‘Leave these birds in the wild’: Parrot sanctuary has served Peachland for over 2 decades
Ray Parkes and his wife Valerie rescue exotic birds.
“This is Rosco. He’s a blue and gold macaw,” Parkes said. “We’ve had him for over 20 years. I think someone just didn’t put up with him and he ended up here.”
Parkes says people don’t understand what they are getting into when they choose to buy an exotic bird as a pet.
“Most baby parrots you find are hand-fed babies,” Parkes said. “So they grow up thinking they are human and, when they sexually mature between five and six years old, they pick a human mate. Once they’ve done that they will not tolerate anybody else around them.”
Because of this issue, owners find themselves unable to take care of these birds and they end up in sanctuaries like Parrot Island.
The refuge opened in 1997 with a mandate of educating the younger generation.
“In 2008 there were 2 million unwanted parrots,” Parkes said. “The last time I read there were about 7 million.”
Parkes lists habitat and pet trade as two main reasons why many of these exotic birds are now becoming extinct.
“The Hyacinth Macaw. That’s the same bird that’s in the movie Rio. There’s only about 200 pairs left in the wild. The Spix Macaw: there’s only one bird left in the wild.”
In addition to public education, the sanctuary also considers foster situations for single households.
“We do foster them out one-on-one,” Parkes said. “We very seldom place them in homes with families and couples because it usually doesn’t work. Our success rate is quite high.”
Parrot Island is a non-profit organization that relies on community donations of food supplies such as hazelnuts, tea biscuits and fruit, as well as monetary assistance.
Entry fee to the sanctuary is $6 per adult and $4 per child. Visitors are encouraged to call in advance during fall and winter months as the sanctuary in not open daily.
For more information, please visit Parrot Island.
© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.