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Homeless Angels

Homeless Angels

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.

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Photo copyright Elizabeth Young

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7 comments

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8:20AM PDT on Jun 22, 2009

God Bless you for doing a great, humane thing by helping one of God's creations. All animals are blessings from God and deserve to live the way God intended in the habitats God intended.

7:51AM PDT on Jun 21, 2009

This is a very tragic and heartbreaking issue! I never thought that there was a crisis with the birds, because the media tends to focus on cats and dogs in the shelters.

I also applaud the 'Mickaboo Bird Rescue' for all that they do for these beautiful creatures...

7:16AM PDT on Jun 20, 2009

People should be taught the responsibilty of pet ownership before embarking on a buying spree of animals... like children they need 24 hour care, and it is a lifetime committment. Birds should not be kept in captivity as far as I am concerned they should be free to lfy the skies.

9:55PM PDT on Jun 19, 2009

Sadly, I know all too well the severity of this homeless pet bird crisis. Our local animal shelter is full of beautiful exotic birds who were surrendered either because the owner just could not afford it anymore because of financial problems or because they were people who thought a bird would be like a house ornament: no need to feed, clean, or love it. It's really sad, every day people buy birds on a whim at a pet store and then discover that it's not what they expected and either pass it on to another clueless person, release it into the wild, or give it up to a shelter.

These people at Mickaboo are doing a wonderful thing, but that is not enough. We need to inform the public so that they will stop buying these animals before thoroughly researching them, and get breeders to stop breeding them if they don't have a waiting list of responsible, knowledgeable buyers. People need to control themselves and stop being so selfish. The pet overpopulation problem and lack of homes for them all is just getting out of hand!

8:58PM PDT on Jun 19, 2009

Mikaboo is doing a great service to the bird community.

In 2005, I adopted a bird from Phoenix Landing Foundation in Arlington, VA. It was wonderful to bring this little gem home with me, introduce him to his new sibling, and watch the transformation from a silent, skittish recluse to a friendly songster who wanted to be in the center of it all.

It just takes some love, respect and kindness.

7:03AM PDT on Jun 19, 2009

I think that is great that someone cares enough about the bird population to take care of them.
The vets are cutting their own throats by charging so much, its a sin!
Most people want to keep their own pets, but with the price of a vets bill when the pet gets sick is so far out they just cant afford to pay that kind of money.
It is so nice to know this organization will take homeless birds in and care for them!

6:38AM PDT on Jun 19, 2009

I had no idea that we are having this problem with birds. I have known people where I came from who bred Cockatiels and even she was having a problem finding homes for the babies. I never thought we had a breeder problem with birds also. I personally would want a bird from some place other than a pet shop, because the birds you would get (parakeets, cockatiels) are usually very wild and often are terrified if you put your hand in the cage. I applaud you for what you do before you adopt a bird out.

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