Updated April 4, 2021 . AmFam Team
When Lyndsey Whiteaker bought her first bird at age 20, she had no idea it would turn into a lifelong passion of rescuing parrots. And though she admits owning parrots isn’t for the faint of heart, Lyndsey doesn’t let this stand in the way of her dream to provide these colorful creatures a safe home to live.
The catalyst for Lyndsey’s passion for parrots started with some videos on YouTube.
“I used to watch funny parrot videos on Facebook or social media. I thought it would be so cool to have a talking, dancing pet,” Lyndsey said. “I found a blue and gold macaw for $600. They usually cost upwards of two- or three-thousand dollars, so I thought it was a good deal.”
Still in college at the time, Lyndsey dedicated much of her time outside of class taking care of her new friend, Maraca, who was only two weeks old when she got her. She quickly fell in love with parrots — even though they required a lot of attention.
“Maraca was completely dependent on me to make sure that she survived,” Lyndsey said. “As Maraca grew up, she turned into this big, beautiful and amazing bird. I started to research parrots and began to realize how hard they are to take care of.”
Lyndsey wouldn’t be the advocate for parrots that she is without the mindset that you have to overcome challenges to achieve your goal. Not only are parrots a big responsibility, but they also require a large time commitment. The average parrot lives to be 70 years old.
“On top of that, they have the cognitive ability of a 6-year-old child. It’s basically like having a toddler your entire life,” Lyndsey explained.
When people started to hear about Lyndsey and her parrot, they often came to her for help.
“I would have people reach out and say things like, ‘My mom passed away, and she had this parrot for 30 years. What do we do with it? What do we feed it?’”
Soon Lyndsey began taking parrots in for people. Since 2010, she has helped re-home eight parrots, and currently has five parrots in her own home. She even added a sunroom to her house so that the birds have a space of their own.
“There aren’t rescue organizations for parrots like you see for dogs and cats. I’m doing the work myself to make sure the parrots are taken care of and helping find them adoptive families.”
Lyndsey credits her career as an American Family agency owner in Maryland Heights, Mo. with helping her pursue her dream of rescuing parrots.
“Any time you have a purpose or a passion it resonates, because it’s what our campaigns are built around. It’s the idea of protecting your dreams.” Lyndsey says.
One of the birds she had was even able to sing the American Family jingle.
“When you want to teach a parrot something, you kind of just put it on repeat for them and if they like it, they’ll start doing it. If they don’t like it, they won’t repeat it,” Lyndsey explained.
The gratification that comes with rescuing parrots has its price: be prepared for hard work and commitment.
“Sometimes you come home and you’re expecting a quiet and clean home, but the parrots are throwing food all over the place and screaming loudly. It definitely tests your patience,” Lyndsey says. “Everybody wants a parrot because they think they are going to be this fun, talking and dancing pet. That’s really not the case. They are very temperamental. They get angry, and they get sad. They pluck their feathers out if they don’t like what you are doing. It’s kind of like having a little dinosaur.”
Though it can be a trying undertaking to raise and rescue parrots, it’s Lyndsey’s refusal to let challenges stand in her way that make her the inspiration that she is to those around her. And at American Family, that’s exactly the perseverance we admire in those pursuing their dream.
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