Beak Speak

Before you add another family member to your flock, learn about animal adoption.

Perhaps a pet came in the form of an unprecedented, and unwelcome, gift. Or, maybe a child who wanted a puppy lost interest in taking care of him. Maybe, the responsibility of a furry or feathered family member has become bigger than anticipated. In sum, a variety of scenarios can lead to the vast amount of pets currently homeless and those that are put up for adoption, in shelters or foster-care situations. Whatever the case may be, families can help cease this trend by doing as much research as possible about an animal before adopting it as a pet and being realistic about the care for the pet.

Something else to consider before purchasing a pet is to get informed about adoption. The local organization Feathered Friends Parrot Adoption Services, Inc. (FFPAS) specializes in re-homing the many parrots that are unfortunately turned over to it for care and possible adoption. Headquartered in Queens, it is the only organization in New York City devoted entirely to the parrot species.

Formerly known as Maspeth Bird Haven, Inc., FFPAS was incorporated as a nonprofit in January 2005. Run by my husband, Barry, his son, Peter, and me, FFPAS is an adoption/rescue organization that helps to find new homes for parrots that people give up because they can no longer take care of the birds.

Parrots make for loving, gentle and intelligent pets. However, the care they require is very different than that of cats or dogs. Parrots are a lifetime commitment, as most species live longer than cats or dogs. Many people do not realize this when they decide to bring home a parrot.

Research should be a key factor in the decision to adopt a parrot, which would bring great joy to your family if the bird is compatible with you. If you are considering adopting a parrot, you and your family members should surf the Web for information and check out the Avian Welfare Coalition's site at www.avianwelfare.org. It's crucial to find out what you need to know and do to take care of a parrot before you adopt. Some parrots are loud, while others are quieter in nature. And where your family lives may be a big factor in which type of parrot to adopt. For example, if you live in an apartment, we would recommend adopting a cockatiel, a lovebird or a Green-Cheek Conure.

FFPAS has found homes for more than 100 parrots since the organization's inception. Re-homing a parrot is no easy task, especially as there are many rescue organizations around the country that have just as many birds seeking new families.

Unfortunately, some of the birds that come in are not adoptable for various reasons. FFPAS finds the parrots a home in a place like a bird sanctuary if possible. For instance, we had a pair of cockatiels come to us for adoption that we were told were 2 years old, but we found out that they were actually 15 and 17 years old. This is quite old for cockatiels. FFPAS contacted the sanctuary in Warwick, New York, known as Sunnyskies Farm. Those cockatiels are now living there with other members of their species. FFPAS also placed at the sanctuary a family of three inseparable parakeets for which we could not find a home. While many people do not like to adopt more than one or two birds at a time, some parrots have too strong a bond to be separated. These birds were lucky to find a forever home at Sunnyskies Farm because the facility has an open aviary in which the birds may fly. Another bird that came in for adoption was a Ducorps Cockatoo that was abused by its former owner. This bird's feathers were so plucked from abuse that no one wanted her. We ultimately found her a home with The Priceless Parrot Preserve in Ridge, New York.

Of course, FFPAS has a soft spot for feathered friends. And when certain birds are not adoptable, we give them a forever home with us at our Queens headquarters. Although space is limited, the birds are given care, love and security.

One of our permanent residents came to us about two summers ago. As a man was barbecuing on his deck, a Sun Conure landed on his shoulder. The man could not keep the beautiful bird. He was able to contact FFPAS through 911Parrot Alert, an international lost-and-found database. We went to Brooklyn and brought home the Sun Conure, posting her for adoption online for a period of 30 days. Although no one contacted FFPAS about this particular bird, she forged a strong bond with my husband and me. Taco, our name for the bird, is now 5 years old and a member of our FFPAS family. Other family members include Onyx, a Nanday Conure, and Maya and Marco who are Orange-Winged Amazons. Onyx, Maya and Marco love to fly around, chase each other and visit each other's cages.

FFPAS has been fortunate in finding homes for many types of parrots. We scrutinize all applications and even conduct a home visit before finalizing an adoption. To see the types of parrots that we have helped to find homes for and to learn about birds currently up for adoption, check out our Web site at http://mysite.verizon.net/vzermrgu.

Please remember to do your research before you adopt any animal into your family. With the right love, care and attention, you and your pet may share a special bond that can last a very, very long time.