Keriellen Lohrman recently greeted a group of visitors at the parking lot of the Bird Gardens of Naples.
Keriellen is the owner of the Bird Gardens of Naples, a non-profit organization whose sole purpose is parrot welfare. It is an outreach and placement program that places parrots, which are abandoned, abused or in need of a home, into safe custody. They do have a few “nice birds” for adoption, but most of the parrots are too wild to be re-integrated.
Before you even begin the tour, you can hear the parrots screaming. Keriellen greeted guests with her dog, Roxy, who is going on nine years. Keriellen told the group that for Roxy, this is her forever home, but for the parrots, there is no forever home, as they can live up to 100-plus years.
Keriellen had her first bird when she was six years old. It was a parakeet which lived for 26 years. Her second bird was a cockatoo named Max, who hated her from the first day. Max is now 43 years old.
Her advice for those who are thinking of adopting a parrot, “Adopt a bird that likes you. If a bird does not like you – that is it. There is nothing you can do about it. It may sound horrible, but that is nature.”
The parrots at the Bird Gardens of Naples are fed a pelletized diet which is high in protein and low in fat, ideal for caged birds. A lot of caged parrots succumb to diabetes, heart and respiratory issues due to an improper diet.
The group was invited to enter a large cage with a few ground rules. “If you hold out a nut in your hand, they will fly down the cage and take it. And if you offer them a finger, they will take that, too.” Soon, a beautiful macaw landed on someone’s shoulder, with claws digging into flesh. It was feeding time and the macaws were trained to land from one outstretched arm to the other.
The group visited rows of caged, beautiful macaws, rose breasted cockatoos, conures and eclectus, and fed them unsalted nuts (no peanuts) through the cages.
Sharon Epple of Marco Island owns a male Panama amazon parrot named Tango. Tango came home to the Epple Family when he was 12 weeks old. He learned words and tricks very quickly, but last year Tango’s behavior started to change as he was getting sexually mature.
Tango started to bond with Brad showing aggression towards Sharon. According to their veterinarian, this behavior is unlikely to change. Tango is a well-loved member of the family. Panama amazons are known to live up to their 70s, and the Epples have provided for Tango’s care in their Wills.
Bird Gardens of Naples is located at 1060 Purple Martin Drive, Naples (813-841-1911). Tours are generally at 11 AM, Thursday through Sunday. Reservations are required online at birdgardensofnaples.org. Bring bug spray, comfortable shoes, and unsalted nuts (no peanuts). The cost is free but donations are welcome.