More than 1,200 birds from 43 different states, including Alaska, call Feathered Friends Forever in Harlem their home. (WRDW-TV / Dec. 20, 2011)
News 12 at This Morning / Monday, Dec. 20, 2011
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- It's a habitat as close to paradise as these birds will ever see.
More than 1,200 birds from 43 different states, including Alaska, call Feathered Friends Forever in Harlem their home.
"The rescue was designed to save birds; two, to help birds; three, to educate," said Ron Johnson, CEO and founder of Feathered Friends Forever.
Walk through the sanctuary and you'll see many unlikely pairs.
"Probably the most unique pair is Hannah and Coca," said Bob Courtwright from Feathered Friends Forever.
Hannah, a great blue and gold Macaw, protects Coca the tiny Conure.
"Hannah would walk around and she found Coca," Courtwright said. "Hannah would climb down in there and sit there. You couldn't see Coca because Coca was tucked up under her wing."
They are intelligent animals that flock to caring hands and bonds of friendship, but more and more owners are letting them go because they can't afford them anymore.
"They can't be turned loose because there is not enough natural environment for them to forage for food," Courtwright said.
The sanctuary is also helping to preserve some of these gems.
"We have a very rare Amazon. As far as we can tell, there is only 56 of them in the U.S.," Johnson explained.
Some of these birds like Boo Boo the white Cockatoo can live to be 100 years old.
"They are as close to human as you'd ever want to deal with," Johnson said.
Some of the birds can talk in full sentences and as they sit atop their perches at the sanctuary, they can take comfort in knowing they can age gracefully.
If you want to visit the sanctuary at 612 Byrd Drive in Harlem, they are open on weekends from 11 a.m. until dusk. There are adoption options available to for pet owners who may be seriously considering making one of these exotic birds a pet. You can visit their website to find out more information about the adoption process.