When you decide to expand your flock by adding a bird to your family, you will choose between adopting a bird or shopping for one. If bird adoption is your preference, then you have to decide if you want to adopt through private owners or organizations, such as bird rescues or sanctuaries.
If you’re looking to adopt a bird through private channels, you can find available birds through word of mouth, online listings and notices posted at veterinary offices or pet stores. If you choose to go through a bird adoption organization, they may have more birds to choose from. Organizations also often have someone educated on how to deal with problems the bird might have and can help you through the process of healing or dealing with any issues.
Most bird adoption organizations begin with a screening protocol. They want to make sure adopters are not taking the commitment lightly and will be devoted to their new companions. This process can include interviews, home visits and a request for references (veterinary and otherwise).
Of course, it is important that you know what you are responsible for during the bird adoption process. Here are some questions to ask during this process.
1. What costs does your group cover for fostering or adopting a bird?
You’ll want to find out if vet care is included, if bird cages are provided and who pays for food. Some groups pay for these basic expenses, but make sure to ask what’s expected from your family from the start.
If medical care is covered, find out which veterinarian the group works with and which tests they cover. A well-bird exam, an avian chemistry panel and a complete blood count (CBC) are a good baseline. Fecal tests (gram stain and parasite check) may be on the list as well. A test for Chlamydia psittaci is important to screen for the most common zoonotic diseases (transmissible from animals to humans) that birds can carry. Nail and wing-feather trims also might be covered.
2. How can I meet adoptable birds?
When you’re looking to adopt a bird, the questions you’ll want to ask include: Are they cared for in a facility or housed in a foster home? Does the group have events where I can meet birds who need forever homes?
3. What are your organization’s care recommendations?
Some bird adoption and/or foster organizations provide dietary guidelines, minimum cage-size standards and enrichment suggestions for the birds they adopt out. The organization, as well as your bird’s veterinarian, can be a great source of information.
4. Do you offer educational resources and/or classes?
If classes are offered in your area, attend them before you adopt a bird, especially if you are a first-time bird parent. Even if you’ve lived with parrots for years, there’s always more to learn. The group also might offer individual support by email or phone and can be available to address questions.
5. Do I have to sign a contract?
Many adoption organizations ask families who are looking to adopt a bird to sign a contract. An adoption group that tracks and monitors the bird’s progress should ask you to do the same.
The contract should state what you are responsible for and what the group is responsible for and provide clear contact information. Any fees associated with adopting a bird and/or the length of time of the foster period also should be clear.
6. What are the adoption fees?
The group may have standard bird adoption fees depending on the species or base fees on the degree of medical care the parrot requires. Bird adoption fees are crucial to the continued success of the group and will be put forward to help plan for veterinary costs, caging and enrichment costs, administration and the costs of supplies. The cost to operate these organizations often is more than you realize.
7. Is there a foster period?
Ask the group if you can foster the bird first. It’s not uncommon for a parrot to start out in a foster situation to make sure the family and the bird are well matched. After a couple of months, the family can decide if they want to adopt the bird.
8. What happens if the bird doesn’t suit my family?
Many bird adoption organizations are committed to the bird for the remainder of her life and will work to re-home the parrot for a better fit. The group will do its best to listen for warning signs from upcoming families to decide if there might be an issue.
Adopting a bird, or any other animal, can be challenging but brings many rewards. Knowing an unwanted pet is in a safe home with a caring family and plenty of healthy food and enrichment is something you can’t buy.