year-old Sassy, a Citron Cockatoo who is similarly plucked. Scarlet, a red Eclectus she previously adopted, climbs from her arms to her shoulder as she visits the rescue.
“I snatched her up, and I love her to pieces,” she said.
Fincham also has Cody, a Severe Macaw who came to the rescue with a broken wing, foot and heel bone because his owner threw him against a wall.
Custer said about 1,400 birds have found a permanent home in the rescue’s eight years. It began under the direction of Jennifer Yost at an Akron home, taking in about 40 birds a year. Bird Nerds moved to East Canton three years ago and can now accommodate up to 200 birds. Adoption fees help pay for business operations, and all employees are volunteers.
“We do it because we want to do it,” Custer said.
Because many birds have mental or physical issues, potential adopters must spend at least 15 hours with their parrot before taking it home. The bird has to like its new owner as well, and Custer said they watch for signs in the dilation of the eyes or puffing of feathers. It often takes time for the birds to warm up to new owners because of their past, so Custer said people shouldn’t expect “instant gratification.”
The adoptions are closed, but Custer contacts both parties every few months to check in. If a bird is being abused or used for breeding in its new home, she said the rescue will take action to regain ownership. Volunteers help educate the owners about bird care during the process to prevent parrots from being surrendered or neglected.
“The more people are educated on exotics, then maybe, hopefully that will cut down on so many of them being bred,” she said. “People don’t realize how much time and effort it takes to own a bird.”
The rescue also helps people who need to complete community service, and in the fall of 2013, the staff started a high-school program where students can volunteer in exchange for donated formal wear.
Information from: The Repository,