I debated back and forth what to write about in this issue. I must admit, the past couple of months have been a challenge with regard to the incoming requests for relinquishments. It seems as though as soon as one parrot in the foster program is adopted, there are two waiting to come in. Over the past few months, we have seen a large number of macaws and large cockatoos enter the PEAC foster flock. At the time, this we have 6 macaws and one Moluccan in the foster program and 4 macaws, 2 Moluccan cockatoos and one umbrella cockatoo on the waiting list to possibly come into the program. We have been fortunate that the number of smaller parrots like Amazons, conures, and smaller macaws has kept pace with the adoptions of similar sized parrots. Our adoption numbers continue to be strong, considering our fairly regimented adoption process that people must go through to qualify. Though some in the bird community feel PEAC is a little too strict, I come back with the fact that we have not had a parrot returned to us after being adopted. There are, on occasion, those parrots that do not qualify for our program for various reasons; for example, a recent intake interview of a Hahn’s macaw who has severely attacked his own feet, twice in the past 6 months. After much review of the case with the owner and Dr. Cecil, no external triggers have been identified. We are continuing to work with the parrot’s owner while this parrot heals from his latest outburst. The next step may include the use of hormone-modulating therapy to help curb this mutilating behavior. In these situations, PEAC is left to make the difficult decision of whether this bird can be truly rehabilitated in a manner to make a good parrot companion. The answer will likely be that he is a better candidate for Best Friends Animal Society, who on occasion is able to take in parrots who do not fit the criteria for good companion parrot material, but need a place to feel safe and are cared for for the remainder of their lives.
Many of our members are not aware of the behind-the-scenes workings of PEAC, such as the difficult process that is involved in evaluating a parrot for the foster program. It is more often than not that when we do a home interview, the environment is inadequate for the parrot and we feel terrible having to leave these birds one more day in the conditions they are forced to live in; but foster availability is limited. This brings me to the main purpose of this issue’s director’s letter: we desperately need more foster volunteers. I need you, our membership, to help spread the word that we need more foster homes for our flock. It would be wonderful if we could get a small group of potential fosters together to do a day’s seminar with them and have them listen to the testimony of some of our more seasoned foster volunteers. I will never place more parrots in a foster home than the foster volunteer has adequate space and time for, as we will never become a warehouse for parrots. I would rather we remain with a smaller number of foster parrots that are receiving good training and care from their foster volunteers than having a large number of parrots spending countless hours in a cage with no interaction.
As you might have gathered from reading this letter, the number of parrots needing to be re-homed is reaching an epidemic level. The U.S. still produces 2.5 million companion parrots a year by small- and large-scale breeding facilities. Parrots’ long lives compound the problem, unlike more mainstream pets. Imagine how it works: year one, 2.5 million are hatched, year two carry over the 2.5M from year one and add another 2.5M, and do this over and over again for 10 years. The number you come up with should be 250,000,000. As a parrot lover, some of the decisions that have to be made as the Director are hard, and trust me, I do not ever make a decision without a great deal of thought. Each parrot that comes to PEAC is treated with respect and compassion, and we will always do our best to provide them with a positive future, even if that means driving to Utah or Arizona to deliver them safe and sound to another animal welfare organization.
In conclusion, our adoption numbers remain strong and promising. We have placed many birds into first-time bird owners’ homes and it is reassuring to see the excitement and willingness to continue to learn as much as they can about their new companion. Some of our more noted rescues include Surfer, a scarlet macaw who was found in the Sunset Cliffs area of San Diego, and who, despite his severe arthritis and advanced arterial sclerosis, is going to a wonderful home to live out the rest of his days in the safety and comfort of a family that loves him very much. Mia, a Moluccan cockatoo who once showed feather destructive behavior, has gone to a family of four and is fitting right in with her new owners and their two young girls. Then there is Grasshopper, an Eclectus male who was brought to PEAC by the Dept. of Animal Services, who picked his new owners who live in NM and travel to San Diego regularly and were willing to “jump through the hoops” to get qualified to adopt this very vocal green bird. So we do have great success stories that warm everyone’s heart. PEAC continues to grow and stretch to new limits while maintaining our ability to reach the public with education on these wonderful companion parrots and the plight many of them are now facing. Thanks to your membership renewals and continued donations, PEAC will continue to stand as a beacon of hope for companion parrots in the southern CA area.