When you see a parrot, you probably think of the catchphrase associated with these birds: “Polly wants a cracker.” But in the case of Dorothy and Jerry Walsh, their passion is finding “Polly” a good home.
Dorothy and Jerry knew they needed to help when encountering so many unwanted and neglected exotic birds in Hawaii. It turns out that many Hawaiians feel that owning a parrot is part of living in paradise. Many, however, are unaware of the cost, the commitment, and that parrots may outlive them. A prime example is cockatoos, which can live for 40-60 years! Parrots in Paradise is a non-profit in Kealakekua, South Kona, specializing in parrot rescue, rehabilitation, education, and adoption.
The Walshs also discovered that the most well-intentioned bird owner might encounter a season of life where they need to find their bird a new home. Examples are death in the family, divorce, and moving. Sometimes, neighbors complain about the bird’s cawing and it needs to be relocated.
So in 2003, Dorothy and Jerry launched Parrots in Paradise, a sanctuary for exotic birds. They offer parrot owners a safe refuge for their beloved birds, and they also rescue birds from abusive situations.
Parrots in Paradise is situated 2,000 feet above sea level in Upcountry. The views from the sanctuary are picturesque, primarily since it’s on what was once a Macadamia nut farm. But the ocean views and unique plants aren’t the main attraction: the birds are! As they say at Parrots in Paradise, “Every parrot has a story,” and you can hear these stories on a tour.
If you’re in Hawaii, you can book a tour on their website, and your money is a donation to support the work at Parrots in Paradise. Visitors rave about the experience that can last 1-2 hours. You’ll learn about the mission of Parrots in Paradise and how the parrots’ nutrition and habitat are vital to survival and flourishing.
Perfect photo opportunities abound when you tour the facilities. You’ll see firsthand how exotic birds are diverse and rich in color. And you’ll also witness how personalities differ between cockatoos, lovebirds, macaws, and other species. If you’re interested, you may even interact with some of the well-trained parrots.
For an enjoyable tour experience, be sure to wear or bring:
- Casual clothes
- Closed-toe shoes
- Insect repellant
Even if you’re not a die-hard animal lover, we think you’ll love visiting Parrots in Paradise. Your ticket cost will help keep these birds safe and well-cared for, and you’ll be able to interact with beautiful colored birds. And it’s perfect for young children or retirees “young at heart.”
Visitors to Parrots in Paradise say it’s off the beaten path and can be difficult, or an adventure, to locate. The best app to use is Apple Maps which shows the sanctuary off Kingsley Road.