The Iowa Source
Home arrow Articles arrow Pets and Animals arrow Iowa Parrot Rescue
Print E-mail

Iowa Parrot Rescue

Caring for Birds is a Labor of Love

by Lindsey Smith

iowa parrot rescue, parrots, parrot building
The new bird building at Iowa Parrot Rescue was designed to be as energy efficient as possible, with a passive solar collector, energy efficient CFLs, and on-demand water heater.

Mike Hutchison knows birds. “Birds have huge personalities. No other pet will sit on your shoulder and say ‘I love you’ and mean it,” he says. “No other pet can pet you.”

A bird can, according to Mike Hutchison, owner and operator of Iowa Parrot Rescue. Hutchison runs the bird sanctuary and adoption facility out of his family’s homestead in Letts, Iowa. They often take in abused and neglected birds. Other birds find their way to the parrot rescue when their owners are unable to keep them because of a health issue or a new baby in the family.

Ten years ago, Hutchison’s wife Abi received a canary as a Christmas gift. Soon an acquaintance asked if they would be willing to take in his bird. Mike started searching around on the Internet and found that people were always looking for homes for their birds.

And Iowa Parrot Rescue was born.

Birds as Pets

People often get birds not realizing how much time and attention they require. Birds need large cages, toys to entertain them, a diet of seeds, fresh fruits, and veggies, and frequent attention from the owners. As males reach sexual maturity, they often become aggressive and vocal, something many owners are unprepared to deal with.

“Most abuse [that we see] is neglect through ignorance,” Hutchison says. “[The owners] just don’t know what the bird needs.”

Other birds are impulse purchases. Since the 1990s there has been an increase in breeding and a decrease in importation, partially due to regulations like the Convention on International Trade of Wild Fauna and Flora that try to ensure animals are not harmed by international trade. Increased breeding resulted in lower prices, so people don’t always put as much thought into it, according to Hutchison.

The Rescues

At Iowa Parrot Rescue, some of the birds are permanent members of the sanctuary family, unsuitable for adoption for various reasons. Many have a difficult past, like Ziggy, an African Grey, who survived Hurricane Katrina. Others have health and aggression problems. Another bird, who came from a home with domestic violence, has an entire vocabulary of cries for help. Lacy and Leo, a pair of macaws that were left in their owner’s basement for 25 years, started plucking, a nervous habit of ripping out feathers that is caused by stress, malnutrition, or confinement.

Most birds, however, are available for adoption. The three-story house is home to the Hutchisons’ personal pets and some sanctuary birds that are not available for adoption, while a building on the property holds all the other birds currently in the their care. IPR generally has around 22 birds that range from the large and brilliantly colored macaws to smaller breeds like Indian Ringneck parakeets.  Since its inception 10 years ago, the operation has dealt with more than 325 birds.

Because there is such a demand for the rescue and adoption facility, IPR has outgrown the Hutchisons’ house. Last summer, a new building was constructed just for the birds and they were all moved in by November 2008.

Devoted bird owners also frequently give their birds to Hutchison to place with another family or care for temporarily. Until the spring of 2008, Iowa Parrot Rescue was the only operation of its kind from Denver to Chicago. Now, thanks to a weekend workshop IPR hosted in May, there are a few more across the Midwest.

Last year, a woman paid him to fly to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to get her bird after she was diagnosed with cancer. The woman said there were six bird rescues in her county alone but she didn’t like any of them. “It’s rewarding when a good owner feels comfortable giving their bird to you,” Hutchison says.

Though caring for 20 or more birds is a huge time commitment, Hutchison  doesn’t mind. “The downsides are peripheral. So we don’t take vacations and there is some noise.”

However, IPR isn’t just for the birds. “We’re caring for birds but we’re also caring for people—those who can’t keep their birds and those who want [to adopt] birds. It’s a win-win-win situation.

“Some people have wanted their whole lives to have a certain type of bird,” he says. “There is an excitement being able to call that person and tell her to come over to pick her bird. A 40-year-old turns into a 5-year-old at Christmas.”

Walter Seaman, an associate math professor at the University of Iowa, has adopted two Blue Front Amazon parrots from IPR. After his Orange Wing Amazon passed away, he got the urge to get another bird. Seaman said he started looking at birds at places like Petland, but they were expensive and he felt guilty feeding the demand for baby parrots.

He began searching the Internet to see if there were older, previously owned birds available for adoption. He found Bogart, a male Blue Front Amazon, at Iowa Parrot Rescue and later adopted Jammers, also a Blue Front Amazon.

Bogart is aggressive and not a cuddly bird, while Jammers has some health issues, requiring special vitamins. But the two birds have bonded and preen each other.

In a video he shot of the pair, their personalities were evident. Jammers was singing in an operatic voice and dancing, while Bogart waved. Hutchison, too, is familiar with big bird personalities. Draco, a Blue and Gold Macaw, likes to play peekaboo by covering his eyes with his wing.

