Photos By Alexandra Martin
Dog and cat rescues hold special places in many cities across the country. Many of us grew up with a cat or a dog as a pet and have continued this companionship through adulthood. With such common pets, education about the species is well known: don’t feed dogs chocolate, cats bathe themselves, purring means contentment and tail flicking can mean agitation. An expanse of educated individuals and shelters full of furry companions ready to be adopted make these to species a popular pet. But in modern history, a new companion animal has gained popularity: birds.
As the popularity of birds as companion pets grows, the resources and education must grow as well. Providing this in the Fargo-Moorhead area and beyond is C.A.A.R.E, or the Center for Avian Adoption, Rescue and Education. This shelter focuses on shelter, education and rehoming of companion birds, while also providing bird-owners services like grooming, boarding and access to a complete warehouse store of all you could ever need for your pet.
To operate, CAARE relies solely upon donations, adoption fees and revenue from their retail store. Their Avian Warehouse sells cages, perches, toys, food, food accessories, cleaning supplies and anything else needed to give your bird the best home and care possible. Vice President of the Board of Directors Candi Willey said that they are the only bird-based retail store in Fargo-Moorhead where you can get all the essential supplies in one stop.
They’ve come a long way since their founding in 2000. Originally, CAARE began as a social club for local bird owners and lovers. Eventually, they saw the need for a rehoming shelter and education center here in town and they became that resource. What began as a volunteer-operated function still remains that to this day. However, now that they have a brick and mortar building, they no longer have to foster birds in their homes. Due to the 100% volunteer-based nature of CAARE, their facility’s hours open to the public are limited, opening their doors Wednesdays from 5 to 7 pm and Saturdays 9 am to noon. During these hours, the public can come to learn about birds, visit birds that are available for adoption and shop the warehouse.
“Volunteers are how we survive. Without them, we wouldn’t make it, it would be too much for just a few people to do,” said Willey. CAARE currently has about 30 active volunteers who help socialize birds, clean cages, conduct home visits, perform grooming, operate the till in the retail warehouse and more.
While birds are beautiful, colorful creatures, they require a different type of attention and care than a cat or dog might. Willey emphasized that education is a large part of the organization and that ensuring potential bird-owners know everything they need to before taking one home. Volunteer Chris Mullens shared that an essential step is to volunteer before you adopt. This allows you to learn about bird behaviors and to figure out if having a bird is a good fit for you.
There are many reasons someone might surrender a bird for rehoming, which is why CAARE’s existence is so essential. Willey shared some of these reasons as a lack of education, allergies, intolerance to the noise (cockatoos are loud!), a lack of time to give the attention needed or old age. Large parrots can live up to 100 years, cockatiels can reach 25 to 30 years old and a parakeet on average lives up to 18 years. These lifespans mean many birds out-live their owners or their owners have life-changing experiences that result in no longer being able to care for their pet. On average, a parrot will have seven to ten owners in its lifespan. These are all things to take into account before considering adopting a bird.
Because of this variety of reasons for surrender, CAARE has a no-blame, no-shame surrender policy, ensuring that anyone giving up a bird for any reason feels comfortable doing so. CAARE wants each bird to have the best home possible and they understand that life-changing occurrences happen and unforeseen situations come up.
While there are a learning curve and a lot of things to take into account when adopting a bird, they are wonderful companions. They are highly intelligent and can learn tricks and phrases and have their own distinct personalities. They can be very affectionate and their extended life spans mean you have plenty of time to bond with and care for them.
Center for Avian Adoption, Rescue, and Education (CAARE)
2202 2nd Avenue East, Unit D, West Fargo