This empty stocking fund’s for the birds

Local rescue society needs food, items for brainy birds.

Brainy birds like this one will benefit from Greyhaven Exotic Bird Sanctuary's empty stocking fund.

It’s a Christmas wish list for our fine feathered friends.

Greyhaven Exotic Bird Sanctuary – B.C.’s only registered non-profit exotic bird rescue society – is seeking donations for its empty stocking fund.

The organization cares for and rehabilitates abandoned, orphaned, injured and unwanted birds, and offers lost bird recovery. It finds new homes for exotic birds, along with providing education and outreach programs to the public.

Greyhaven receives calls almost daily from people who want to give up their birds, says spokesperson Robin Fiorese, who lives in Port Kells along with a clutch of foster birds currently in her care.

Unfortunately, too many people aren’t prepared for the demands of owning an exotic bird – or their longevity.

“That’s the main problem, because they live so long, they will live in an average of seven homes in their lifetime,” Fiorese says, pointing out that a macaw, for instance, can live 80 to 100 years. Contrast that with a more traditional pet like a cat or a dog.

Pets outlive their owners, or are given up by people who realize – too late – that a parrot or cockatoo isn’t a good fit.

“People look at today and they don’t really look into the future,” she says.

The organization takes in around 200 birds a year. “I’ve probably got six birds that have shown up in the past two weeks.”

Most end up at the home of Greyhaven’s bird adoption director in Tsawwassen, but others are fostered out by volunteers across the Lower Mainland.

Founded in 1998, the society’s been without a home of its own for more than five years now, since leaving its former facility in the second floor of a plant nursery in Surrey, and is desperately looking for a new sanctuary.

“We want it to be a long-term thing. We need running water, heat, a place where people can get to and we can afford to pay the lease or rent, and the birds have to be safe,” she says.

Greyhaven is entirely volunteer-run, and relies on donations from the public to keep going.

This Christmas season, supporters can purchase an item from the society’s wish list at Feathered Addictions. Look for the link in under Empty Stocking Drive at www.greyhaven.bc.ca.

Items include rope perches, bird swings, tents, food, mineral blocks and toys designed to engage and amuse brainy exotic birds, highly intelligent animals that require mental stimulation.

There’s another way to help out –  and find something for you or the bird lover on your list. Under Greyhaven’s Books for Birds, a portion of online sales at Amazon.com will go back to the society. Visit Greyhaven’s website and follow the link.

Additionally, Greyhaven has also set up an account at Tisol’s Pet Food Bank. Visit the location nearest you, including: #103-20645 Langley Bypass in Langley, and #103-3010 152 Street, South Surrey.

Exotic birds aren’t for everyone. The attributes that make them so beautiful, intelligent and personable are the same reason why they are given up. They need a lot of mental stimulation, and if they’re unhappy they can be destructive.

“They’re like children who never grow up. They need toys. They need something to stimulate them.”

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