Rising number of pet parrots in need of forever homes

In a pet-owning world long dominated by dogs and cats, parrots often fly under the radar. But just like their four-legged friends, there is a huge need for adoption - especially for an animal that can easily outlive its owners.

"A lot of people don't know it because the parrots are not a very publicized type of pet," said Renee Quimby, director of Parrot Adoption Education Program. "Cats and dogs get a lot more attention."

Quimby's parrot rescue in Lino Lakes currently has about 30 birds in its care. A visit to the program can get a bit noisy, especially since these are animals known for their chattiness. Mostly they sqwuak, but sometimes they talk.

"Lucky, over there, was taught by teenage boys. When it's quiet in here he'll drop the F-bomb. Another volunteer taught him to say 'I love you' instead of that, but he gets such a better response from swearing, he'll do that first," said Quimby.

Quimby began as a volunteer 15 years ago, but within a year or so had been asked to take over the rescue. In that time she has seen the need steadily rise. In 2003, she says, they helped about ten birds a year. Lately, it's been about 100 per year.

The reason, in part, is that with lifespans as long as 100 years, the birds can outlive or at least outlast their owners. Parrots gotten as pets decades ago can no longer be cared for.

"People are getting older, they've had their birds for a long time, they get sick, they have to downsize, they can't take their loud birds to an apartment," explained Quimby. "Family members don't want them because they didn't learn to like them when they were younger."

Parrot Adoption Education Program wants people to know the need exists for volunteers to help them care for the birds they have, donations to help pay for food and interested owners willing to adopt. They are not alone, noting there are several other parrot rescue operations in the Twin Cities alone.

For more information, click here and visit the PAEP's Facebook page.