'How To' Guides for Bird Shelters and Care Facilities

Our new series of informative pamphlets are designed to help shelters and care facilities tend to the needs of birds.  If you operate a shelter or care facility or would like to help shelter of care facility near you, please download any or all of these free pamphlets below: Note: All are PDF’s and are intended to serve the short-term care and housing needs of birds in a shelter setting.

Special thanks to the following individuals for contributing to this project:

Denise Kelly, President, Avian Welfare Coalition
Monica Engebretson, Senior Program Associate, Born Free USA,
Anthony Pilny, DVM, DAB
Karen Windsor, Co-Director, Foster Parrots Ltd
Grace Lerner Sharfstein, Graphic Designer
Photos: Foster Parrots, Ltd., Central Virginia Parrot Sanctuary/Project Perry, Midwest Avian Adoption & Rescue Services (MAARS), Jennifer Lenz, Parrots R4Ever Avian Rescue & Sanctuary, Joel Allerhand, and the Center of Avian & Exotic Medicine, New York, NY.

These materials are made possible through a generous grant from the ASPCA®.

    • Captive Exotic Birds: A Brief Introduction: While almost a third of the world's 330 parrot species are threatened with extinction due to pressures from collecting for the pet trade, combined with habitat loss, many of these same species end up at the doorsteps of animal sheltering facilities throughout the United States.
    • Common Physical Abnormalties of Captive Birds: Birds often arrive in sheltering facilities with physical or behavioral conditions that require remedy but are not necessarily signs that a bird is diseased or ill or has a life-threatening condition.
    • Feeding Birds: While much has been learned about bird nutrition in recent years, the exact nutritional requirements for parrots are unknown. A majority of birds kept as pets are suffering from some degrees of nutritional deficiency.
    • A Guide For Performing A Basic Physical Examination On Captive Birds In Your Care: By Dr. Anthony Pilny.
    • Handling and Restraint of Captive Parrots: It is important that staff be trained to properly handle and restrain a bird to avoid injury to the bird and to the handler and to prevent escape.
    • Housing Birds: When considering a housing arrangement for birds it is important to keep in mind how exotic birds would live in the wild.
    • Infectious Disease in Captive Parrots: This chart breaks things down into disease, transmission, clinical signs, diagnosis and prognosis.
    • Intake Considerations: Whether a bird is owner surrendered, dropped off, found stray outdoors, or is brought to your shelter as a result of a seizure by humane law enforcements, it is important to capture as much information as possible about each bird and about the circumstances that brought them to your door.
    • Minimizing Stress for Birds in Shelters: Birds coming into a shelter environment are often traumatized. Some will appear fearful and withdrawn; others will be anxious or react aggressively.
    • Placement Application: Taking care of a bird is a serious responsibility. This adoption application is designed to help you decide if a bird is right for you, and to ensure that you are properly informed about the needs of captive birds.
    • Placement Application Evaluation Guide: Because the adoption application is designed to encourage potential adopters to take seriously the responsibility of caring for a captive bird, some questions listed are purely educational and, as such, there are no "right" or "wrong" answers.
    • Protecting Birds in the Shelter through Quarantine: One of the challenging aspects for most shelters caring for exotic birds is their ability to dedicate space and resources for the effective quarantine of incoming birds.
    • Supportive Care for Sick or Injured Captive Birds: A bird that who ill or injured but not bleeding should receive supportive care immediately. Birds have high metabolic rates, and their body temperature is much higher than our own, averaging 103-106 degrees Fahrenheit.
    • Symptoms of Illness in Avians: There are three main criteria involved when examining birds for symptoms of illness: the appearance of the bird, the state of activity of the bird, and the environment in which it is housed.
    • 10 Things You Need To Know Before Adopting A Bird: The first thing you should know is birds are not domesticated animals. Domestic animals are animals who have been bred for thousands of years to live in the care of humans and are distinct from their wild ancestors.
    • Transferring Birds from Carriers into Cages: Taking precautions will help to minimize the possibility of having a bird take flight into the shelter.
    • You also can download all 16 of these pamphlets in this one zip file.

Additional Resources:

Parrot Restraint
a video by Scott Echols,DVM 

 How to Properly Restrain and Medicate a Bird
With Lorelei Tibbets, The Center for Avian & Exotic Medicine

 Need help caring for chickens, pigeons, or waterfowl in emergency shelters?
Check out the series of basic care sheets by Julie Burge, DVM, Burge Bird Rescue

Basic Chicken Care in Emergency Shelters

Basic Pigeon Care in Emergency Shelters

Basic Care of Poultry in Emergency Shelters (including Turkeys, Pheasants, Peafowl, Quail, Guinea Fowl).

Basic Care of Waterfowl in Emergency Shelters
Common Bird Emergencies