Birds of a Feather by Lorin Lindner

Provided by Linda A. DeStefano

Book Review by Collette Charbonneau

Translated into Spanish by Rob English

This is a true story – a sort of autobiography of how two parrot sanctuaries in California came to fruition. It is a recollection of life events by the author, Lorin Lindner, an animal lover and vegan. She recounts how she transitioned from running her own psychology practice to creating a rehabilitation program for veterans (and parrots). It all started when she took in a parrot while still in college. She was determined to navigate through the complexity of how to properly care for such a bird. She realized many people do not know how to do so and she had to do something to help.

She weaves her miraculous story into the sad, but true, story of why she had to build a parrot sanctuary in the first place. She presents honest, horrifying, and hopeful words to the plight of the parrot, a bird that is taken from his/her home in the Amazon as a baby and transported to the U.S. and sold to the highest bidder – overcrowded and uneducated/untrained pet stores or breeders who sell to unassuming people who just want a “pet”. As Lindner explains several times throughout her book, parrots need companionship, attention, proper food, clean cages, and room to fly around and spread their wings. While this can be easy for people to provide early on in their relationship with the parrots, it becomes harder as their lives get busier and the parrots continue to need a high level of attention and support. Most people do not realize, myself included, that parrots can live up to eighty years in captivity! It is hard for parrots to move around from home to home because they “imprint” or develop a deep connection to another bird, animal, or even a human. When they are separated by life circumstances, the parrot can have a difficult time recovering and moving on from that incident. Lindner wanted to help parrots.

Early in her career, after being approached by a homeless veteran needing someone to talk to, she realized other veterans needed help too. She began working with veterans at a nearby VA hospital and brought her two rescue parrots to work with her. The veterans often found it easier to communicate with a parrot than a person. She opened a parrot sanctuary for parrots in the community who could not stay with their human companions. Some of the veterans accompanied her each week to help clean cages, prepare their food, and socialize with them. Lindner then founded a rehabilitation program for veterans at the much closer VA hospital, that also happened to be a place for parrots.

Serenity Park, which opened in 2005, is described more like a garden sanctuary next to a hospital complex. The parrots, many of whom are severely traumatized, warm up to the veterans over time. They establish trust and help one another cope with the trauma they have experienced by learning that not all encounters with other humans are bad.

Lindner ends the book with hope for the veterans and parrots for whom she dedicated her life’s work. This book is a gentle reminder that people and our non-human companions both have feelings and past experiences that need to be recognized and addressed, in order for lifelong, meaningful relationships to exist. Just like us, they can find new meaning in life with the proper attention and care. Lindner reminds us that if we treat every living being right, we can all achieve true happiness and be successful in life.

Collette is a member of People for Animal Rights. You can contact People for Animal Rights at P.O. Box 15358, Syracuse 13215-0358, people4animalrightscny@gmail.com, (315)488-PURR (7877) between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m.  Visit us at peopleforanimalrightsofcny.org

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