I’m a volunteer with Mickaboo Companion Bird Rescue, an all volunteer nonprofit that works really hard to find, educate and support adopters for the hundreds of abandoned and surrendered pet birds in Northern California. It was started thirteen years ago by two women trying to help the homeless cockatiels they kept hearing about. Every day Mickaboo is contacted by people who for some reason or another, feel they can no longer keep their bird(s). (Check out this story entitled Bye, Bye Birdie on CBS News to get more info about the pet bird crisis.) Vets contact us when owners can’t or won’t pay for the care an injured or ill bird needs. Shelters call us because they know we’ll raise the funds and the transportation and people needed to get a cat-attacked stray the emergency vet care and home it needs and that they’re not equipped to provide.
All day, every day, the Mickaboo Discussion Group is a volley of e-mails back and forth about birds- everything from finches and budgies to cockatoos and macaws- that urgently need help and the resourceful volunteers figuring out how to provide it. Mickaboo volunteers also teach free Bird Care Classes throughout the Bay Area, attend and host Adoption Fairs, counsel pet bird owners and foster as many of the homeless birds as they can.
All the while this is going on, pet shops and breeders keep selling birds. This Sunday, I and three other Mickaboo volunteers staffed a table at the San Jose Bird Mart. It is incredibly hard to deal every day with more homeless birds than we can help and then spend time in a convention center filled with lots of sweet, innocent birds bred to be sold. Cages full of canaries, finches, budgies; row after row of cockatiels; sweet African Greys, gorgeous cockatoos- all of which are at profound risk of someday soon being homeless because they’re noisy or messy or bitey or expensive to care for- because they are being birds. We brought the adoption and rescue message to the buyers and breeders because preaching to the choir is never enough.
Adopting a bird from Mickaboo is a four-step process that requires attending a class, submitting a written application, completing a phone interview and having a home visit. It takes time (especially since we’re all volunteers and so running the organization in addition to our day jobs) and sometimes people get frustrated about the hoops they’re asked to jump through. But every single bird Mickaboo places has already been displaced once (and most multiple times) and Mickaboo’s mission is to place a bird successfully in a forever home. Mickaboo’s birds have already gone through the spur-of-the-moment pet store purchase that didn’t work, and given another chance, it makes sense to place them with care in homes with people who are informed and committed.
Yesterday, amongst all the Mickaboo e-mails requesting phone screens and emergency bird transport and help for a stranded sea bird, etc., one was a real showstopper. Mickaboo is being inundated with so many surrendered cockatiels that, unless more fosters and adopters come forward, they will have to be turned away. Cockatiels are the sweetest, gentlest, most innocent and forgiving of souls. They, like everybody else, deserve a home. And they need your help. Get involved. Go to www.Mickaboo.org to volunteer, donate, foster and adopt.
And, as a Commenter wrote in response to my last post, Be a responsible breeder: Don’t.
Photo copyright Elizabeth Young