Wings of Hope: An Inside Look at Northeast Tennessee Avian Rescue

Wings of Hope: An Inside Look at Northeast Tennessee Avian Rescue

Hey there, fellow bird lovers, get ready for a dose of inspiration!

Today, we're catching up with Leigh Furman, the heart and soul behind North East Tennessee Avian Rescue and Rehabilitation. 

Join us as we hear Leigh's own words, where challenges meet triumphs, and dedication knows no bounds. 

Alex Bird Fun Box



Tell us about your Bird Rescue and its mission

My bird rescue was founded in 2017 by my husband, Joel Furman, and myself, Leigh Furman. We operate it from our home, where we provide shelter for 80+ birds, ranging from finches to macaws/toucans. Among them, some are sanctuary birds, meaning they will spend their lives here due to family requests, disabilities, or personality issues. I have developed a deep affection for these incredible creatures, a love I never anticipated having. Every bird that comes into my rescue touches my soul and spirit; each one has its unique story and personality.

 Mission: To provide a safe haven for neglected, abandoned or abused captive parrots and promote compassionate and rehabilitative treatment. To work with families, individuals , and the community through education in the proper care and responsibilities of adopting a parrot. 

What inspired you to start rescuing birds?

I had a Jardine parrot and a Caique, and people who no longer wanted their birds kept reaching out to me, asking if I could take them in. At one point, I found myself caring for 15 birds simultaneously. It dawned on me that there must be countless others struggling to care for their birds as well. That realization led me to start the rescue. It's been about six years now, and we're going strong.

The need for parrot sanctuaries and rescues is immense. Parrots have long lifespans, often outliving their original families. Sadly, many people don't do enough research before getting a bird. As a result, these feathered companions can be quite challenging to handle and care for. This lack of understanding often leads them to be either sold or placed in rescues like ours.

Which bird species do you primarily rescue? 

I rescue all species, from finches to Macaws/Toucans! We have a wide variety here at the rescue. 

Share a memorable rescue story that touched your heart. 

The most memorable one was Elsa's rescue. I had just returned from a much-needed vacation in Miami when I received a phone call from a lady. She told me there was a macaw stuck outside in a cage, and the temperature was dropping to 0 degrees that night. I was flying into Knoxville airport around 7 pm, and my husband was picking me up. When I landed back in Tennessee, it was about 10 degrees at 7 pm and getting colder.

My husband and I hurried to the location where the macaw was supposed to be. To our shock, we found a poor blue and gold macaw sitting in a three-sided shed in 2-degree weather, shivering. She had been fed chicken feed, and her water bowl was frozen solid. According to the lady who called, the water had been frozen all day, so she hadn't had anything to drink.

Her cage was an outdoor rabbit cage, rusted and barely holding up. We had to cut the wires to get her out. Luckily, I had a blanket with me. After my husband cut the wire, I wrapped her in the blanket and rushed her to the car. We turned on the heat, and she sat on my lap the whole way home, warming up. I saved that bird that night, and I could tell she was grateful for the warmth and care.

What challenges do you face in your rescue operations? 

Financial challenges have been a significant hurdle for us. We receive very few donations, so most of the expenses for these birds come out of my pocket. I've attempted to secure grants, but unfortunately, I'm constantly turned down. For the first four years, before obtaining our 501c3 status, all the funding came directly from my personal finances.

Space is another pressing issue we face. We desperately need a sanctuary where none of the birds would be caged, allowing each species to have its own flight aviary. This would provide them with a more natural and spacious environment.

Highlight a successful rehabilitation and adoption story.

It has to be Sonny and her story. Sonny was here for 5 years and overlooked by everyone because she has a scissor beak. Sonny was and is the sweetest baby. She is in the best home and I still see her a lot. She comes and gets her nails and beak trims from me. She is thriving and deserves the best.

 How do you educate the public about avian welfare?

I educate everyone who comes to the rescue about parrot ownership. I go over their nutritional needs, dangers and toxins, mental stimulation, and overall health and well-being. I give them reading material and show them all the birds and point out how noisy and messy they can be. I show them the food I feed them here and tell them they need to stay in the same food and I show them the proper toys for the proper size of bird. I go over all safety and health hazards that are found in the home. I will do a home visit prior to adoption and look and make sure there are no safety risks, if so then it will have to be removed.

 Can individuals or businesses support your rescue efforts?

Absolutely!! They can order from our Amazon Wishlist, send a monetary donation through PayPal or check. They can get our address and order from Chewy for us and have it directly shipped to the rescue. Multiple ways to help support the rescue and the birds. 

What are your organization's future goals for bird rescue?

To have a large facility and have all the birds out of cages. To have a special room for meet and greets so the bird and families can try to bond. I would love to have more volunteers to help clean, feed, and change waters when we have our new large facility! To continue to educate the community on parrot ownership and how to make sure they are a part of your family.

 Any advice for new bird owners to ensure their pets' well-being?

I always tell folks to do your research prior to even thinking about adding a bird to their family. Make sure your bird has the proper nutrition, the largest cage possible, a lot and a variety of toys for mental stimulation and foraging, hours a day out of their cage and interacting with the family, and always make sure there are no hazards near their birds to cause an accident or death.


Support Avian welfare


Leigh Furman's dedication to avian welfare shines brightly through her words. Her rescue is a testament to the power of love, compassion, and education. As bird lovers, let's stand together to support the incredible work of North East Tennessee Avian Rescue and Rehabilitation.

Together, we can make a difference in the lives of these beautiful creatures.

To learn more about the rescue and discover ways to contribute, click here. Let's spread our wings of hope and create a better world for our feathered companions! 


Hi Robert. Great idea finding a birdie friend for your senior cockatiel! They’d surely love the company. I recommend checking out local parrot rescues in your area. There are many wonderful birds in need of loving homes, and you might find the perfect match for your senior. Good luck!


Hi there.Im looking for a mature cockatiel to become friends with my senior citizen Cockatiel.Any ideas what I can do for my little 26 year old senior.


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