Frequently Asked Questions
What are the requirements to qualify for adoption?
After you’ve filled in our online adoption or fostering application, we might get in touch with you to complete our next step in the process – arrange a home check (virtual or in-person with the utmost respect to COVID safety protocols and social distancing).
Here are some basic guidelines to consider:
1. We like to see that your birds have a large cage (as large as you can afford and as large as your space allows!) with lots of enrichment and foraging opportunities. Check out our “Local is Lekker” blog post to get some ideas of where you can buy the coolest goodies to spice up your birds’ play areas and cages while supporting awesome local small businesses.
2. We want to see that the area is safe. We do not support any interaction between predator and prey species of pets – in other words, we need to see that you are able to keep your birds in a space that is secure and separate from any dogs, cats, snakes or other pets that might share your household with you.
3. We cannot allow you to adopt from or foster for us if there are any signs of breeding activities taking place on your property or in your household. That includes other pets as well, not just birds. There are simply too many horror stories that we have to witness first hand that are a direct or indirect result of breeding, whether that be for commercial gain or not, on a large scale or not. We cannot and will not ever support or condone this in any shape or form.
4. If you are a smoker, you cannot be smoking anywhere near your animals. Birds are particularly sensitive to airborne pollutants and cigarette smoke can lead to a variety of health problems.
5. We would like to see how you can accomodate your birds during out-of-cage time. If they spend minimal time in their cages while you are at home (which is ideal for physical and mental health for parrots), we want to see the play areas you have created for them – an outdoor aviary, some playstands, an indoor bird room… anything like that will definitely be a plus.
Where is Cheeky Beaks Parrot Rescue located?
Cheeky Beaks does not have one physical location; we operate nationwide via foster homes. We have team members in the following provinces: Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. We are currently the most active in Gauteng and the Western Cape, but can assist with parrots in need anywhere in the country.
How do I surrender my parrot to Cheeky Beaks?
Owners can call or WhatsApp any of our contact numbers or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to surrender a parrot. A designated team member will work with you. You will be presented with a legal agreement that will request that you sign the bird over to us. You may sign this agreement and send it back to us via email before we make arrangements, or sign a hard copy when a team member or volunteer comes to collect the bird. We will use the information you provide in this document to guide us when we assess candidates for adoption.
If your parrot is healthy (if you can provide proof of a recent vet visit) and well adapted/socialised, the new family will collect him/her directly from you. If your bird needs medical attention and/or rehabilitation to transition him/her onto a healthy diet, socialise him/her and work through any behavioural issues, he/she will be taken into foster care with one of our vetted foster carers/rehabbers first.
If you wish to receive regular updates from your parrot’s new owner(s), we can facilitate this. We want to make this process as easy as possible for your family and understand that it is a difficult choice to have to make. If you have any special requests, feel free to discuss it with your pet adviser and we will do our best to accommodate you.
How can I adopt a parrot via Cheeky Beaks?
We have an online adoption application form which you can complete at any time. Your response will be saved in our system and we review all applications when we have a bird available for adoption. Please note that we cannot respond to each application as we receive far too many and all our team members are full time students or have their own careers. We do conduct interviews and home checks and usually require at least one meeting with the parrot before any person is approved to adopt.
Was my application successful?
We will contact you once we have the perfect match for your family. We might contact you within a few days or even a few months. We are not breeders, so unfortunately not every family who has applied has been able to adopt from us. If we don’t contact you, it doesn’t mean you have been declined – it just means we have not necessarily been able to match you with the right bird yet. You don’t have to re-submit an application for any other future birds you might be interested in; once your information is on our system, it remains there and can be accessed by our team members at any time.
How long does the adoption process take?
It can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the specific situation. We are stricter when it comes to the placement of larger parrots, especially cockatoos. We require the candidates on our shortlist to attend regular meetings with the bird in foster care and get to know him/her before we make any final decisions. We need to make sure that the bird responds well to the potential new owners; we don’t just place a bird with any family simply because they have a suitable home – we want to be sure the bird chooses them, too.
How can I become a foster for Cheeky Beaks?
We operate via foster homes nationwide and are always in need of fosters. Anyone wishing to become a foster can complete the same online application and select the foster option. Applicants can then also contact any of the official Cheeky Beaks team members and let us know to review your application and we can arrange a home check. If we approve your home check, you will be added to our official foster list and will be contacted when there is a stray or surrendered parrot in your area that we would like you to help us with.
What is required from fosters?
Quite often, birds that are surrendered to us need to be removed from their current situation as soon as possible. We arrange a foster who can temporarily look after the surrendered bird, assess its mental/emotional/physical needs and get it to an avian vet for a health check/medical care. It takes time to find a forever family that matches the specific needs of an individual bird. We encourage potential adopters to take the opportunity to discuss it with the rest of their household and so on before making a final decision, because adoption is a massive commitment that should never, ever be made on impulse. Having a bird in foster care also often allows a potential adopter to come and meet the bird first.
