A little long… About rehoming a bird under your care and when it is the right thing to do.
In my opinion, the biggest thing about any pet ownership is learning that it isn’t about you. We are raised to consider our emotions first when dealing with animals, so unlearning it is a process, similar to what we have to learn when we become parents. It is what is best for the animal under your care that needs to be considered first, and your needs only after the animal’s needs are met. Your responsibility is even more intense then with humans under your care because animals cannot make choices that humans can.
I always told people that my home was a “forever home” for the animals we take in. My husband and I prided ourselves on providing life-long homes for any animal we took in. We’ve taken in an older African grey named Happy, two parakeets, a Maltese and many fish. After a 2 year search, we re-homed out first animal; a double yellow amazon named Rocko. Rehoming can get a bad rap, but it can be done out of a great amount of love and selflessness for the animal.
I took Rocko in about 4 to 5 years ago. He hadn’t had the best start in life and was a tad aggressive to people I was told. All I knew was that he was 7 and I was his 3rd or 4th home. I was told that one of the previous homes ran forks back and forth across the bars thinking it was funny. The woman who gave him to me was elderly and just wanted him gone. I had the option to take a much tamer bird but I felt worried for Rocko and was concerned that someone would take him who wasn’t prepared and he would end up in worse shape. At least I could provide safety and love for the rest of his life. He wouldn’t be put in a dark basement and forgotten about with us. I was apprehensive that I could tame him but my concern for his future led me to take him regardless. I felt I had enough experience to help him thrive. I was wrong.
Fast forward several years and no progress has been made. On the contrary, the serious bites we have received have given us a real fear of him. I would call them “attacks” rather than bites. I’ve had large bird experience but never with a juvenile bird oozing with confidence. I’ve been bit, obviously with birds, but never attacked. I had an African Grey and of course, was bitten on occasion but they were never serious. I had a Sun Conure, but was rarely bitten. I just didn’t understand the veracity of a large bird bite and assumed my past experience was enough to understand bites. I never had a bird that bit, held and twisted, trying to literally rip the skin off. I have a scar near my Achilles tendon where he got me.We made the biggest error of all, though, in letting the bites dictate our relationship with him. He bit, we retreated. It left him learning to get humans away all he has to do is bite, and we were left with a phobia of sorts, or at least very terrified of him. After repeated attempts to fly at our face, we were petrified of contact.
Our home isn’t appropriate for his level of outside the cage time, alone time that he needs. He needs to be able to explore and play, but in our small, cramped home, it isn’t possible. We have zero storage room. Every previous bird in my home had wanted to be around us so it made it possible for them to be out of the cage for hours every day. He can be possessive of his cage and the area around it so it became a serious issue for him to be out of the cage for long periods of time. Every time someone needed to use the bathroom, his “territory” needed to be breached to get to it. He would fly at our face, and with a 20 yr old child in the home, I had some serious issues to contend with. For the last year, his out of the cage time was reduced more and more. I tried to substitute with more toys and was going to upgrade his cage to a gigantic one, but I knew that wasn’t my first choice for him to live in a cage 24/7. I loved him enough not to want to do that to him. What he needed was the right human.
Our hearts were breaking knowing that Rocko was not doing well in his environment. For the last two years, I had kept my ears open for the right home because I knew what he really needed. One person offered to buy him from us and send him for breeding. I declined on the spot. He isn’t a commodity, to be used for income. He needed a HOME. Finally, in this group, I found someone in my state that was interested. I saw her home and she visited with Rocko last Sunday. In the hour she was here with him, she accomplished more than I had in 5 years. She got a hard bite but handled it like an experienced handler, and in that time, I realized his place was with her. It was hard for us to admit. Like I said, we always prided ourselves on being forever homes. We had to admit failure and we had to admit we failed him.
I know that rehoming birds can harm them psychologically but when the animal isn’t thriving, has only bonded with the family dog and you cannot provide what they need emotionally, physically and physiologically, then it is the most responsible thing to do. A new home needed to be a large step up for him and I wouldn’t rehome him unless it was… I was adamant that if I was going to rehome him then his next home would have to be his last! I couldn’t sleep knowing he wasn’t in the right home or was being passed around. We had to put our own egos aside and admit we could not give him what he needed even at the basic level. He went to her two days ago and we’ve already gotten videos of his progression. In one night, he was different than the bird we knew for a few years. When I saw him on her arm the first time she visited, I knew his place was with her.
I have Artemis, my Nanday, and in a separate cage, two parakeets that will be getting a larger cage asap. I took those two in after my stepdaughter’s friend said her mother threatened to let them out the window. That is what I can handle. I learned some huge lessons and am grateful that I did not compound that with my own ego for too long.
My point here is that we have a responsibility to these animals. Mistakes are made but you cannot compound them by insisting your ego and feelings come first. What is best for them is always your first priority, no matter how much it hurts you.
So, here is to Rocko and his new life with Casey Green… Thank you for taking him in, and allowing us to sleep at night knowing he is with an experienced bird owner that will give him the attention and life he needs. I have no doubt he will thrive with you. Thank you also for allowing us to remain in his life as extended family members