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Dear Parrots magazine,

Where there’s a will, there’s a way

Nearly four years ago a 44 year-old relation of mine had a riding accident which left her brain damaged.  She spent many weeks in hospital - five of them fighting for her life.

For the best part of 20 years she had been rescuing and rehabilitating parrots at her home and was extremely knowledgeable about the needs of these intelligent creatures.  Inside there were 11 pet parrots of different species in a large conservatory, outside she had 11 African Greys and a Timneh Grey in a large aviary.  In another small aviary she had a cockatiel and two slightly disabled budgies and there were also three large dogs and one elderly chicken hen to look after.

Not wanting to make drastic changes that may upset her when she returned home and in the hope the parrots would give her stimulation and an incentive to get back on her feet, her partner and daughter struggled along and kept everything going as best they could.  But when she returned home it became clear to me her emotional state had changed.  I knew I would have to step in, and in a gentle but firm way persuaded her to let me rehome her parrots.

One by one, and with lots of help from people I trusted and have known for many years, I rehomed 10 of her 11 pet parrots with people I knew were knowledgeable and caring.  I left her with one pet African Grey, the one she had had the longest, and with whom she shared the strongest bond.  I just hoped she would be able to take good care of her beloved Webster, but so far so good.

Outside the budgies died one by one and the cockatiel is now being cared for in the house.  The 11 African Greys and Timneh have become 10 through natural causes, but she manages to feed and look after these.

During this past summer, my relation called me to say there were two parrot eggs, laid five days apart, on the floor of the inside section of the outside aviary.  This had happened once before, but the embryos did not survive on the cold floor - even with the dedicated care of the parents.

I suggested she leave the eggs where they were, but put down extra wood shavings near the eggs, with the hope the parent birds would make a nesting area.  We both knew the chances of these eggs hatching were extremely slim and the last thing she really needed was more parrots.  I had been actively trying to find a respected sanctuary, without success, which would take the colony of Greys.

The pair of Grey’s went on to make a nest from the shavings and rolled their eggs onto it, protecting them from the cold concrete floor, but still we did not think the eggs would hatch, even if they were fertile.  My relation generally leaves everything in her aviaries to nature and does not interfere, and at the end of August I had a call to say the first chick had hatched!  Six days later the second hatched!

This is a mixed sex colony aviary and there is no rivalry within the group.  There has also been no attempt to harm the eggs or chicks by the other birds.  These chicks not only survived, but they are now big, strong and healthy, and at the time of writing are climbing around and will soon be flying.

The colony of Grey’s are well fed and cared for, they have toys and swings etc for stimulation in their inside aviary and in their outside flight they are left with as little interference as possible.  

These young parrots will grow up, as near as is possible in captivity, to know a flock situation, as they do in the wild. They would make ideal breeding birds as psychologically they will be well balanced and would go on to parent rear themselves, if indeed we could find a genuine breeder who allows his/her parrots to parent rear.

These parrots are not going to end up in small breeding cages with no stimulation and used as breeding machines.  These young parrots have survived because “Where there’s a will there’s a way.”  The parent birds certainly showed the “will” and determination to raise their chicks against all the odds.

Pam Fryer, email



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