Many people want to help birds, but are not necessarily in an ideal position to adopt, so fostering gives them the opportunity to help a wide range of birds and gain experience with different species without having to make a long-term commitment.
But isn’t it traumatic for a bird to be moved from its original owners and then moved AGAIN from its foster family to its new forever family? It can be, of course, but it also de-sensitises the bird to new environments and new people, which can be beneficial to its mental health in the long run. We encourage our fosters to train and socialise the birds in their care as much as possible before we find a forever home, so that the move is as easy as it can be on the bird.
So, if you want to foster, how does it work? Well, Cheeky Beaks assists with transportation and medical costs while the bird is in foster care. If you want to sign up as a foster, go to our online application (www.cheekybeaks.org.za/adopt) and select “foster” as an option. The rest of the form remains very much the same – just fill in what is applicable to you. What you will need is a spare cage (not all birds are surrendered with their cages) and a space in which to keep your foster bird separated from your existing flock. You will need some basic experience and knowledge with regards parrot training and converting a bird to a healthy diet. If you are familiar with pluckers or have worked with aggressive birds, that is a bonus.
How can I support Cheeky Beaks?
We appreciate any support and donations greatly. Monetary donations can be made into our FNB bank account or via PayPal. We also sell merchandise (t-shirts, mugs, tote bags and more), parrot perches/play stands and healthy parrot food mixes (in collaboration with The Parrot Hotel). Cage donations are also welcome as we refurbish them and use them for foster birds or we sell them to raise funds. Toy donations are also greatly appreciated because often parrots are surrendered to us with little to no toys. Toys and enrichment are part of the rehabilitation process as birds need to be able to play and forage independently – it also decreases other unwanted behaviours.
Does Cheeky Beaks sell parrots? Why do we charge an adoption fee?
No, we do not sell birds in any way. We do charge an adoption fee, though, which varies per species. This fee covers administration and travel costs (when home checks are conducted or the bird is transported to a foster or forever home by one of our volunteers or team members). We also provide essential supplies for foster carers if needed.
Furthermore, we require funds in case of a vet visit for any bird in our care. We attempt to provide each bird that comes into our foster care at our organisation with a health check and any medical treatment that may be necessary before they are adopted out. We are a non-profit company and all funds which enter our business bank account goes straight back into helping birds. We are transparent about all our finances and are willing and able to provide proof of our expenses upon request. Adoption fees also allow us to ensure that adopters are financially stable and can afford the costs of owning a bird.
Why do we do home checks?
Firstly, the home check is not intended to intimidate the potential adopter. It is standard practice at most reputable rescues and rehoming initiatives. The home visit allows us to double check details the potential adopter gave us.
Some people take great offence at the suggestion of a home check, but they just don’t realise that we can’t trust a stranger’s assurances on the phone. You may well be the most honest and knowledgeable parrot owner around, but we simply can’t tell. And we need to make sure that the potential family is the best match for the physical, emotional and mental needs of the bird, so we have to check.
So, why do we homecheck?
People are deceptive for a variety of reasons. For example, some who have abused and/or neglected animals in the past, will look to adopt again. Not necessarily only birds, but often people who neglect or mistreat other animals on their property will take an interest in getting a bird companion. We need to make sure that you are a responsible pet owner. That includes the animals you already have.
All people can be perfectly capable of sounding like excellent prospects for a new home on paper – unfortunately it’s very possible to lie very convincingly on an adoption application form. Sometimes suggesting a home visit is sufficient to make these people take a step back. If they agree to a home visit, it is usually possible to spot irregularities that might indicate neglect or abuse, even if they try to cover it up – and if there are any signs of breeding activities taking place on a property, it’s also immediately a no-go.
We need to make sure you have the correct setup for the specific bird you want to adopt, e.g. If you have young children, we can’t adopt out a bird to you that is known to be traumatised by young kids and excitement/a loud household. This is not a personal attack against you as a potential adopter. Every bird is an individual with a different history and we are just taking that into account to make sure they have the best chance at being happy.
We need to make sure your house is clean. How will you keep a bird’s habitat clean if you cannot keep your own home clean? Obviously we understand that birds are messy animals and it often requires a lot of work and time to stay ahead of the household chores, and we are reasonable people, but if the feces and dust and old caked-on food is centimeters high on the cage bottom/perches, etc, then it is a bit concerning.
We need to make sure that you have the resources and the right mindset to take your bird to an avian vet when needed and not rely on home remedies or advice from people on social media to treat serious illnesses.
While some people may be insulted or intimidated by a home check, it’s important to realise that it’s not about you – it’s about being sure the companion you are thinking of adopting is right for you and that your home is right for him/her. It’s about what’s best for everyone.
