Animal rescuers saved around 127 cockatiels, parrots and other birds flying loose in a home after the owner died, according to Florida rescue groups.
Rescuers and animal control officers went to the house in Fort Walton Beach on June 16 in response to a call from the local police department, Michelle Thorson, spokeswoman for the Panhandle Animal Welfare Society, told McClatchy News.
Thorson said the homeowner had been dead for some time, and the birds, most of which were out of their cages, needed food, water and medical attention.
“We knew how extreme the situation was, and we knew that we had to get them out as soon as possible,” she said.
Fort Walton Beach is about 164 miles west of Tallahassee.
Most of the birds seemed like they would be all right, but some were missing feet or tails and others were pulling out their feathers due to stress, she said. Some of the birds had reproduced.
“There were quite a few baby birds in the walls,” she said. “We had to break the walls down to get them out as well.”
Rescuers took the birds to Alaqua Animal Refuge, a wildlife rehabilitation center in Freeport, for treatment.
Laurie Hood, founder of the refuge, told McClatchy News that most of the birds are doing well and 120 will soon be available for adoption.
One cockatoo has kidney issues and will remain at the refuge’s bird sanctuary, she said. A few others had medical complications, and one that is missing its feet may have to be euthanized. Refuge staff are also caring for about three baby birds who need to be fed around the clock.
“The good news is the majority of the birds are gaining weight and they look pretty healthy,” she said.
Birds can make great pets, Hood said, but she recommended that anyone looking to get one do their research.
“Some birds are wonderful to have in the home,” she said. “A lot of these parakeets are the perfect family pet.”
But larger birds, like African grays and scarlet macaws, require a lot of attention.
“I think people underestimate the care that they need,” she said. “They are very, very needy animals.”
For first-time bird owners, Hood said she recommends starting small.