A PLAN to create one of the country’s biggest private aviaries, dedicated to providing a forever home for neglected, unwanted and abused parrots, has been approved.
Former primary school teacher Tricia Phillips has been granted consent by Hambleton District Council to build a sanctuary for her expanding flock of 40 conures, cockatiels, kakariki, senegals, rosellas, Hahns macaws and African greys that rescue centres have been unable to rehome.
Mrs Phillips, who runs a farm and glamping site at Busby Stoop near Thirsk with her husband, Alan, said she had been inspired to build the 313.54sq m aviary after being horrified by the conditions and treatment many of the intelligent birds with complex social needs face.
Groups such as North Yorkshire Parrot Rescue say parrots are in crisis after the 2007 EU Commission ban on importing wild birds into Europe sparked a domestic breeding boom, resulting in a large number of unwanted parrots, which can live up to 80 years old.
Mrs Phillips said while parrots need specialist care and a diet including fresh fruit and vegetables, many of the birds are bought on impulse with little knowledge about their natural needs for flying space or to live in large friendship groups.
She said: “Some of my birds have the intelligence of a six-year-old child, but the emotional intelligence of a two-year-old. It’s like having a permanent toddler for 80 years in some cases, but 80 per cent of parrots are rehomed within the first two years of their life because people have no concept about what they’re taking on.”
Two of the most recent additions to Mrs Phillips’ Morndyke Parrot Sanctuary flock have been conure Minnie and senegal Sparky that had lived in separate cages next to each other for 20 years before their owner died.
She said: “Parrots are not domesticated, with most being only two or three generations from wild-caught ancestors where they had the full Amazonian basin or Congo to fly around in. We’re putting them in tiny breeding cages and taking their young off them when they’re hatched, but they have the same maternal instincts as humans and mourn the same.
“A lot of the birds end up self-harming or develop weird habits as it’s the only way of coping. I can’t give these birds back to the wild, but I can try and give them the next best thing.”
The sanctuary will feature a building site office converted into a heated and lit indoor area with hardwood java trees, a food preparation room, quarantine area, and an array of ropes for perches.
The building will be secured for the birds, all of which have names such as Jane Austin or Emily Bronte, to stop predators from attacking and injuring the birds, some of which are elderly or disabled.
The aviary, which the council found was appropriate development in the countryside, will eventually lead to a netted 75ft by 45ft by 20ft high flight area, which she needs to raise £36,000 to fund.
Mrs Phillips said the sanctuary could not be opened to visitors as it would not be a safe environment, adding “It is an aviary for the birds, not people”. Instead, she has launched an appeal for donations and invited people to sponsor her birds.
She said: “The biggest for them is learning how to be a parrot again rather than just an ornament in someone’s living room.”
For details, visit morndykeparrotsanctuary.org.uk
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