By Scott Malone HOPE VALLEY, Rhode Island (Reuters) - Like many a first-time parrot keeper, Marc Johnson had little idea what was in store when he got a bird to keep him company while he worked in his pottery studio. Back in 1989, the young artist scraped together $600 and bought a blue-and-yellow macaw. The bright plumage soon attracted the attention of passersby, who started bringing other birds for Johnson to take in. A quarter of a century later, Johnson has given up pottery and runs Foster Parrots, one of the largest wild-bird rescue facilities in the United States. This summer he completed renovations, transforming a chicken farm into a 20,000-square-foot (1,858-square-meter) sanctuary. Filled with nearly 500 screaming, squawking cockatoos, macaws, parrots and a variety of smaller birds such as parakeets, cockatiels and love birds, Foster Parrots is thriving. It fields 900 to 1,000 calls a year from bird owners no longer able or willing to keep their pets. A longevity factor comes into play. "There's a certain unwanted factor built into parrots. They are going to live to be 50-, 60-, 70-years-old," Johnson said in an interview at his facility in Hope Valley, Rhode Island, 30 miles southwest of Providence. "Parrots are not a domesticated animal, they are a wild animal." Parrots are known for their bright plumage and intelligence, but they can also be demanding. Without company and stimulation at home, the birds can take to biting people, destroying furniture or pulling out their own feathers. After dogs and cats, birds are the third-most-popular pet in the United States, but statistics on how many are kept vary widely. A 2012 survey by the American Veterinary Medical Association put the figure at 8.3 million birds of all kinds - smaller songbirds and larger exotics - while a 2013 study by the American Pet Products Association, a trade group, put the figure at 20.6 million. Johnson's facility, with six full time staffers and 30 volunteers, is one of a handful of large-scale bird rescue centers in the United States. Others include The Oasis Sanctuary outside Tucson, Arizona, and Phoenix Landing in Asheville, North Carolina. Ann Brooks, president of Phoenix Landing, said groups that work with parrots have difficulty keeping up with the volume of birds who are in need of homes. "We try really hard to stay focused on who we can help. Because if you think about who you can't help, it'll bring you to your knees," Brooks said. "There are such an abundance of birds who need homes. They are so, so smart and they require such unique care that I don't know if we'll ever find enough parrot-friendly homes." Parrots first gained popularity in the United States as pets in the 1970s and '80s, when specimens caught in the wild began appearing in pet stores. Their rain-forest origins and the ability of some species to mimic human speech held great appeal. While it is no longer legal to import exotic birds, U.S. breeders are adding to the supply of birds sold as pets. Many eventually make their way to rescue operations such as Johnson's, where birds live in a variety of accommodations including traditional birdcages, chain-link enclosures the size of small hotel rooms or, for the most human-focused ones, out in the kitchen. Johnson has to turn away most requests to take in birds, accepting or finding homes for about one of every 10. "Our goal is not to have more birds, it's to take better care of the ones we have," said Johnson, who has begun to add outdoor aviaries at the 23-acre (9-hectare) property. Some people involved in parrot rescue argue that breeders contribute to the population of unwanted birds. Al Decouteau, chairman of the Society of Parrot Breeders and Exhibitors, which has some 4,000 members, argues that breeders play a valuable role in preserving populations of birds whose natural habitat is threatened. "Of the 350 breeds of parrot, about 12 have become extinct in the wild but because there are breeders, those breeds have lived on," said Decouteau, a veterinarian who has been involved with the group for 30 years and has four birds of his own. Parrots' inquisitive natures and ability to interact with humans make it all too easy for animal lovers to fail to realize how difficult they can be to live with, experts said. "These are not easy animals to have as pets," said Irene Pepperberg, a Harvard University scientist known for a 30-year study of parrot intelligence focused on an African Gray parrot named Alex, who research showed had an intellect comparable to that of a 5-year-old child. Alex was 31 when he died in 2007. "I don't want to tell people that they are absolutely terrible pets," Pepperberg said. "But they are good pets for only a small percentage of people." (Reporting by Scott Malone; editing by Gunna Dickson)
- The Daily Beast
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty ImagesPolice and medical personnel were called to the Texas home of Sen. Ted Cruz Tuesday night after reports of a 14-year-old girl at the property suffering from self-inflicted stab wounds to her arms.The teen was taken to the hospital shortly after. It’s unclear who the girl was—though Cruz does have two daughters: Catherine, 11, and Caroline, 14.In a response to The Daily Beast, a representative for his office said: “This is a family matter, and thankf
- The Hill
Police are warning the public as a spike in violent "bank jugging" robberies is on the rise across Southern California, especially during the holidays.
