Fostering a Rescue Parrot - How it Helps and Is it Right for You?
Parrot rescues and sanctuaries all over the county and in many parts of the world are providing a very important service to parrots. When a pet bird is no longer receiving the care it needs, its owner passes away or is no longer willing to provide for them, parrot rescues take on the responsibility in order to find them a suitable home, provide proper nutrition and give them the medical care they need. This service prevents those vulnerable animals from being released into the wild, which often leads to their demise. It also helps ensure that animals that are neglected or receiving subpar care have a place to go to improve their quality of life.
A Typical Fostering Situation
Let's come up with a scenario to better understand how a person might become a “foster parront” Let's say we go to our local parrot rescue. We are thinking about adopting but are still undecided, or we might be interested in volunteering with the rescue to help out.
There are birds of many species there and the owner tells us that they are simply too crowded and may have to start turning birds away or putting them on a waitlist before they can take more in.
The owner then asks us if we would be willing to foster a parrot in their care. They explain that they would give you food, pay for any medical expenses and provide a cage with the bird so we could take that bird into our home temporarily until a suitable, permanent home is found for them.
They also state that by taking a bird in, it would give us more experience with parrot care to help us decide if adoption is right for us and could help them identify any issues the bird might face in a new home.
This situation is a common way that a person comes to foster a parrot. Oftentimes when someone is new to parrots, taking a bird into their home temporarily and spending time observing them shows that there were things about parrot care that they never even considered.
Or maybe they find that the bird has behavioral issues that the rescue was not aware of like biting or loud vocalizations that might need to be addressed before adoption can take place. Medical issues can also be discovered this way since the bird will be getting more observation than it might in a crowded rescue.
Diet conversion from an unhealthy diet to a healthier one can also happen at a foster home which can help the rescue and the bird significantly.
Bird Street Bistro has delicious, healthy products that have helped many parrot owners and rescues in the transition process. One example is their Cinnaspice Delight food blend!
Fostering a rescue parrot can benefit both the humans involved and the bird. Let's take a look at how.
How it Helps the Human
Helping an animal in need feels good and can be very rewarding for anyone involved. But it can also help someone to learn more about parrot care and behavior without committing long term.
Because the rescue where the bird is coming from is already providing support both financially as well as educationally, it is a great way to see if parrot ownership is a good choice. As long as the foster person is following directions carefully and takes their responsibility seriously, the whole process can be enlightening and rewarding.
Fostering an animal can be beneficial in more ways too. On June 21st, 2023 the International Journal of Environmental Research published information that stated “We found that companion animal fostering can be considered health-promoting for human and non-human animals.” They state that “Much of the literature about fostering focuses on the benefits of animal welfare, but fostering may also be health-promoting for humans.” It has been known for a while now that caring for and bonding with animals has been therapeutic for some people and can promote mental wellness.
How it Helps the Bird
Because of overcrowding and a lack of resources in many rescues across the country, many parrots that are placed into a rescue don’t get as much one on one time as would be ideal. Many staff members in these facilities are stretched thin and rely on help from volunteers and foster homes to help ease the burden of caring for so many birds. But they can also help the birds in large ways by giving them some extra attention.
Previous owners provide as they can about the bird including their eating habits, behavioral issues, fears, and personality information. However, until a bird has had time to settle into their new home, it is nearly impossible to really understand what a bird struggles with and needs in the long term. This can include behavioral problems or medical issues that have gone unnoticed. Granted, some birds have very few issues and adjust quite well to new homes. When someone agrees to foster a bird temporarily, it gives them a chance to pay closer attention. By doing so and addressing any issues that are found, it increases the chances that the bird will go to a home that will be a good fit. This helps prevent the re-surrendering of the bird to the rescue which can be very stressful for a bird that is already struggling with being rehomed previously.
The "Foster Fail"
Something you might hear of on social media and in forums is the foster failure. Sometimes, when someone fosters a parrot and gets to know them, they decide to adopt them instead of just keeping them temporarily. This is definitely a happy ending for the bird in most cases. It means that someone that has become familiar with them has decided to provide them a permanent home. In many ways, this is the ideal situation for the individual bird and has led to many happy forever homes.
However, this isn’t always ideal for the rescue. When someone adopts a bird, they often no longer have the space or time to help with future parrots that need foster care. It depends on the rescue that you speak to, but there have been situations where foster homes become less available due to this happening - causing more need for them. It could be argued that it evens out because a home became available that wasn’t there in the first place, so it continues to be a topic that is discussed within the rescue community with varying opinions.
Any time a bird goes into a new home, be it permanently or temporarily, it is still an important commitment that should be taken seriously. Fostering can be an excellent choice that can greatly benefit the bird and the rescue if done properly. It is important for the person taking a bird in to follow instructions carefully, and for the rescue to provide adequate support throughout the process. If you are interested in fostering a parrot, contact your local parrot rescue for more information.
Roseveare C, Breheny M, Mansvelt J, Murray L, Wilkie M, Gates MC. Companion Animal Fostering as Health Promotion: A Literature Review. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2023 Jun 21;20(13):6199. doi: 10.3390/ijerph20136199. PMID: 37444047; PMCID: PMC10340564.
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