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SpiritWorks Foundation/Parrot Peers

Williamsburg, Virginia

Cause Description:
A multitude of captive parrots, like their human counterparts, come from traumatic backgrounds. Some birds witness child abuse or domestic violence. Others endure physical abuse themselves. Still others suffer neglect, abandoned in back rooms and only fed on occasion. As a result, a lot of these birds lose their ability to trust. It’s not unusual for them to become depressed or self-destructive. And in a manner similar to that of humans, parrots often communicate emotional pain and anger through behavior. This can include exaggerated fear (phobia), excessive screaming, feather destruction and/or self-mutilation. The birds at Parrot Peers have been carefully selected for this program. Their histories parallel those of people who are overcoming their past yet still may be struggling. Individuals in recovery know that a return to health is achievable for humans. Parrot Peers submits that a similar restoration is possible for birds. As people learn to care for and rehabilitate our parrots, growth takes place. The program improves self-image, trust-building, relationship-building and communication skills; promotes relaxation, authenticity and honesty; teaches patience; provides an opportunity for service; shifts focus from self to others; fosters a sense of responsibility; combats isolation and gives a sense of community. Undeniably, a deep bond can develop between damaged birds and troubled people as they share their wellness journeys. Perhaps author Mark R. McMinn best captures the heart of Parrot Peers by saying, “as we grasp the essence of [our brokenness], we become wounded healers capable of deep empathetic, [transformative] connections”.

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