Who We Are
Based in the Minneapolis/St. Paul (Twin Cities) area of Minnesota, Midwest Avian Adoption & Rescue Services (MAARS) was founded in July 1999 to provide much-needed services for captive parrots and other birds in the Midwest in cooperation with other organizations around the USA and world.
What We Do
MAARS is the oldest and largest organization in the Midwest providing sanctuary, rehabilitation, education, and behavioral consultation services for our avian friends and their guardians. The Board of Directors, Consultants, and other Volunteers of MAARS have extensive experience working with exotic and indigenous birds of many species. We are a no-kill, non-profit organization funded solely through donations.
MAARS’ primary function is to care for the MAARS flock at our shelter, The Landing. On any given day, approximately 85 birds call The Landing home. MAARS’ core mission is to educate the public and people who already live with birds about proper bird care. We feel that education about bird care and behavior helps people to provide the best homes possible for the birds already in captivity. Additionally, MAARS advocates and partners with other organizations working to protect parrots in the wild and their habitats.
Why We Do It
Although birds are beautiful, intelligent, loving, and entertaining, they can be very difficult and demanding in captivity — especially the larger parrots. Many people do not find out in advance how much living with a bird will impact their lives before purchasing Polly. While birdkeeping remains a lifetime joy for some people, many are quickly overwhelmed by the noise, mess, expense, and time commitment it involves.
Most captive-bred birds are still only a handful of generations out of the wild. They are still wild animals that are still instinctively programmed to lead lives that are very different from what humans can provide in our homes. Some birds make the physical and mental transition from the wild to captivity well, while many don’t, to varying degrees. Many wild-caught parrots have been able to bond successfully with humans throughout their lifetime — despite the terror and trauma of capture.
While hand-raising baby parrots — removing them from their parents and raising them with human feeding and handling — may nurture the development of desirable “pet” qualities, hand-fed baby birds often are not properly socialized and/or do not receive adequate nutrition. Many health and behavioral problems are the result of this disadvantaged start in life.
Many birds — even hand-fed babies — lose their homes when their adolescent hormones kick in, and their caretakers are frightened and frustrated by their birds’ new aggressive behaviors. In the wild, these adult social behaviors make sense, but in our homes, they present a challenge. Many people are not prepared to lovingly nurture their parrot through these changes, but opt, instead, to get rid of their first bird and buy another cuddly, hand-fed baby. Parrot breeders are happy to provide the (often) expensive replacements, and the cycle continues.
Adding further to the problem, parrots are potentially very long-lived. This means that even a well-cared-for, well-adapted captive parrot could require several homes throughout its lifetime if it outlives its caretakers or their ability to care for it.
MAARS was created in response to captive parrots whose needs are not being met: Those who will lose their homes because their loving human caretakers become ill, start a human family, move, or experience another life change. Those who are bought to serve only as living room decorations, status symbols, or business mascots. Those who will be “replaced” by a more handle-able baby when their adult instincts start showing. Those who are born with or develop physical or mental health problems in captivity. Those who will overwhelm a bird breeder or collector with their numbers. Those who will be sentenced to languishing in small filthy cages, never again to feel the sun polish their feathers, or know the exhilaration of flight, or hear a loving voice. Those whose hearts will ache with loneliness and whose minds will be tormented by boredom and confinement. Those who are merely waiting to die.
Since the founding of MAARS in July 1999, almost 1500 unwanted parrots have come through our doors. More than 1400 birds have been successfully placed into permanent homes. MAARS is currently a sanctuary only facility and due to space and resource limitations, closed to new intakes.
Although these numbers may seem high, they represent only one tree in an entire forest of unwanted and unplaceable captive parrots and other birds. The need for programs like MAARS is growing rapidly. The birds desperately need us and your help!