Kirstie Alley Only ‘Recently Discovered’ Her Cancer Before She Died—Here’s the Form She Was Diagnosed With
Her friend and co-star John Travolta called her one of the "most special relationships I’ve ever had."
Herschel Walker's son says Trump called his father for months demanding that he run, while 'everyone with a brain' begged him not to
Herschel Walker was dogged during his Georgia Senate campaign by allegations including that he paid for women to have abortions.
- Fox News
People's Choice Awards: Shania Twain and Olivia Wilde go sheer on red carpet ahead of music icon's honors
Shania Twain, Olivia Wilde and Heidi Klum walked the red carpet where Lizzo and Ryan Reynolds were to be honored at 48th People's Choice Awards hosted by Kenan Thompson.
- Town & Country
The Princess of Wales paired the red dress with the Lotus Flower Tiara and Queen Elizabeth's diamond earrings for Tuesday night's reception at Buckingham Palace. See the look.
- LA Times
Five women, including two "Cosby Show" actors, have filed a sexual assault lawsuit against disgraced comedian Bill Cosby, NBC and TV companies.
UK says attacks on Russian bomber bases could be 'most strategically significant' force protection failure of the Ukraine war
The deadly drone attacks on the air bases housing strategic bombers occurred hundreds of miles into Russia territory, far from the front lines.
People are getting sick with mystery illnesses and testing negative for COVID, RSV, and flu. Here's why.
There are plenty of viral illnesses floating around this holiday season. Experts stress testing is key because it can lead to swift treatment.
Stuart Varney, once a loyal defender of the former president, criticized Trump on multiple fronts.
Princess Diana’s Former Butler Has a Harsh Suggestion for How Meghan Markle & Prince Harry Should Be Punished Over Bombshell Docuseries
Royalists are foaming at the mouth just waiting for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Netflix docuseries to premiere. They are ready to criticize the Sussexes at every turn, but Princess Diana’s former butler Paul Burrell wants to be heard ahead of the drama. He went to the thorn in the Sussexes’ side, Piers Morgan, to […]
It's Dior, darlings.
Two entities under The Trump Organization’s umbrella have been convicted of criminal tax fraud. It’s a first for Donald Trump’s company, set to tarnish the former president’s brand of successful businessman.
Twitter users, meanwhile, cracked ketchup jokes about the conviction of the former president's company for tax fraud.
The pink-haired Canadian country superstar performed a medley of hits plus her new single "Waking While Dreaming" & accepts the Music Icon award.
How Kate Middleton and Prince William Broke Their Social Media Silence After the 'Harry & Meghan' Trailer Release
Prince William and Kate Middleton’s much-hyped Boston tour took a bit of a backseat to the trailers for Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s Netflix documentary, but the Prince and Princess of Wales made their first social media posts following the 'Harry & Meghan' trailer release on Monday particularly interesting—and telling.
Kate Middleton announced a Christmas special going down on the exact same day as Meghan and Harry's Netflix docuseries drop.
Millie Bobby Brown and Jake Bongiovi made their relationship Instagram official in November 2021
- The New Voice of Ukraine
Ukraine has no limitation on the distance of its strikes on targets in Russian territory, a Ukrainian government defence adviser told the Financial Times newspaper in a report published on Dec. 7.
- Packers Wire
Wisconsin interim coach and defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard announced he is leaving the program. Could he make the short move from Madison to Green Bay for 2023?