Rescued birds feeling the pressure of the coop

With a lifespan of about 50 to 100 years, and behaviors that include separation anxiety, various phobias and aggressiveness, parrots are often re-homed multiple times throughout their life as their owners pass away or cannot cope with behaviors.

Some birds however aren’t so lucky, and end up without any owners willing to care for them. Luckily this is where Anna Lawrence steps in. By starting local bird rescue, Birdline Canada Ltd, she has taken on this challenge as a full-time responsibility in an attempt to educate owners, and to find homes and a new lease on life for these colorful and inquisitive animals.

Being the only bird rescue in Calgary means that Lawrence’s sign always reads “no vacancy” and she says that because their bird rescue is home based and she can’t take in as many birds as the demand calls for. In fact she has a waiting list if a vacancy does arise

Produced by Travis Borstmayer

“People need to be accountable,” Lawrence says. “They’ve brought these animals into their lives, and it’s their responsibility to ensure that they have a place to go.”

African Grey parrots like this are some of the smartest in the bird family. Research has been done on one named Alex that showed he had cognitive abilities at or near the level of a two to three-year-old human.

Photo by Travis Borstmayer

Often the birds coming in have medical issues from things like improper diet, inadequate cage size or physical abuse. Since avian veterinary medicine is a specialized field, Lawrence says vet bills for one bird on a single visit can range from $300 to $400.

Although some birds present a challenge to potential owners, avian veterinarian Kerry Korber says that the IQ of birds can sometimes reach that of a two or three-year-old human. In one case, an African Grey parrot named Alex was able to identify different shapes, colors, sizes and numbers.

“Birds are phenomenal, they’re interactive, they’re beautiful and they can talk,” she says. “If you ever just stop and look how beautiful a birds eye is with their little eyelashes, and the perfectness of the feathers, I mean they’re wonderful pets.”

tborstmayer@cjournal.ca