'They picked me!'

When Don Lewis of Durango, Colorado first thought about adding a companion bird into his life, he knew one thing. He wanted to adopt or rescue, not buy from a breeder or pet store. Way to go Don!

But then something weird happened. He heard about a person in Florida who had come upon some hard luck. This stranger couldn’t care for his African grey parrot any longer and just wanted to find the bird a good home. Don offered to help and started making arrangements. When discussions continued, the stranger said he could ship the bird from Florida to Colorado for $300. Only problem? Whenever Don checked shipping prices on his own, the fee was always well over a thousand. Something didn’t click.

A little more investigation and Don stumbled on a nasty surprise. The whole setup was a scam. There was no bird! Apparently this same person had already duped others. At least Don got out before losing any money. But by then he’d already picked up a cage and everything. His whole life was building momentum toward bringing a companion bird home to live with him. To find out it was all smoke and mirrors was a pretty big blow.

Around this same time, Don decided to come visit Best Friends after he had researched parrot adoptions. He didn’t know if he would find a bird to adopt at the sanctuary, but he wanted to come and at least spend time with some of them. That big empty cage back home was looking mighty lonely.

After mixing and mingling with a few of the parrots at Best Friends, Don and the adoption folks chatted about some possible matches. Early on, they eliminated most of the African greys. Greys can make great pets with the right homes, but they’re not always the best at holding down an empty fort all day. They want interaction! The goal was to find a bird or two who wouldn’t mind living in a solo bachelor pad.

What happened next, though, nobody could have predicted. Visiting with several other birds, Don reached his hand out to say hello to Pookie, a red-bellied parrot. To the surprise of all, Pookie stepped right up. This is a bird who just doesn’t do that. Not even for people he knows, let alone strangers. Pookie lives with Penny, another bashful red-bellied parrot.

Both birds seemed to trust and connect with Don, a fact not lost on the birds’ caregivers. So many times in adoptions, it’s the animal who chooses the person and this was no exception. After spending the weekend with the two birds, Don made his decision. He’d adopt the pair that had picked him. And with adopting two, they’d each have a companion during the day. He’s so glad he found them.

Back in Colorado he now has a reason to come home after work. Always before he’d hook up with friends and play the night away. But with the two birds, he keeps a tight schedule. Don finds that he really likes the daily rhythm of caring for Penny and Pookie. In the mornings they eat breakfast together—sharing out of the same cereal bowl on occasion—and in the evenings before dusk they spend time unwinding on the covered porch out back. Sounds like these two birds knew what they were doing.

Story by David Dickson

Photos by Gary Kalpakoff

Interested in adding a bird to your home? Be sure to check out the many Best Friends Adorable Adoptables.

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