ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – Dogs, cats, fish… these are the top three pets people keep in the U.S. number four—birds! Surprisingly more than 20 million people have a fine feathered friend in their home, making exotic birds the largest population of captive wildlife in America.
So, it’s not surprising that birds have become one of the fastest-growing groups of unwanted pets. Few animal shelters have the capacity or knowledge to take care of them. To save them from euthanasia, rescues are working diligently to keep these birds alive.
Small, big, beautiful, bald… Ellen Sherman has connected with thousands that have flown through her Parrot Rescue over the past 20 years. “this is Maya. Maya’s full of herself,” said Ellen Sherman, Owner and Founder of the Parrot Rescue.
Right now, Ellen’s caring for more than 200 parrots, cockatoos, macaws. “Gator came in, believe it or not, more plucked than this,” said Sherman. Bee is over 65 years old. “They didn’t want her anymore cause she didn’t talk,” said Sherman. Unicorn had her beak ripped off by a mating male. “She’s good, she learned how to eat,” said Sherman.
The traits that make parrots so intriguing are the same ones that make them extremely difficult to live with. First off, parrots are loud. They bite, they’re messy, they’re active and those large ones that everyone loves… can live up to 80 years. That’s why when someone comes to adopt one, they go through a rigorous adoption process.
“She’s feisty and lovable,” said Deborah Leibbrandt, who adopted her macaw a few years ago. “She’s making sure that the bird’s needs are taken care of. I think of it as having a two-year-old for life. If you think about all the needs of a toddler,” said Leibbrandt.
Those constant demands keep Ellen and her volunteer crew of eight busy. Although they grow what they can, food costs can run up to $2,000 a month. And Ellen fears her rescue will get busier if the economy forces more people to give up their birds. But Ellen says as long as there’s a need, she will find away. “When’s the last time I’ve had a day off? 20 some years ago,” said Sherman. She wouldn’t have it any other way.
Another concern for Ellen: fake avian sanctuaries are popping up—breeding warehouses full of exotic birds to sell over the internet. And private individuals who pose as a rescue just to turn around and sell the birds. Ellen’s Seminole County Parrot Rescue and sanctuary is a registered 501-C3 non-profit. She funds 75 percent of the costs herself; donations cover the rest. And during the pandemic, she has done all of the work herself. You can learn more on it on her Facebook page at Seminole County Parrot Rescue.
Contributor(s) to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Matt Goldschmidt, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.