Also, we are a network of people – we rely on each other’s experiences and knowledge for education. We help and support each other. It might seem nonchalant or haphazard if we ask for home check volunteers to contact us on Facebook to assist in a certain area, but what you as a observer on Facebook might not realise is that our team takes the time to personally check out and educate each person who volunteers for our organisation.
We do a home check for the home checkers. We have a list of criteria that has to be met that we communicate to every home check volunteer after they have been approved. We have documents that need to be signed and written feedback that needs to be provided. Our volunteers – even if we found them through a request for assistance on Facebook – go into a home check knowing exactly what they need to look for and equipped with the knowledge to help educate and advise candidates in case certain criteria aren’t met yet.
We have WhatsApp groups for the majority of our rehomed birds and often check in with people who have adopted from us to make sure that everything is still on track or if there is anything we can assist with. We often spend a lot of our free time going to people’s houses and helping them with their parrots’ diets, cage setups and training. We also assist with training through virtual platforms as well – even for people who have not adopted or have any other connection to Cheeky Beaks. If you’d like to speak to anyone who we’ve helped out to see what we can offer, give us a shout and we can put you in touch with them.
Similarly, if you ever have any questions about our processes, please feel free to contact us and have a chat, because we are always open to suggestions and learning.
HOW DO I SURRENDER MY PARROT?
Owners can call or email us to surrender a parrot. A designated team member will work with you. You will legally sign the animal over to us. We will collect the animal from your premises or you can be involved in the process to a point. If fostering is unnecessary the new family will collect directly from you. If you wish to receive regular updates from your parrot’s new owner we can accommodate this.
Can I send my bird to you for rehabilitation?
Yes. We have launched a new initiative recently and can now offer a long-term or short-term foster care and rehabilitation programme for owners who need assistance with their parrots, but do not want to surrender their birds to us.
We assign someone from our organisation to take in your parrot for an undetermined amount of time and work with them to overcome or correct the undesirable behaviour. We have agreements in place that both you and the other person signs (and a Cheeky Beaks representative signs as a witness) to make sure that everyone knows what is expected of them. You remain the legal owner of the parrot and receive regular updates.
We kindly ask that you make a donation to cover the bird’s food and enrichment and any medical bills that may possible arise (in such an instance we feel that a vet visit is necessary, we will consult with you first). We work out an amount for food and other consumables and then when everyone is happy, you can donate that weekly/monthly (depending how long it might take) to our NPC business account and we assign it to the foster taking care of your bird.
During this time, you will possibly need to consult with your pet adviser and make some changes to your household or setup in order to avoid your parrot reverting to undesirable behaviours when he/she returns home to you. Our team members can offer you virtual or in-person consultations to assess your particular situation and advise you on what can be done from your side to help maintain a good relationship with your parrot.
What do your consultations involve?
Don’t struggle with behavioural or parrot training obstacles in silence. We are here to help you!
The Cheeky Beaks Rescue team offers virtual and in-person consultations as part of our fundraising initiative.
The virtual consultations take place on Zoom and at least 2 team members are present. The in-person consultation is usually handled by the nearest team member to your physical location, so this option is limited to parrot owners in the Western Cape (around Cape Town), Eastern Cape (around Port Elizabeth), Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal (around Durban or Pietermaritzburg).
We ask you to complete a questionnaire beforehand that we use to help us identify the problem areas that we discuss with you in more detail during the consultation. This questionnaire gives us a bit of background information on your parrot and the issues that you are experiencing and guide us towards tailoring a solution that we will help you work on.
The virtual consultations cost R150 per hour and the in-person consultations cost R200 per hour. These funds go directly back into our fund that we use to help pay for the transport, vet bills and rehabilitation of parrots in our organisation’s care.
You can book a consultation via email or contact any of the team members in your province (if possible) for more information.
If I adopted recently, am I allowed to adopt again?
You can. We take it on a case by case basis. We are just trying to prioritise applicants that have not had the opportunity yet.
It’s by no means a hard rule, but we usually put a 6 months waiting period on all individuals who have adopted – this allows the person to bridge that ‘honeymoon’ period where the bird is still settling in and allows one to truly evaluate if you want any more birds.
A lot of the birds we get in are also very traumatised and need a lot of one-on-one time, which simply is not possible if the applicant has already adopted several birds/has several birds in their existing flock.
Does having a large flock potentially count against fosters, too?
Yes – we try to give all our fosters a chance to foster – this let’s us utilise the potential of our organisation to the maximum and to see what each individual is capable of – if we didn’t do this the same fosters would keep getting birds every time.
However we have some fosters who are better at some things than others so if a bird has a specific problem we will rather use the foster with the most experience in that area.
We also discourage or outright kick out fosters who join just to adopt – bird hoarding is frowned upon – our fosters have to be emotionally strong and cannot apply to adopt every bird they foster.