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8 Questions To Ask When Adopting A Pet Bird

Some adoption organizations cover the initial expense of taking in a bird, such as cage costs and vet care, but ask these questions as well before adopting your pet bird.

Jenny Drummey

Pionus parrots

Albert is a 10-year-old quaker parrot whose family is retiring and moving to a complex where pets are not allowed. He is friendly, healthy and is well-loved by his family.

Kiwi is a Senegal parrot whose family just had a baby, and they no longer have time to care for him. He is well-socialized and charming. Both of these parrots need new homes. Who can help?

Parrot adoption organizations can, and so can you.

Albert, Kiwi and others like them are placed for adoption every year. If you are new to birds, or if you are expanding your flock, consider the adoption option. Re-homed birds are no more difficult to care for than birds acquired through other means.

Working with a reputable adoption organization gives you access to a network of informed caregivers and dedicated volunteers. You also get flexibility. If the parrot doesn’t work in your home, many adoption organizations are willing to work with you to find a bird that does.

The Baggage Claim
Contrary to common opinion, most parrots that come to parrot adoption organizations are not abused or sick, and have no more behavior problems than parrots acquired through other means. Some claim that re-homed birds have too much baggage from moving from home to home, but birds are adaptable. They thrive with families who know how to care for them.

What’s more, many parrot adoption organizations work hard on socializing the parrots in their care and strive to convert birds on poor diets to a nutritionally sound one prior to adopting them out. Education is key, and good adoption groups offer continuing training to caregivers. There’s a lot to learn about bird care, and most parrots thrive when there is a clear understanding of their needs.

What To Ask When Adopting A Pet Bird
Navigate the adoption process with these important questions:

1) What costs does your group cover for adopting or fostering?
Specific questions to ask:

  • Is vet care included?
  • Is a cage provided?
  • Who pays for food?

Some groups pay for these basic expenses, but ask what's expected from your family from the start. If medical care is covered, find out which vets 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. Nail and wing-feather trims may also be covered.

2) How can I meet adoptable birds?
Specific questions to ask: Are they cared for in a facility or housed in a foster home? Does the group have events where I can meet birds looking for homes?

3) What are your organization’s care recommendations?
Some adoption and/or foster organizations have dietary guidelines, minimum cage-size standards and enrichment suggestions for the birds they adopt out.  

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 owner. Even if you've lived with parrots for years, there's always more to learn. The group may also offer individual support by e-mail or phone, and they should always be available to address questions.

5) Do I have to sign a contract?
Many parrot adoption organizations asks families who foster and adopt 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 contact information should
be provided clearly. Any fees
associated with adoption and/or the length of time of the foster period should also be clear.

6) What are the adoption fees?
The group may have standard adoption fees depending on the species, or base fees on the medical care the parrot required. Adoption fees are crucial to the continued success of the group, and cover vet costs, cage costs, program costs and the costs of supplies.

7) Is there a foster period?
Ask the group if you can foster first. It’s not uncommon for a parrot to start out in a foster situation to make sure there’s a match between the family and the bird. After a couple of months or so, the family can then decide if it wants to adopt the bird.

8) What happens if the bird doesn’t suit my family?
Many adoption organizations are committed to the bird for the remainder of its life and will work to re-home the parrot to a better fit.

Want to learn more? Check out these articles:

Are You Ready To Adopt A Bird?
Bird Adoption: Tips To Find The Best Match
3 Tips To Make Your Adopted Bird Feel Right At Home

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Posted: October 2, 2013, 12:00 p.m. PDT

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