The Parrot Rescue Center of Costa Rica is a 501(c)3, non profit rescue that collaborates with the local Costa Rican wildlife government branch (SINAC). The primary focus is to rescue, rehabilitate, and, whenever possible, release parrots that have been kept in captivity illegally. It is a pivotal goal of the PRC Mission to release as many birds as possible so that they can fly free. For those that are unable to be released, we provide a permanent, safe environment that fulfills their physical, mental and social needs. Most of the parrots at the rescue center were brought over by SINAC after they were confiscated from houses where they were kept illegaly.
Most of the parrots at the rescue center were brought over by SINAC after they were confiscated from houses where they were kept illegaly. These parrots transition to the wild with a “soft release” – which means they are released at the facility where they have resided for months, and are provided with an outdoor feeder.
For example, meet Zippy! Zippy was an illegal pet parakeet who was soft released – he remained at the rescue every day for over 8 months. Though he spent most of his time hanging out at the rescue, he was observed free-flying with wild parakeets of the same species. One day, Zippy permanently joined his wild parakeet flock, and now he doesn’t even come home to visit anymore for the holidays. Many times, even though the PRC hopes these parrots will join wild flocks and forage independently, they choose to remain close-by, and eat at our buffet instead of foraging for food on their own in the jungle. Can you blame them? They can’t find walnuts in the jungle!
Most of the parrots at our facility were either abandoned or confiscated, and then donated to us. Most were kept in extremely small cages, with metal rod perches, and subsisted on a diet of pure sunflower seeds. Some have developed behavioral disorders, while others have become too domesticated and lack the skills to forage for food or to avoid natural predators. Several of our residents have sustained permanent physical disabilities due to collisions with vehicles, buildings or electric cables. The PRC has already rescued and rehabilitated more than 90 parrots.
Trouble in Paradise...
Locals poach baby chicks and sell them illegally as pets to oftentimes unaware owners. The PRC has gone door-to-door to educate the community on proper parrot care. We seek to expand our efforts to elementary and middle school children. By educating children on the ecological imperative of leaving parrots in the wild, they learn about the interconnectedness of the environment in context of the incredible biodiversity of Costa Rica. With increased awareness, the demand for illegal parrots should decrease with future generations of pet owners.
Here you can see an image of the deforestation of parrot habitats in Costa Rica. Deforestation is a consequence of agricultural expansion in a developing world country such as Costa Rica. In addition, during the poaching process, trees are felled to gain access to parrot nests. Widespread loss of their natural habitat has caused two parrot species to become endangered. Over the past 8 years, the PRC initiated reforestation efforts at our current one-acre facility, planting 30 fruit trees, 20 seed trees and 30 trees of species that are preferred for parrot nesting. PRC wants to expand their reforestation efforts, planting thousands of native trees and plants, as well as fruit and seed trees. We also hope to initiate a breeding program for the endangered Yellow Naped Amazons.
In Costa Rica, it is estimated that one in every four households owns an illegal parrot. Though MINAE has the authority to confiscate these parrots, they often can not, even for those in the worse conditions, due to the lack of capacity at their partner rescues. The PRC wants to construct new facilities to house hundreds of additional parrots.
In 2021, the PRC made the big move to the new, 17 acre property in Sabalito, Coto Brus to allow for the expansion of the parrot rescue facilities. One of the main future goals is to develop a breeding center on site for the endangered Yellow Naped Amazons.