Project Perry Works Toward A New Aviary For Special Needs African Greys

Enjoying the warmth of the heated section of the aviary on a cold winter day

There is a big difference between parrot rescues and parrot sanctuaries. Parrot rescues are faced with a daunting challenge. Their goal is to take in unwanted, sometimes very ill and emotionally unsettled parrots and make them right again so they are adoptable. In most cases, rescue birds are transient. If all goes to plan, they eventually find a home, leaving an open cage for another unwanted bird. I have unlimited respect for those who are able to handle the constant state of flux that is a parrot rescue.

The purpose of a parrot sanctuary is quite different. A bird is usually accepted into a sanctuary with the understanding that they will be a permanent resident. Some birds have been so failed by the human race that they are no longer willing to interact with people. The lucky ones find sanctuaries where they can live out their life with other birds, in the care of humans still, but free of close contact with them, as they so choose.

When a captive bird is determined to be happiest and most at peace in a” human-free” environment, their housing requirements change dramatically. Most rescues are not set up to cater to these needs.

How do you give care to a bird that is put off by your very presence? By caging it in the company of its own kind, in an aesthetically natural setting, in an aviary that is so large a fearful bird can simply retreat to the safety of a high and distant branch when the cage needs to be serviced. Project Perry does that better than anyone.

The conure aviary from the back - the birds are officially moving in this month!

Executive Director Matt Smith takes the notion of “permanent housing” to heart. The goal for his birds isn’t a new life with a doting family- his birds ARE home. Their future is now and he takes that very seriously.

Using zoo habitats as reference, his self-designed aviaries contain the best of nature: live trees, plants, waterfalls, and streams as well the advantages of technology: “When I started out I did a lot of thinking, trying to figure out how to build structures that we were able to use year-round in our four-season climate. What I came up with is utilizing greenhouse technology for most of the structure and modified it specifically for parrots. The heavy duty steel frame is covered with polycarbonate panels in the heated section and stainless steel mesh for the outside section. We also installed shade cloths and exhaust fans to keep things cool in the warmer weather and installed bird-safe furnaces to keep things warm in the winter.

We go through thousands of gallons of propane each winter – so our heating costs are fairly large depending on how harsh of a winter we have. The heat and cooling features are all set to thermostats so we’re able to keep it climate controlled throughout the year. We also have a misting system installed in the Grey Aviary for those extra hot summer days. Lastly, the entire Sanctuary has 100% backup from not one but two automatic standby generators in the event of a power outage. This is crucial for us – in the event of an outage, within 10 seconds the generators sense it and automatically start up and full power is restored. We don’t miss a beat!”

The largest enclosure is their 3,600 sq. ft. African grey aviary, which is currently at capacity.

Sitting in the hibiscus

This year, a new African grey enclosure is in the works. Matt explains that the need for a second grey aviary is the result of the large population of greys that are older, wild caught birds, or ex-breeders that have limited or no flight and need special accommodations. They require a more relaxed environment where they will not be disadvantaged by the flighted greys.

Matt currently has 10 birds in residence waiting for this enclosure to be completed and knows that there are many more where they came from. He understands that these birds also want a cage-free, natural environment to live their lives out in. The new grey enclosure will give them some extra space in the first aviary and provide a second option for greys in need.

Please take a second look back at the pictures in this post. Where, besides the zoo, do you see such attention to detail in a parrot habitat? If you are going to provide a forever home for a parrot that doesn’t care to live in a human world, this is the way to do it.

As you can imagine, the costs involved in building such elaborate permanent housing for these birds is very high. Last year readers raised over $5000 towards the construction of the conure aviary, which the conures will finally be able to moving into this month! Of course, we will share pictures of the big event with you!

Funding for the new grey aviary is trickling in very slowly, and Matt is holding out hope that he will meet his goal of  $6000  by the end of April – time is running out!  Please click here and donate what you can. Share this post with friends and raise awareness about the need for this new aviary. Every bird deserves a safe and peaceful harbor to call home.

The wonderful conure aviary volunteers in September 2012!

Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.



Where is this? That is amazing. I need to know. People are awesome, there should be a donate page.


Do you have a update regarding this facility??


Wish we had something like this in India. My parakeet appears so lonely when I see how well equipped you all are.


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