Birds Of A Feather 

Volker, a talkative yellow-naped Amazon, is a recent transplant to the Ocala area. When her owner passed away, the spirited 44-year-old parrot went to live with friends of the family. They quickly realized, however, they could not provide her the kind of attention she required.

During that time, she developed the self-destructive habit of plucking her own feathers. Thanks to the services of Florida Parrot Rescue (FPR), Volker is now thriving under the care of her foster mom, Donna Lampkins, in a home full of feathered friends. Lampkins is one of approximately a hundred caring souls throughout the state who form the network of volunteers that allow this vital not-for-profit avian organization to rescue, rehabilitate and place companion parrots in forever homes. 

“Should someone be unable to keep their bird for any reason, we want them to know there is a place to turn,” offers Vice President and Adoption Coordinator Jennie Parry. “We are non-judgmental and supportive in your time of need. Our goal is to provide a safe haven for birds that cannot stay with their owners and find them permanent homes with loving and responsible families.”

The group also provides guidance for those who already own a parrot or are interested in adopting. 

“We strive to educate owners on proper handling and care,” Parry explains. “It’s like having a toddler in the home that cannot care for itself and relies on you to know what it actually needs.” 

She stresses that parrots require regular veterinary checkups, human interaction, time outside of their cage, exposure to sunshine and bathing/misting for health and hygiene, as well as toys for enrichment and to ward off boredom.

“They require more care and supervision than most pets,” Lampkins offers. “Besides making sure they are loved and getting their diet right, their cages require cleaning almost every day. Their food and water dishes need changing several times a day. It’s a big commitment to take on a bird as a foster, as you may have them for quite some time before they find their forever home.”

Parrots can live between 15 to 100 years, depending on the species, so if you adopt a 20-year old parrot, there’s a chance they are going to outlive you. FPR offers a way for individuals to make provisions in their wills to ensure their birds are cared for after their deaths. 

Lampkins currently cares for six foster birds and has successfully placed two others. 

“My first was a beautiful Moluccan Cockatoo,” she explains. “Mango was with us for eight months. We were at a fundraising event called Fashion and Feathers when he met his new dad. He happened to be the DJ that night. Mango “chose” him on the spot. My second was a beautiful little white face pearled cockatiel named Snow White. She entered foster care because her elderly owner went into a rehabilitation setting. Both birds are thriving in their new homes. It’s so hard to see them go, because you grow to love them. But it’s also truly rewarding knowing that I had something to do with their happy endings.”

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