Bothasig bird lover gives refuge to unwanted parrots

Lisa Cooper teaches her bird Magnum, a macaw parrot, how to fly back to her

Animal lover Lisa Cooper, of Bothasig, is on a mission to save unwanted pets, especially parrots, after her 3-year-old African grey, Harry, was found dead in Edgemead last week.

Nearly 20 minutes after Tabletalk’s online platform posted a picture of Harry, with his grey body, white face and red tail, Lisa let us know the parrot had been found but “did not make it”.

Harry had been missing for five days after flying out the front door of Lisa’s home on Monday July 26. She says Harry could have died of dehydration as the bird’s body bore no signs of injury.

“It is devastating not knowing what happened to him. I am so saddened that he wasn’t more responsive to people. It could have saved his life,” she says.

Lisa says she has always loved animals but has a deeper connection with birds from hand-raising her first African grey in 2001.

She now has 20 birds, housed in a room on her property. Most are rescues while others she just couldn’t resist taking home with her, including some that are disabled.

She teaches the birds how to fly back home but says this “recalling method” can be very hard for some birds to learn. Harry was far too shy and nervous for it and just wanted to sit on her husband Greg’s shoulder most of the time, she says.

Lisa doesn’t only take in unwanted parrots, she also teaches owners of the birds the right way to care for them.

“So many birds live their life on just sunflower seeds and no stimulation or diet, and they screech and become unwanted pets,” she says.

According to her, a parrot’s diet should be 50% vegetables, 10% fruit, and 40% pellets. And they should always have water. Pine nuts, walnuts, almonds, cashews, and pistachios are healthy snacks for the birds.

A great start to a parrot’s day, says Lisa, is a breakfast that includes a slice of apple, a slice of orange, a piece of banana, 1 cashew nut, crushed pellets, and seed mix sprinkled over it all.

Don’t give parrots canned fruits and vegetables because they have a lot of sodium and preservatives, she says. Frozen vegetables, cooked up, are sometimes acceptable.

If you find a missing bird, try to get it to stay with you, so you can reunite it with its owner, she says.

“If a domestic bird is found dead in your garden, take down the ring number and a description and keep it for the owner to bring closure,” says Lisa.

Contact Cheeky Beaks Rescue at www.cheeckybeaks.org.za or @cheekybeakssa if you find a domestic bird or parrot, says Lisa. The non-profit helps to find the bird’s correct owners and fosters birds until the owners are found. For more advice, email Lisa at animalwhispers1@gmail.com

Lisa Cooper has 20 birds, housed in a room on her property.