Edmonton

Parrots unperched from Fort McMurray find refuge in Sherwood Park

Pet parrots evacuated from their homes in Fort McMurray are finding a safe place to roost in Sherwood Park.

More than 25 exotic birds have taken refuge at the Meika's Birdhouse

Meika's Birdhouse has become a safe haven for birds that have been displaced by the Fort McMurray fire. 1:17

Pet parrots un-perched from their homes in Fort McMurray are finding a safe place to roost in Sherwood Park. 

Meika's Birdhouse, a pet store and bird rescue operation, is providing free "bird-sitting" services to wildfire evacuees.

More than 25 parrots and exotic birds have taken refuge at their bird safehouse since 94,000 people were ordered out of Fort McMurray. 

"The owners are stressed and the birds really pick up on that, so they're not going to feel relaxed until their owners feel relaxed," said owner Ian Sprague.

Some of the birds from Fort McMurray have been with the same family for more than 20 years. There have been a lot of tearful farewells and ruffled feathers inside the shop in the last week, Sprague said.

Some of the birds have been pacing on their perches, and nervously plucking their feathers from the stress of separation. 

"The owners are obviously traumatized. The birds are obviously traumatized," said Sprague. "We try our best to keep them occupied so they're doing okay, but they're still fairly wound up."

Sprague says exotic birds are a handful at the best of times. He admits that caring for dozens of them all at once has been a challenge.

"Simply because they're loud, they're destructive and intelligent. As a whole, it's like having a feathered person in your house. Every day's an adventure."

The pet shop is taking care of more than 25 exotic birds from Fort McMurray. (CBC Edmonton)
 Dozens of volunteers have been coming in to help care for the creatures, providing plenty of food, treats and new toys.

As the saying goes, birds of a feather flock together — but that's not always the case in the parrot community.

"They're eccentric, I guess you would say. They're quirky, they're a very passionate group (and) tend to bicker," Sprague said.

"But when a crisis like this happens, all that gets put aside," Sprauge said. "Everybody is full of support, and then as soon as it's done, we'll go back to bickering back and forth."

Dozens of volunteers have been helping to care for the birds until their owners can return home to Fort McMurray. (CBC Edmonton )

The shop will be caring for the birds free of charge, as long as it takes, something that would not have been possible without generous donations of time and supplies from the parrot owner community. 

"It's very rewarding. It's too bad we can't be this nice all the time," said Sprague.