Nerd Rescue Sanctuary Volunteer and Adoption
Coordinator Connie Phillips with Mac, a Shamrock
Macaw, March 6, 2013, in Canton, Ohio.
Ohio — At one time or other, you might consider buying
a parrot. The birds remind us of warm breezes and sandy
shores, tempting us to shelve responsibilities and
Midwest winters and head south.
the impulse, in the immortal words of Jimmy Buffett, may
be "a permanent reminder of a temporary
feeling" — sort of like getting a tattoo while
on the breed, a parrot can live 50, 60, or 100 years or
more. Some, such as brilliantly colored large macaws,
are gauged to have the intelligence of a 6-year-old. Can
you imagine handling a petulant child that has a bite
force of 500-700 pounds per square inch and is not
afraid to use it?
much fun as that sounds like, it is only one of the
reasons so many birds, from conures to cockatoos, end up
being abused, neglected, abandoned or surrendered to a
group such as the Bird Nerds Rescue and Sanctuary in
probably get bit five times a week," said volunteer
facility manager Connie Phillips of Canton, at the
center last week. A bite, in the rescue’s vernacular,
is one that draws blood and doesn’t include painful
little warning nips.
of the birds living at the center will be lifelong
residents, so damaged in previous lives they need the
protection of the sanctuary. But most of the 18 birds at
the center were available for adoption.
fair warning before you run out to adopt: You might not
live up to the bird’s expectations.
right. The bird always has the final word. An adopter
won’t get the bird of their choosing unless the bird
agrees. If it doesn’t like you, it may turn you down,
no matter how stellar your reputation or pure your
each bird that enters the center already has four or
five people waiting to adopt its particular breed.
have a waiting list," said rescue founder Jen Yost
of Springfield, Ohio, who started the agency eight years
ago from her home.
not first come, first served here. Once we assess the
bird’s personality, then we choose the adopter,"
said Yost, but only if the bird agrees, she said.
adoption process can take several weeks and include up
to 10 hours of in-house visits and one or more home
visits. Even with the requirements, more than 960 birds
have been re-homed at the rescue in the past eight
isn’t that the birds are standoffish. Just like one of
Little Orphan Annie’s friends, the birds vie for a
visitor’s attention. "Pick me," they implore
with a raucous noise.
a relatively new resident, is a gorgeous shamrock macaw
that greets visitors with a cheery "Hello
trying to teach him to say ‘Hello, Bird Nerds,’"
Phillips said with a laugh.
Mack’s first chance to get attention. He then ups his
game by flirting -- bowing and claiming to be a
you are a macaw, Mack," Phillips corrects.
difficult not to fall for their ploys, from tail-feather
fanning to their constant barrage of whistles, words and
shrieks when they are happy. Still, a human-bird
relationship can’t be forced, said Yost. You will know
it when you see it.
are engaged, talking, displaying, their feathers are up.
There is light in their eye," she said.
rescue, at 4518 Lincoln St. East in Canton Township, is
open by appointment. Yost encourages anyone interested
in adopting a bird to read about the agency, its birds
and the process at ,
or call 330-617-3557.
listed on the site, range from $5 for a finch or
parakeet to $550 for a large macaw. The fees pay for
medical expenses which can reach thousands of dollars to
repair human-caused damage, illness, feather plucking
that can accelerate to self-mutilation, food and
building expenses. And while the agency is not a
nonprofit, the adoption fees and donations almost paid
for the agency’s mission for the first time last year.
is never, ever, a time when money goes into our
pockets," Yost said.
she would love to see every bird in the agency’s care
go to a loving home, the reality is, not everyone is cut
out for ownership of a strong-willed bird. The birds,
which mate for life, generally bond with only one or two
people in a home.
you want a pet for your family, get a dog," Yost