Tropical parrots are among the most exotic, beautiful, and intelligent creatures
that may be kept as domesticated pets. As such, they’re always in demand. But caring for the birds — which are known for their colorful plumage, hooked bills, and blunt tongues — is a massive responsibility that many owners are unable or unprepared to handle.
“Parrots are very long-lived,” notes Judy Tennant, founder of Parrot Partner, a rescue and rehabilitation center based in Ottawa, Ontario. “Some of them can live for up to 80 years.” Many people are forced to give up their birds for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is how demanding they are, she explains.
“They are wild animals — semi-tame,” the bird handler and trainer says, noting that there are very few places for relinquished birds to go today due to the heavy demands of their care.
“We offer a place that will take care of them and train them,” Tennant says of Parrot Partner, which she formally launched in 2011. “We have a veterinary technician on staff, and I’ve got a background in exotic animal training and behavior modification.”
Beyond rescuing birds that need a new home, Tennant and her staff work tirelessly to educate current and prospective parrot owners. Their goal is to foster informed, responsible parrot care.
“It’s a very specialized service we offer — and I love it, obviously,” confesses Tennant, who was an educator specializing in leadership development and organizational behavior prior to founding her organization. “I’ve dedicated my life to it.”
Tennant’s passion for parrots inspired her to enter Intuit’s Small Business Growing Strong campaign. Her wish: to give all of the parrots she rescues a place where they can fly again.
“What we’re wishing for is an outdoor aviary to house parrots who have been relinquished or given up,” she says. “These birds are meant to fly. If they don’t, it’s like having a dolphin in a bathtub.”
Tennant thinks an aviary represents the only chance these birds will have to fly somewhat freely again. Domesticated birds, after all, rarely survive if reintroduced to the wild. Over time, a parrot’s natural survival instincts — including their ability to find food — are severely diminished.
Today Intuit granted Tennant’s wish to build a new aviary for her beloved birds.
“This is amazing,” she says. “These guys [the parrots] struggle without being able to fly, and they are really going to just blossom because of this. … They are going to be able to play together, fly together, and hang upside down from branches.”
Tennant says she gets teary-eyed when she thinks about it. “We have 20 parrots right now, and we will probably be able to take on more because of this. Imagine 20 parrots being ‘let loose’ for the first time in years. The improvement in their health, happiness, and disposition is going to be overwhelming.”