was a normal living room a year ago," Marc Johnson explains
as he steps into a room now brimming with brightly-colored
birds. A dozen red and green macaws make themselves comfortable
atop their open wire enclosures or perched on the rope strung
around the room like Christmas garland. There is a chorus
of "hellos," and Floyd, a gregarious blue and gold macaw,
shifts his weight from side to side, dancing with delight
at Marc's arrival. Floyd should be glad to see Marc, who converted
his own home into the headquarters of Foster Parrots Limited,
a non-profit rescue and adoption service for mistreated and
unwanted pet parrots like Floyd. Some 200 birds representing
44 different species - most of them large, all of them loud
- now call Marc's New England farmhouse home.
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cares for the birds full-time, aided by just one paid employee
and a flock of up to 20 volunteers. "And at the end of the
day," Marc says, "I never feel like I've done enough."
and his staff take extraordinary care of "clients" like
does he do it all? Today, the Humane Society of the United
States (HSUS) estimates there are some 50 million pet birds
in the United States, making them the second most-popular
house pet behind cats and just ahead of dogs. Unlike cats
and dogs, however, pet parrots can live up to 100 years and
cannot easily be neutered or spayed.
These two facts mean parrot populations - especially when
bred for profit - can mushroom out of control.
Humane Society estimates there are some 50 million pet
birds in the U.S., making them the second most-popular
house pet behind cats and just ahead of dogs.
of these birds have the intelligence level of 2 to 5-year-old
children," he says stroking the nearest bird. "If you went
to work for eight hours and left your child in a playpen you
would wind up with a very maladjusted child."
While many pet parrots are well taken care of, a neglected
bird reacts more dramatically than a less than pampered pooch.
Without lots of attention and intellectual stimulation, neglected
pet parrots can develop psychological problems uncannily similar
to humans - aggression towards others or compulsive self-mutilation.
Most of the once-beautiful birds in Marc's care have plucked
birds often pluck out their own feathers, or those of
result is a squawking, sometimes violent bird that unprepared
pet owners are anxious to get rid of. Traditional animal-welfare
organizations are not prepared to care for these intelligent,
highly sensitive animals. And often these physically or emotionally
damaged birds face many years of pain, isolation or homelessness.
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