A common issue we face at Cheeky Beaks is that the term fostering means different things to different people – some of our applicants believe that fostering is a step before adoption, some believe that they will get ‘first pick’ of the birds they are fostering and others believe they need to protect the bird from the previous owners to the greatest of their ability.

All the above beliefs are incorrect regarding fostering for Cheeky Beaks – listed below are the different kinds of fostering we offer – please always make sure you understand on what basis you are fostering a bird to prevent hurt feelings due to misunderstandings.

1.) Foster to rehabilitate
Foster to rehabilitate is our most valuable sort of fostering but unfortunately the one with the least volunteers.
This kind of fostering allows owners facing difficult behavioral issues with their bird to place the bird in care for a set period (usually a month) – the foster then works to reduce or eliminate these behaviours and encourage healthy behaviours instead. The bird is then returned to the owner.

This kind of fostering is so important because it prioritises keeping birds with their families – a bird that is removed from his family (no matter how dysfunctional the environment) will inevitably mourn for his original ‘flock’ – Cheeky Beaks thus always tries to keep birds with their families where possible.

2.) Standard fostering
This is the fostering most often seen in our organisation – a surrendered bird is placed in a foster home and the foster works on any issues the bird may have. Once these issues are resolved the bird is made available for adoption.
Very rarely do we get surrenders who are in perfect mental and physical condition – thus a lot of work and patience may be required to allow the bird to trust humans again.

The period of this fostering depends on the issues faced by the bird and can be anything from several weeks to over a year. The goal of this fostering is to get a bird ready to live his best life in a home uniquely suited to him – so although it may be difficult, a certain amount of selflessness is required to ensure the best interests of the bird.

3.) Long term fostering

There are two broad categories that fall under this term:
3.1) Strays
A stray bird is fostered for however long it takes to find the owner – this could be a day or the rest of the birds life.
The stray is to be incorporated where possible into family and flock life.

3.2) Community help fostering
Due to the dire economic circumstances faced by many over the last decade – many bird owners have lost their jobs and in some cases even their homes.

This sort of fostering gives the bird a safe place to stay while the owner gets back on their feet – this can take a very long time.

In both the above cases the goal is to reunite the bird with his owners – this is understandably very difficult emotionally for the foster. In some cases where it is deemed reunification is not possible Cheeky Beaks’ discusses the future of the bird on a case by case basis.

4.) Medical fostering
This kind of fostering can be quite daunting to new fosters as it involves dedicated, often around the clock care of a sick or neglected bird – there are inevitably a lot of vet visits involved with this kind of fostering.

Again there are two categories:
4.1) Standard foster birds
In severe cases birds can be surrendered in a critical state – a medical foster will then become involved to care for the bird until they are stable and their conditions well managed. The bird can then remain with the medical foster on a standard fostering basis or can be moved to another foster for standard fostering.

4.2) Project-Ray birds
We often get referred cases where a dedicated owner has fallen on hard times and cannot afford a medical procedure for their bird – these birds are then fostered where they are taken to the vet and cared for by the foster until they are well and then returned to the owner. We wish we could help all owners in this position but unfortunately due to our own funding constraints we have to make tough decisions on who qualifies.

5.) Foster-to-adopt
In the rare event where you find that a bird fits perfectly into your home and it is determined you are the best choice for the bird – you will be asked to sign a foster to adopt contract – this is a three month period to see how you get on with the bird throughout his transition as he becomes more comfortable in the environment – during or at the end of the three months you can withdraw your intent to adopt if the bird isn’t settling well.

If after the three months you choose to adopt you will be charged an adoption fee and sign an adoption contract.
This type of contract is also given to the majority of our adopters (especially those who adopt large parrots and birds with special needs) – the adopter then also has three months to see if the bird is a good fit for their home.

From this we hope you have a better understanding of the different kinds of fostering and a better idea of what is expected of you when you foster a bird.