PRINSBURG - Standing at less than a foot tall, the bright-feathered, squawking, large-beaked animals are just like a child -- and a rural Prinsburg woman has 16 of them.
Angela Nelson fell in love with parrots in one week after taking care of a friend's pet bird, and has since developed veterinary skills and opened an adoption and rehabilitation service out of her own home.
Consider the Birds Avian Rescue, Adoption and Education Services was created to "give every bird the love, care and attention they need until they are finally with their forever family," said Nelson quoting her website on petfinder.com.
Nelson, who has a two-year degree in Liberal Arts from Ridgewater College, was home-schooled the finals years of high school but said she would have graduated from New London-Spicer High School in 2001.
Although she hasn't received any formal training in the veterinary field, Nelson has acquired skills since she walked into the Howard Lake Animal Hospital with a pet parrot and was immediately offered a shadowing job. Nelson is able to clip nails and wings, give fluids and injections for pain and knows what warrants a vet call.
A walk into Nelson's home any day will prove the intellect of the animals as they welcome you with a high-pitched "Good morning" or "Are you hungry?"
The parrot species, which includes about 350 types, is sensitive to many products and household items used on a daily basis, Nelson said. Many of the birds she takes in either lived with somebody that smoked cigarettes, had other animals, or didn't have the room or time to take care of them. Due to the negligence or chemicals, the birds Nelson brings in are physically or mentally disturbed causing them to lose or pluck out their feathers or have security issues.
"The level of care they require is beyond imaginable," Nelson said. "It's a lifestyle, you have to change everything."
To circumvent the problem of using daily toxic products, Nelson makes organic cleaners and chemicals to use around the birds.
A daily routine for Nelson has her continually feeding, cleaning and spending time with the birds.
Nelson wakes up in the morning to change the food and water while she also hand feeds her 1-year-old parrot with a syringe. Nelson also provides all natural supplements to help aid in the birds' recovery process.
"They are just something to help support them and grow their feathers back," Nelson said. "(Supplements) are very time consuming but I want them to be as happy as they can."
A daily routine of cleaning perches and cages is also quite common for Nelson while every four days she does a complete cleaning of her eight cages.
The developing non-profit organization was named to help provide awareness and education about the parrot species and the intelligence the animals have, Nelson said.
Currently in the midst of filing paperwork to obtain a 501c3 non-profit status, Nelson said she began the lengthy process in 2008 and now may have to hire a lawyer and, at a cost of $700, is waiting until the finances are in place.
With only a small number of in-kind donations and monetary gifts, Nelson has been supporting the birds out of her own pocket which continues to challenge the general manager at Bootleggers in Granite Falls.
Nelson said the time committed to the birds is comparable to raising children. She often hooks a perch up to a stroller and goes for walks with the animals.
"It's like watching a child with their infatuation with things and the way they explore and the bonds they will create with you," Nelson said.
Although birds take a lot of energy, Nelson said Consider the Birds was able to find homes for 14 parrots last year and currently has six birds available.
In order to hand over the ownership of a pet bird to Nelson, a thorough release form has to be filled out that includes historical information about the bird and facts like various foods eaten, veterinarian records and whether the bird has a diet. Just "a lot of stuff that will help me in finding them a new home," Nelson said.
While it takes a lot of paperwork to take in birds, Nelson said the adoption process is just as long and more personal for the birds and potential new owners.
To ensure a good home for the birds, the application process requires a reference, consent from any landlord and a home visit, if possible. But, by the end of the day, a relationship has to have formed between the bird and the adopting party.
"The bird has to like you as much as you like them," Nelson said.
A small adoption fee is also assessed, which goes right back toward the birds.
With a heightened awareness about parrots, Nelson said the demand for an avian veterinarian has increased as more bird owners are finding how delicate the animals are.
As she continues her love for the birds, Nelson hopes to one day have an official non-profit status and a long-term goal of having her own building specifically for the animals.
"I hope to one day go out of business," Nelson said. "If every bird could be taken care of properly and have a loving home that would make my day."