PINEVILLE, N.C. -- Grab your margarita. There's some parrot heads in Pineville. You could say they know how to shake a tail feather.
"It's just amazing how much a part of your life they are," said Debbie Foster, a board member with Parrot University, which is also the home of Companion Parrots Re-homed, or CPR.
"These big guys can have the intelligence level of a 2- to 3-year-old child," Foster said, referring to the large parrots that decorate their facility.
CPR is a bird rescue program that fosters birds and finds them homes. The program has almost 60 birds now and they keep coming.
"We may have a homeowner who is losing his home and they've got multiple birds to get rid of," said Foster.
Foster said birds are one of the most popular pets in the United States. While there are thousands of dog and cat shelters around the country -- there are roughly 100 for birds. That means there aren't many places for them to go.
"We have this silent epidemic basically," Foster said. "These are amazing animals so people make rash and uninformed decisions."
Foster said many people can afford birds, some of which can live to be 100.
"It's important that you provide the proper food, housing and vet care for that bird. They can become a huge investment in your life," she said.
Circumstances may also mean they need a home. One African Grey, Grayson, is at Parrot University because his owner serving in Iraq. CPR will make sure he is taken care of while his owner is away.
"We have this huge number and huge need and very few people who can answer that need," said Foster.
If you are interested in caring for a bird, Parrot U offers classes for future owners or foster pet owners. If you are leery of taking a bird into your home, you can sponsor a bird's care with a small donation. A regular vet visit for a large bird can cost $250.
For more information on Parrot U and CPR, click here.
If you want to check out the birds for yourself, Parrot U is also having a Birdie Birthday Bash Saturday, July 17 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. They'll have cake, tours and specials on bird supplies.