Happy holidays to you all on behalf of the flock, volunteers, and leadership at MAARS! We’re sending all of you our best wishes for an amazing year in 2023, full of happiness and health for you and your families.
As the world has attempted to make a return to “normalcy,” we’ve done the same here at MAARS while still working hard to take any necessary steps to keep our flock and volunteers as safe and healthy as possible. It’s important to remember that as you start to return to some of the aspects of your lives that were interrupted by COVID, the crisis for nonprofits, especially in the area of animal welfare, remains very real.
According to a survey of more than 150 shelters and animal organizations by BestFriends.org and the latest Minnesota Council of Nonprofits Nonprofit Economy report:
- Nearly half of respondents (up 72% vs. May of 2020) report experiencing increased demand
- Over 70% of respondents report that they will experience financial distress in the next 12 months
- 88% were short on staffing
We’re incredibly fortunate and immensely grateful to have such an amazing base of donors and volunteers to help us navigate these challenging times. We hope you’ll continue to support us by considering a recurring or one-time donation to support our flock. As a reminder, 100% of your donations go directly to the flock, so every penny given will help a bird in need.
As most of you know, we began a significant fundraising campaign in late spring of 2019 as we worked to #SpreadOurWings and build towards relocating to a new facility with more to offer for our flock. The pandemic has slowed that process significantly, but we remain committed to improving the living space for our flock.
This year will see us refurbishing and replacing the skylights in the building to bring in more natural light for the birds. This update fits in with our goals of improving the facility both to provide the best living space for our flock and to strengthen our investment when it is time to move on.
New Flock Members
We added some new faces to the flock this year that we’d like to introduce:
A Goffin’s Cockatoo, Kai was born in an AP biology class as a “classroom pet” before the school prohibited them in 2007 when she was brought home by a student. Coming to us in the summer of this year, she displays some of the traditional playfulness of her species. She especially loves playing with anything rubbery or stretchy and shredding paper. While she remains a bit wary around highschool aged volunteers, she does well with adult female volunteers and particularly likes men.
Mulder, Scully, and Keebler
One of two groups of cockatiels we brought in during 2022. Mulder and Scully were abandoned in a private home and left for dead; they were rescued by a family friend who was able to get them out and to safety, while Keebler joined the group in the foster home.
All three prefer the company of other birds, and all three came to us with health issues we’re working to overcome to help them live their best lives.
Larry & Lorelei
Another Cockatiel pair, they joined us after their elderly owner was no longer able to care for them. Out of their houses for the first time in 20 years, they love to fly and take baths, and have started interacting with toys. Seemingly uninterested in humans, they will often call to other members of the small bird flock.
Coming to us as an emergency boarder, Yertl is a bit high-strung and prefers the company of other birds. A foodie, she loves to eat and will tear through any pellets or fresh foods given. She knows her name and will occasionally contact-call you if you call her name.
You’ll notice a trend in the birds we’ve brought in, which is worth addressing. We made the decision some time ago to focus on Cockatoos and small birds (Cockatiels and Love Birds primarily) almost exclusively. That was a very deliberate decision based on the high level of need for both of those groups. Cockatoos, while fewer in number in captivity than some other species, are uniquely poorly suited for life in a home. Between behavioral issues, noise, and the general destruction a parrot can cause, very few wind up in stable homes throughout their lives. Many are rehomed multiple times, and they are frequently the victim of abuse.
The small birds are much more frequent purchases, and more often an impulse buy due to their availability and perceived ease of care because of their small size. This leads to far more of them living in captivity than other species, often finding themselves the victims of neglect. They have a much larger need for sanctuary space due to the sheer number of small birds surrendered at any given time. This issue was accelerated significantly by COVID.
MAARS will continue to focus on those birds most in need and to support organizations committed to the welfare of parrots and an end to birds in captivity.
In June, we had the opportunity to share comments regarding the Animal Welfare Act Standards For Birds along with several other rescues and sanctuaries.
MAARS was one of the main writers of comments, including; pushing the USDA for stronger regulations for oversight of sanctuaries, the prohibition of physical mutilation procedures outside of the rare event that it is deemed necessary by a qualified avian vet, and banning the practice of tethering in place of an enclosure for the bird.
We also challenged them to raise the standards of space sufficient to allow flight as a minimum standard of care, and, most importantly, to remove the definition of many species of parrots as “pet birds,” which currently removes many of the protections for birds that are sold in pet stores.
In 2023 we’re looking forward to once again participating in Doing Good Together, which allows us the chance to educate the next generation on the plight of parrots in captivity.
We’re also considering running another auction in the spring, and if you missed your chance to get one of our “I’m With the Flock” t-shirts this year, you’ll have another chance next year with a new slogan and options.
The MAARS Mission and Your Support
The coming year will undoubtedly provide us with plenty of challenges. Still, we remain steadfast in our mission to improve the lives of parrots in captivity and in the wild and to share the message that these incredible creatures remain wild creatures who should live their lives outside of captivity.
Please remember how grateful we are to all of you for all you give each and every year, whether in the form of financial donations, the gift of your time as you volunteer, or essential items for the flock. We couldn’t do what we do without all of you. If you’d like more information on donations, please head to our website where you can find information on the flock and the services we provide for them.
As always, our deepest thanks for your continued support and our best wishes for a warm and festive holiday season!
Support the Flock
Support the flock by purchasing unique holiday gifts from the flock including the 2023 Flock calendar, original paintings, new prints, and a selection of greeting cards. 100% of the profits from the sales of items purchased through MAARS go directly to providing care for the MAARS flock.
You can also assist MAARS’ mission by making a tax-deductible donation, following us on Facebook and supporting our Bird of the Month, choosing MAARS as your designated charity through Amazon’s Smile program or through your sales on eBay for Charity, shopping through iGive, GoodShop, or providing food for the flock at Nuts.com.