We see a lot of posts online by caretakers who want their birds to go into a parrot sanctuary after they are no longer able to care for them. While this is an ideal situation for some birds, it is not a suitable environment for every one. Parrot sanctuaries are often wonderful places providing the closest a parrot can get to living in a free wild native environment. They are often able to live as part of a flock of their own species, and be as much of a natural bird as they can be.

But some parrots do not do well in this kind of environment. If a parrot is strongly socially enculturated to living in close relationship with people in a human home, they may not thrive in the group setting of a large aviary. They may not exhibit any interest in interacting with the other parrots and may languish without the types of interaction with humans that they are accustomed to and prefer. Age is often a factor in this, but a lot of it is simply a consequence of the individual personality and history of the bird.

BB, Feb 2023
BB, after 4 months in his new home

The Lesser Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo in the accompanying photos is a perfect example of a bird who did not adapt well to sanctuary life. He came from a loving home and was given a wonderful opportunity to live in a huge aviary with other cockatoos, plenty of fresh air, good food, and reliable medical care, but he did not do well. He did not interact with the other birds at all, and mostly isolated himself from everyone. He did not get along very well with the wonderful people that worked there, choosing to communicate his discomfort through biting and not showing the desire to interact with very many people.

Due to an encounter he had with one of the Parrot Caretaker Network founders, at the age of 32 and after 6 years in the sanctuary, he is now living in a home again. He is in a more comfortable environment and is doing considerably better.

We are entirely supportive of giving parrots the best possible lives, and in many cases that will be a comfortable life surrounded by their own kind and able to experience a more naturalistic flock life. But we encourage people to evaluate the needs and temperament of any individual bird before making a decision to send that bird into a sanctuary. If the bird needs to live in a household, please try to find a person who can assume the care for that bird when it becomes necessary. (This is the core of our succession plan concept.)