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Guidelines for Placing Your Bird

By Denise Kelly and Rebecca Sumber

Placing your bird into a new home can be difficult, frustrating, confusing, and stressful. Hopefully, you have examined all other options besides placement, including seeking out the advice of competent avian specialists, or learning to change your own routines to accommodate those of a bird.

However, if after careful consideration, you’ve decided that it still would be best for the bird to go to another home, you you’re probably looking for some information on the steps you should take to ensure your bird(s) goes to the best possible environment to fit his/her needs. Here are some options to consider.

Placing Your Bird with an Avian Rescue, Placement or Sanctuary Organization.

Avian rescue organizations range from small home-based rescue groups that provide temporary refuge, care, and placement for birds in need to large sanctuaries that provide lifetime care for hundreds of birds. It's important to research avian rescue groups to ensure that your bird is going to a legitimate and competent avian rescue organization.

Reputable avian rescue organizations strive for the highest standards of care regardless of their size will require or will do upon accepting your bird(s):

    • Require proof that your bird is in good health (through veterinary records) or provide veterinary testing for your bird immediately upon arrival.
    • Quarantine your bird for a period of 30-90 days.
    • Feed all the birds in their care a varied, healthy, and fresh diet.
    • Insure that the facilities birds are housed in are cleaned regularly, and spacious enough to allow them daily exercise, several hours of supervised out-of-cage time and plenty of toys and enrichment activities. If the organization provides lifetime care, they provide free flight aviaries or safe flying areas.
    • Provide care based on each birds’ individual needs and not based on what is most convenient for them, concerning flight, social and intellectual needs, and daily biological rhythms.
    • Will never breed birds or allow birds to be placed into homes where they will be bred.
    • Have long-range plans to insure they can provide consistent, quality care, housing, and staffing.
    • Unless your situation is an absolute emergency, the group should try to work with you to solve any problems first before the birds is to be relinquished.
    • Refer you to another reputable rescue group for assistance if they are unable to accept birds at the time.

What To Look Out For

Groups that refuse birds based on their size and species. This could indicate they are looking to acquire larger birds simply to sell or adopt out at higher fees.

Adoption fees that are near market value. Not all groups charge adoption fees, but those that do often only charge for the cost of veterinary testing and treatment, food, caging, toys, and other necessities. These can easily be documented with receipts.

Check to see if the group you plan to work with is accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) (add link

For information on Avian Sheltering and accreditation, refer to our webpage on Avian Sheltering

Placing Your Bird Directly Into a Private Home
You also have the option of bypassing the rescue organization and placing your bird directly into a private home. This can be treacherous. Unless you know someone well, it can be difficult to judge someone's ability to properly care for your bird. So how do you find someone willing and able to give your bird the best possible home? Here are a few tips.

Dos and Don'ts of Placing Your Bird in a Private Home


    • Place an ad on the internet or in the newspaper. Unscrupulous people who look to buy or adopt birds so they can turn around and sell them often respond to these kinds of ads. Breeders may also search ads like this for free "breeding stock."
    • Place your bird with a breeder or with someone interested in breeding birds. This results in more baby birds for the pet trade and contributes to overpopulation. If you have a rare or endangered species, contact a conservation group or zoological society to ensure that the bird is placed in a bona fide conservation program.



    • Consult with an avian veterinarian, or reputable bird club to find knowledgeable people who could help you place your bird.
    • Thoroughly screen any potential adopters.
    • Have your adopter sign a legally binding agreement that includes your wishes for the bird.  Consider including a clause stating that guardianship is revocable should the situation not work out or that the care being provided is deemed inadequate.

Take the Time to Thoroughly Screen Potential Adopters

It's often difficult to know what to look for in a potential adopter. Vetting is a vitally important part of the adoption process to insure that your bird’s future is happy, healthy, and safe. When choosing an adoptive home, look for someone with the following qualities:

    • Is open and willing to discuss — and honor — your wishes for the bird.
    • Will provide for the individual physical and behavioral needs of your bird(s), not on what is most convenient for them.
    • Owns their own home. If they are renters, be sure to get something in writing from the landlord stating it is ok for the tenant to have this particular species of bird in the apartment.
    • Old enough to properly care for your bird for the rest of the bird's life, and who has made provisions for the bird should a situation arise where they are unable to provide care or if the bird outlives them.
    • Does not have other dangerous animals. Cats and ferrets, in general, should be avoided, due to their predatory instincts. Other animals, such as large reptiles, some species of dogs, and even other aggressive birds, can also be dangerous.
    • Has a stable source of income. Proper bird care and avian veterinary costs are expensive.
    • Possesses knowledge of exotic birds in general, and knowledge specific to the species of bird that is being adopted. If the potential adopter has birds, all birds in the home should be healthy (request vet records).
    • Someone you are confident will house, feed, and care for the bird properly, and provide routine veterinary care. Getting references from a current avian veterinarian can often help put your mind at ease.
    • Does not have many life changes ahead of them. This could exclude young adults who may still get married, have children, get divorced, and/or relocate several times before settling down. Birds often lose their homes when their caretakers experience changes such as these.
    • Will include the entire household in caring for the new bird. You should be aware of everyone in the household and know their feelings about the potential adoption. If even one family member is not supportive, your bird could suffer because of it.
    • An environment where your bird will not be left alone for longer than she is used to, or for long hours or periods at a time.
    • Will allow you to visit the bird periodically to check on her level of care and comfort in the home.
    • Will agree to sign a legally binding contract with terms and conditions that you are comfortable with.
    • Does not breed birds or other animals or have any interest in breeding.
    • A home that your bird is comfortable in. Be sure to have the prospective adopter handle your bird to gauge his/her level of comfort with them.
    • Can provide references, including neighbors, family members, employers, veterinarians, business associates, etc.  Ideally, you want at least two reliable references that have known the potential adopter for five years or more, including one from a veterinarian if they already have other animals.   You might also consider utilizing the services of a firm that specializes in background verification.


Remember that research is the biggest part of the adoption process. You must research the adoption or sanctuary organization if you plan to entrust the care of your bird to them. You must research individuals interested in adopting your bird to be sure your bird will be happy, healthy, and safe.

Hopefully, with these guidelines, you are now better equipped to find the best possible living environment for your captive exotic bird.