Foster Parrots, Ltd: Instilling Avian Welfare Values

Image of Parrot for company Foster Parrots, Ltd.

Many people are unaware that there is a crisis of unwanted parrots in captivity. Foster Parrots is a parrot rescue and exotic wildlife sanctuary organization working to protect captive and wild parrots.

This Yardi-supported nonprofit was founded in 1999 in Hope Valley, Rhode Island. The organization works regionally, nationally and internationally to provide rescue services to parrots, advocate for parrots as wild animals and protect those who still fly free. The legal pet parrot trade perpetuates the decimation of parrot populations in the wild, driving many species toward extinction.

A devastating fire occurred at Foster Parrot Sanctuary in April 2021, and three years later, it is finally able to break ground for its reconstruction project. So, with construction chaos in the mix, Foster Parrots strives to maintain quality service for its programs and 380 resident birds!

“We run what I believe to be one of the best parrot adoption programs in the country, which enables us to bring rescue services to a greater number of birds in need,” shared Karen Windsor, executive director for Foster Parrots.

Foster Parrots also offers valuable humane education programs to the local community. Since the fire, they’ve had to scale back a bit, but they look forward to the day when they can resume a full schedule of educational activities.

Yardi funding provides invaluable and direct support to the birds at the sanctuary, including veterinary care, high-quality nutritional support, toys and enrichments that help keep brilliant avian minds engaged and challenged.

“Our number one goal is and always will be the care and welfare of our sanctuary residents, and Yardi has been a cherished participant in this work,” said Windsor. She continued, “Yardi’s commitment to community service and philanthropy is rare and profoundly commendable. Your focus on engaging employees in community service empowers them as valuable participants in the wonderful work of so many nonprofit organizations. I am sure it nurtures a beautiful, inclusive corporate culture there at Yardi.”

Marc & Wally

In the early 1990s, Foster Parrots’ founder, Marc Johnson, was a potter with a studio in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Wanting a little company in his studio, Marc purchased Wally, a blue and gold macaw. As he left for home with his new friend, a neighbor came running out with a parakeet in a carrier and asked Marc to take it. On that day, Marc purchased and rescued his first birds. His relationship with these animals made him realize the absurdity of keeping parrots captive.

Suddenly, with two parrots in his studio, people started to bring Marc birds they no longer wanted. Soon, he had 30 parrots in his tiny apartment, and it became clear that there was an unwanted parrot problem. Driven by a mission to rescue and advocate for parrots, Marc abandoned his passion for pottery and founded one of the first parrot rescue organizations in the country.

Wally inspired Foster Parrots, Ltd., and because of this one macaw, thousands of unwanted, languishing and abandoned captive parrots have received love and help through Foster Parrots. Marc went on to travel around the country for three decades, raising awareness and instilling avian welfare values.

In 2004, Marc traveled to Guyana and subsequently founded an eco-tourism-based conservation project in the village of Nappi. This helped stop the poaching and trapping of parrots in the region and preserve a vast forest that would have otherwise been sold for logging.

All this happened because of Marc’s relationship with Wally, which shows how one bird had the power to change the world!

Volunteer opportunities

Foster Parrots welcomes volunteers to help with bird chores. However, due to the nature of the work, the training involved requires at least one morning per week for three months.

Foster Parrots also holds “Yard and Garden” parties in the summer. These volunteer events require no training but outdoor work with rakes, shovels and garden gloves. Anyone interested in volunteering can reach out to [email protected] or [email protected].

“As a society, we have grown so accustomed to seeing a bird in a cage that we often fail to recognize that a cage is not a natural environment for these highly intelligent, profoundly social, flighted wild animals. Cages are prisons. At Foster Parrots, we dream of a world in which the sight of a bird — or any wild animal — in a cage is no longer acceptable to anyone,” expressed Windsor.