With all the attention that I have been receiving since Kili's performances on TV, I'd like to take a moment to write about a cause that is very dear to me: parrot rescue. Countless numbers of parrots are being rehomed, released, euthanized, or neglected every year mainly due to the irresponsibility of their owners. Other times it has nothing to do with irresponsibility but unforeseen circumstances. My personal approach is to try to be as responsible of an owner as possible but also to prepare my parrots for unforeseen circumstances so that any changes would be bearable for them.
There is one rescue in particular that I believe deserves special attention and I hope can act as a model for other such organizations. I'm talking about Ginger's Parrot Rescue in Phoenix Arizona which specialized in Senegal Parrot rehabilitation. Ginger takes in unwanted Senegal Parrots and turns their life around. Usually these birds end up in rescue because of problems that irresponsible owners caused such as biting, plucking, or screaming. However, Ginger personally works with each bird and prepares it for a new life in a new home.
Unlike most typical rescues, she does not simply stick the bird in a cage on display until someone willing comes around to adopt it and take on a whole project. Instead, Ginger applies her refined understanding and experience of Senegal Parrots to erase the bird's troubles and present it as a trouble-free and desirable pet. Most rescues operate on the principle of pity. That is the bird has a terrible past and the rescue hopes to find someone compassionate to take on the bird out of pity. The trouble with this approach is that beginner owners that choose a rescue over a baby parrot in this case are often destined for failure because they are not experienced enough to be able to cope with a difficult rescue bird. On the other hand, the more experienced owners end up reaching their capacity of how many parrots they can keep too quickly for the rescue to be able to continue homing the flood of birds coming in. For these reasons, I think Ginger's approach is more sustainable in the long term. She takes in a limited number of parrots and all of the same species. She exposes them to a flock of similar parrots to learn a suitable way of life.
The modeling approach that Ginger employs is very successful. Parrots new to the flock quickly transition to a healthy diet, learn to step up to come out of the cage, and become sociable toward humans. This is a much more effective approach than a person adopting that parrot outright from its originator. You see Ginger has the patience, specific species expertise, and same species flock behind her to ensure success. If someone adopts a problematic rescue parrot directly, the likelihood of failure is substantially higher and only puts the parrot on a tour of rehoming. This type of failure becomes even harder to undo down the line. So by breaking the chain and establishing results with the parrots, Ginger is able to ensure a greater likelihood that the adopters of these parrots will not need to rehome them again due to past problems.
By providing "handfed baby from the pet store" quality parrots (or better), Ginger's parrots are competitive against breeder babies. This is the best part of the approach because it provides a realistic rescue option for less experienced parrot owners. Not only does this approach find a home for a parrot that requires one but it also reduces demand for baby parrots. Another novelty of Ginger's approach to adopting out parrots is that she makes extensive measures to socialize the parrots with potential adopters. Adopters need to visit the parrots at the rescue as well as the parrot visiting the adopter at their home. Ginger helps guide interactions between parrot and potential adopter to ensure that everyone has a good experience. Not only does Ginger work with the parrots but also with adopters when it comes to education. Ginger helps adopters set up a diet, schedule, and daily routine that ensures that parrots remain tame and everyone is happy.
I have personally visited Ginger's rescue twice now. The first time was during my summer stay in Phoenix for the Parrot Wizard Bird Show and Seminar. The second time was recently during my hurricane escape and trip to Chicago. I provided Ginger with a lot of tips and training guidance since my first trip and was thrilled to see a lot of results during the months in between. It was also exciting to see many of the same birds I met last time (although I would prefer if they were already adopted). Neither the first nor second time have I been bit by any of Ginger's parrots. I would just walk into her cage room and take all the birds out one at a time. Almost all of them (except the recently added birds that haven't received enough work yet) would step right up on my hand without biting so I could take them out. I'm not sure if the birds remember me since last time or my approach is successful but I can tell you that it works consistently.
I'd like to end this article by describing 3 ways you can help Gingers Parrots. The best thing you can do is adopt a parrot. Don't adopt a parrot you don't need/want. However, if you are looking for a Senegal Parrot baby, consider adopting a Senegal from Gingers Parrots instead. Her older parrots are as friendly and easy going as a baby except they have these traits long term as opposed to the baby that stays sweet until it matures. If you're not located in the Phoenix area or not in the position to adopt, another great way to help is to donate. The best way to donate is to sponsor a parrot! This is a small monthly amount that will help ensure that an individual parrot can get the best possible food, toys, and supplies at the rescue until it is adopted. You will be kept informed about the bird through photos and videos. Alternately you can make a one time donation of any amount. Every little bit helps. I'm sure the rescue takes cage/supply donations as well (call/email Ginger if you want to send supplies). Finally, there is an easy way that absolutely anyone can help is by spreading the word. The more people that know that this rescue exists, the better the chances that an adopter or donor can participate. So even if you cannot adopt or donate, please share the link to the website and facebook page with all the parrot lovers you know.