Bird adoption, sanctuary, rescue, and care education services for parrots and other captive exotic 'pet' birds. Based in Minneapolis - St. Paul (Twin Cities) area of Minnesota and serving Midwest.



P.O. Box 821  Stillwater, MN  55082  

Phone: (651) 275-0568  Fax: (651) 275-0457  


  Captive Bird Rescue, Adoption, Sanctuary & Care Education Resources 


Jeremiah - Mitered Conure (Photo   2000 Tina McCormick)Thanksgiving

by Eileen McCarthy, MAARS Executive Director, with Nicole Roberts, MAARS Volunteer

Jeremiah is a mitred conure. I picked him up on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, 1999. The couple who had rescued him was very kind; they found him on the side of the road in a tiny cage held together with duct tape. They had given him food and water and even bought him a toy and a perch. They were concerned that he was very thin and that he might be ill; his keelbone poked through the bare skin of his breast and abdomen. I promised that I would take him to our vet on Monday or to the emergency clinic if necessary. I thanked them profusely for being so caring. We got in the car and I cried.

When we got home my husband had already set up a cage in our bedroom where Jeremiah would spend the next few weeks. We offered him every kind of food we had and he ate everything in sight. He was so thin and bald I don't know how he would have survived even one night out in the cold. When he looked at us his huge, vulnerable eyes expressed both gratitude and fear…and belied a spirit as old as his dinosaur ancestors.

On Monday afternoon the vet took one look at Jeremiah and knew he was sick; he was diagnosed with an acute infection of round worms. His health was quite compromised by the worms, and may have been the initial cause of his feather picking. Because worms are transmitted by contact with infected soil, food, or feces, birds do not usually become infected — especially not in Minnesota where birds are kept indoors. The diagnosis only intensified my respect for this little bird who had survived so much.

After Jeremiah regained his health, we placed him in a home where he lived with several other parrots. His new mom tried to help him trust humans again, but Jeremiah was not ready to come out of his protective shell. After some time, he started making friends with Bert, a Mexican Red-headed Amazon. After only a few months, Jeremiah's new mom became suddenly ill, and was forced to surrender all of her birds to MAARS. Bert was very human bonded and quickly found another home — Jeremiah would be much more difficult to place. My heart ached to see him rejected and alone, once again. He was such a timid, sad bird. He sat quietly in the back of his cage most of the time. He rarely played and did not want the companionship of humans. When I looked into his eyes, I could feel his isolation and self-loathing. I could hear his desperate pleas for help.

For a long time, we searched for the right home. I did not want to take any chances on this one not working out. Then I got an e-mail from a man asking about the possibility of sanctuary for his cherry-head conure, Captain. Captain is wild-caught, at least 15 years old, had been bounced through several homes, and had never fully bonded to humans. This last dad cared enough to realize that Captain's best chance at happiness was to live in a sanctuary with the company of other birds. I told him about Jeremiah's similar issues and wondered if maybe the two could be friends. Captain's dad agreed it was worth a try and said he would bring Captain to The MAARS Landing. As I prepared for Captain's arrival, I talked to Jeremiah about him. To my amazement, Jeremiah climbed out of his cage and started jumping around, dancing and screeching with joy! None of us had ever seen Jeremiah like this! When Captain entered The Landing, it was truly love at first sight — Jeremiah and Captain bonded immediately and have been inseparable ever since.

Jeremiah has had a total personality change. He is now loud, scrappy and nippy like any self-respecting conure! He is no longer timid but rather, he and Captain take great delight in frightening our large male cockatoos as well as many of our Volunteers! Both birds will come out of their cage and interact with people. They talk in a kind of "pidgin" that sounds like English punctuated with "Conurese" and much laughter. Sometimes they enjoy playing a good game of "Catch Me if You Can!" with the new Volunteers but when I am there, they always go right back into their cage when I ask them to!

Captain and Jeremiah spend their days wing-to-wing, preening each other, feeding each other, squabbling, chattering and playing. Recently, they have moved into a large cockatoo size cage and love the extra space. As soon as it is possible to build another outdoor, free-flight aviary, Jeremiah and Captain will move to The Oasis Sanctuary in Arizona. There they will live the rest of their lives as part of a flock — and forever together.

I will, of course, miss them a great deal for I have formed a very special bond with both of them. But I consider many of the birds we have cared for to be children who have grown up and moved out to begin their adult lives with all the love and confidence we could give them in their short time with MAARS. Their happiness and success brings me pride and joy. Jeremiah's beautiful, soulful eyes haunt many of my waking moments. I expect that wherever I go, his gaze will always follow — bestowing upon me the profound responsibility of knowing, beyond any doubt, that we are so much more alike than we are different.


Copyright 2001 by Eileen McCarthy. Please contact Eileen at for permission to reprint this article.

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