Well-meaning humans often buy pets without realizing the amount of care and attention that will be required. Birds and parrots, in fact, can be more labor intensive than dogs and cats. They require special treatment. Birds can also be loud and messy. Therefore, when people purchase birds from exotic pet stores without knowing what’s required, they will often mistreat the birds or give them up for adoption as too labor-intensive.
Many adopted parrots perish or live lonely, miserable lives. The lucky ones find their way to Project Perry, a Parrot Sanctuary just outside Louisa.
Last Sunday, Nancy and I were invited out to visit the birds in their homes. Many of them live with Matt Smith, the founder and executive director at Project Perry, or perhaps I should say that Matt lives with his dear friends, the mistreated parrots. Matt began his project with 7 parrots in 1995. He now has over 200 rescued birds.
A couple times a month, Matt and his fellow caretakers host tours of the half-dozen or so aviaries at Project Perry. Though a donation of $20 per person is required, this is not a big revenue producer, but serves more as an opportunity to educate the public about the unscrupulousness of the pet trade and the mistreatment of one of the most intelligent and sensitive birds on the planet – the parrots.
There are many types of parrots ranging from the small and colorful Parakeets to the large Macaws. Matt has many different species of parrots at his aviaries including Cockatiels and African Grays. These are beautiful birds capable of love and interaction with humans – but not all of them. Some were so mis-treated as to shy away from anything on two feet and some can be aggressive towards humans.
Nancy and I took a two-hour tour at Project Perry and met many of the birds up close and personal. We talked with a few, though I couldn’t understand the Spanish that one African Gray was speaking. I think he told an off-color joke, but I didn’t catch the punch line.
When parrots come to this 27-acre sanctuary, they come for good. They are never up for adoption. They are treated as honored guests and the aviaries become their homes for life, an opportunity for flight and flock that was denied to them upon adoption.
The generosity of many individuals and corporations keep Project Perry afloat. Bob Barker’s foundation, for example, has donated over $200,00 to help build aviaries and provide necessary funding.
Tours through the aviaries are available by appointment only, and I wouldn’t recommend them for small children. The birds’ well-being and safety is of paramount concern. To take a tour, contact Matt at 540-967-0447 or go to www.projectperry,com.
To be allowed in this, the home of many abused birds, is an opportunity to gain knowledge of and to interact with one of God’s most beautiful creatures. It is an experience you won’t soon forget.