LIVERPOOL – Starting at 1 p.m. on March 11 at the Liverpool Curling Club, visitors will have the chance to learn about and meet a wide variety of parrots up close, thanks to the Privateer Parrot Rescue group in Liverpool.
Diane Cooke, founder of the rescue group, says she’s always had a fascination with pirates and regularly attends the Liverpool Privateer Days.
“It wasn’t long before I married my love of pirates with my love of parrots to create a unique experience for people all over Nova Scotia,” says Cooke.
With a presentation of outfits and parrots, Cooke draws in large crowds and entertains the public while simultaneously educating big groups of people about the birds.
Cooke says she’s been fascinated with birds since she was a child, when her grandfather fed wild birds and taught her all about them. But, it wasn’t until roughly 2001 that she began taking care of companion birds.
Her initial interest didn’t start out with rescuing birds, but rather breeding small parrots such as budgies, lovebirds and cockatiels. Soon, it became difficult to find homes for the birds, or she’d learn that they had been resold within months. This made her realize that something more had to be done.
Thus began the Privateer Parrot Rescue group.
Most parrots will have an average of 10 homes in their first year alone, explains Cooke. As the third most popular pet, this poses a problem.
“Coupled with their long lifespan of up to 80 years, the growing numbers breeders are producing, and the illegal importations, along with people who are unequipped to handle a parrot’s demands, aging care givers, the large turn about in resale or simply just relinquishing the birds, the number of parrots in various rescues and refuges are growing at an alarming rate, rivaling cats and dogs,” says Cooke.
These birds, says Cooke, are also expensive and labour-intensive to maintain. They require specialized pellets that can cost anywhere from $140-$250 per 25-pound bag, daily fresh produce, lentils and legumes, as well as certain nuts. They are also extremely loud, aggressive and have a bite force up to 700 to 800 pounds during breeding season, says Cooke.
Because so many people fail to properly care for the birds, many rescue centres are overwhelmed with the numbers of birds in their care. Cooke says most of the more common rescue places in the province, such as the SPCA and SHAID animal shelter, do not deal with birds to the same extent as specialized parrot rescues. That’s where her group comes in.
Currently, Privateers and Parrots Rescue have 14 birds permanently in Cooke’s care. There are others that have been adopted to loving homes after thoroughly explaining the needs of these parrots. Cooke also has foster homes as back up in the event she gets an influx of birds or needs caregivers while she is away.
Funds raised from events like the one happening on March 11 help to raise money to care for the birds. Monetary donations are always welcomed, and the group also needs food for the birds, such as pellets like Tropican Lifetime Granules, Harrison’s pellets, gift cards for grocery stores to buy fresh produce as well as dog/cat carriers, wire kennels, large bird cages, and large parrot toys.
In the future, the Privateer Parrot Rescue group is hoping to fundraise for a van to transport rescues, cages and equipment back and forth to various areas of the province.
For more information, Diane Cooke can be reached via Facebook under "Privateer Parrot Rescue", by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or leaving a voice mail at 902-356-2633.
If you go:
March 11, 1 p.m. at the Liverpool Curling Club
$2/person, under five free. $2 extra to pose with a parrot