839 birds donated to shelter after hoarder dies in Michigan


A Michigan animal rescue is struggling to deal with a bizarre “Christmas present” in the form of 839 parakeets.

Facebook screenshot

An animal rescue in southeast Michigan got a bizarre “Christmas present” in the form of 836 homeless parakeets.

“We were in shock also, but could not turn them away as they were all crammed in … cages and smothering each other and needed immediate help,” the Detroit Animal Welfare Group (DAWG) wrote on Facebook.

“These birds came from a very unhealthy situation and the irresponsibility of the owner is infuriating.”

The former owner was a hoarder who kept the birds in a single room and spent about $1,200 a month feeding them, according to the Associated Press.

“His son said that he just wanted to breed a few of them, and it got out of control,” shelter Director Kelley LeBonty told the Detroit Free Press. “The problem is birds breed easily. And then you just have more babies and more babies and more babies.”

The birds started showing up on Christmas Eve: 497 parakeets in seven cages, the shelter wrote on Facebook.

However, that was just the start.

“We thought 497 parakeets was a lot …. Until they surrendered 339 more in boxes this afternoon,” the shelter posted Dec. 26 on Facebook. “The grand total of parakeets surrendered is 836!”

This includes some so young, they need to be hand-fed, officials said. Others are in desperate need of medical care.

The shelter quickly arranged temporary housing, then reached out to nearby bird rescue operations, including Birds and Beaks, East Michigan Bird Rescue and Jojo’s Flying Friends, officials said. The three shelters have taken in more than 800 of the birds.

“And miraculously we just had parakeet food donated,” DAWG officials said.

Donations of bird cages and an air purifier have also been received in the past week, the shelter said.

The birds are now being offered for adoption through four agencies — after they have been evaluated by a veterinarian.

“Owning a parakeet is a 6-15 year commitment and they require not only food, water and daily cage cleaning but also daily interaction, enrichment and flight time,” the shelter wrote Dec. 27 on Facebook.

“As any pet they should be part of the family. Please know that birds are vocal and can be noisy and messy.”

This story was originally published December 27, 2021 8:11 AM.

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Mark Price has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1991, covering beats including schools, crime, immigration, LGBTQ issues, homelessness and nonprofits. He graduated from the University of Memphis with majors in journalism and art history, and a minor in geology.

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