“They have brought fun and joy to the house,” Seaman says. “I’m happy I did it because so many need homes and we are giving them a good home.

Since the recession began, Iowa Parrot Rescue has tripled the number of birds it has taken in, while donations have dried up. If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation, email This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 563-506-5479.

Mike Hutchison will give a presentation at the Quad City Parrot Society Fair, Milan Community Center, Sunday, September 20 2009.

See the Index for more articles about wildlife, pets and animal welfare.

Add this page to your favorite Social Bookmarking websitesTwitter! Reddit! Facebook! Free social bookmarking plugins and extensions for Joomla! websites!
Comments (7)Add Comment
...
written by mrs sarah Lee, February 08, 2014
I am writing you to see if you know of any parrots that have been abused that need a home with experienced people let me know we are in Decorah, Iowa 52101. We can take very good care of such a bird but 2000 dollars for a bird that will take special supplies, care and vet bills is out of our range. My husband used to breed but now two to three birds is all we have. Now we have one love bird due to the passing of our last parrot due to old age. I hope to find a bird that needs some love and if you know of anyone near us please let me know This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it thank you
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
...
written by Sharon, March 18, 2012
We are looking to adopt one blue gold macaw or a pair of them. My mom has been watching mine for the last 8 months so she does have experience with them. I am actually leaving on the 29th to go back home and taking my guy back to oregon with me so we are looking to get my mom 1 or 2 for my stepdad who had a stroke and interacted with our guy Speedy. I am on Facebook and you can find a direct link by going to the search bar and searching blue gold macaw/cats. The birds would have alot of love and attention. I will call and Speak to Mike Directly ssince I was referred to him by a good friend of mine.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
...
written by Lynette Lane, October 24, 2011
I have left word on your phone. I have 3 birds. African Grey 12 yrs, Yellow Naped Amazon 8 yrs, Cockateil 20 yrs. I belong to the Heart of Illinois Bird Club. I may have some toys etc that you might want as I buy, buy, buy for my kids. Purchased birds in Ga. Breeder of the larger birds is at the avian dept. of University of Ga. in Athen, Ga. Cockateil was bought in Fl. when we lived there. Lost my husband to melanoma in 07 when we moved back to home state of Tx. We both loved our babies very much and when he died, I think they kept me alive as I knew I had to take care of them. They love me very much. Husband and I married 26 yrs. so my son moved me to Galesburg, Il. We are adjusting well. It's just me and my babies and we have lots of fun. Hope to here from you. Lynn
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
...
written by Lynette Lane, October 24, 2011
I called and left you a message about different types of donations and also that I am a member of the Heart of Illinois Bird Club. I have a African Grey, 12 years old, a Yellow Naped Amazon 8 yrs old, and a Grey Cockateil 20 yrs old. The 2 larger birds came from the same breeder in Lawrenceville, Ga. My husband and I bought them when we lived there. The breeder was and probably still is a avian person working at the University of Georgia at Athens, Il. We moved back to Texas later and my husband was diganosed with melanoma and died in 07. The African Grey and Cockatiel was his. After he died all the birds became very close to me. I love them very much. I take them to the pre-k school at the Lutheran Chuch where my son is the pastor. They go on the day before the other pet day. I give the parents and children information about raising birds (as much as I know myself). The pet store here has relocated to a larger buiding and when they get birds would like for me to talk to people who want to get birds and give them as much info I can about getting a bird. As you know som people get them on impulse and shouldn't get them without knowing the responsibities of these beautiful pets. Hope you will call me as I have lots of perches and toys that I can give you. You know most people that really cater to their birds are bird poor as we love them so much. Thanks, Lynn
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
...
written by brenda payne, October 05, 2011
please let me know how to go about doing an adoption - I have a green cheeked conure now and we love her so much! they are the best! would love to send a donation for helping you. please let me know how to do that. we seen yoru segament on tv and loved what your doing!
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
...
written by noah hoogestraat, August 16, 2010
hi i was one of kids at the campground that lisin to you take about rolf and the rescue and everything. thanks to you i want to lern a lot more about the parrot you rescue like what they eat how to car for them ang how to trean them anh many more.just to give u a heads up when i get older and my live is all stated out and a heve a house anh the room ready ill come to your pleas to adoupt a parrot. smilies/cheesy.gif smilies/wink.gif smilies/smiley.gif smilies/cool.gif
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +1
...
written by Kathryn Kimball, April 15, 2010
My 30 year old orange wing died yesterday and we already are missing her a great deal. Most people do not like the noise but we do. We may be interested in another bird espesially one that an owner had to give up because of the economy. Please keep us in mind. Kathryn Kimball ,908 334 4944
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +3

Write comment
quote
bold
italicize
underline
strike
url
image
quote
quote
smile
wink
laugh
grin
angry
sad
shocked
cool
tongue
kiss
cry
smaller | bigger

security code
Write the displayed characters


busy
< Prev   Next >