Adopting a wild bird is an excellent way to support bird conservation, rehabilitation and local birding education. Many organizations allow individuals to “adopt” or sponsor wild birds to help fund research and conservation, as well as to help cover the costs of feeding and rehabilitating birds, organizing educational programs, maintaining bird care facilities and tracking banded wild birds. Adopting a bird is a great way to support birding and is a fabulous gift for a conscientious birder.
Where to Adopt Wild Birds
Different types of organizations may offer bird sponsorship or adoption opportunities. Birding-related organizations that frequently use adoptions as part of their fundraising efforts include:
- Wildlife conservation agencies
- Birding organizations
- Science museums
- Bird rehabilitation facilities
- University ornithology departments
Types of Birds Available for Adoption
The exact species of birds available for sponsorship or adoption will vary for each organization. Some organizations permit contributors to adopt a specific bird, either one that is a permanent resident because it cannot be successfully released into the wild or one that is banded with a specific identification number. Other organizations use more general adoption practices where contributions will support specific species of birds though the sponsors may not have one individual bird connected to their donation.
Depending on the organization, all types of birds can be adopted. Birds of prey including owls, hawks and eagles are the most common, followed by endangered bird species and unusual birds such as penguins or rare shorebirds. Specialized organizations may offer adoptions on other bird species, including songbirds and hummingbirds.
The cost of adopting a wild bird ranges from $10 to $500 or higher depending on the organization, bird species and level of contribution. Some organizations require specific fees for specific bird species, while others have different tiers of adoption to help support each bird species. In many cases, adoption or sponsorship costs can be used as charitable tax deductions depending on the organization and its purposes.
What Sponsors Receive
Individuals who donate to a wildlife organization in order to sponsor a wild bird often receive an adoption kit as a commemorative thank you for their support. The kit may include several things, such as:
- Official adoption certificate
- An individual bird’s photograph, history or identification number
- Species fact sheet or conservation details
- Membership to the parent organization
- Gift items such as a bag, plush bird or commemorative frame
- Subscriptions to the organization’s publications
- Merchandise or admission discounts for the facility
- Special event invitations to birding festivals or facilities
Organizations that Offer Bird Adoptions
The following organizations are only a few of those that offer bird sponsorship and adoption opportunities. Included is a sample list of the species each offers for adoption, though those details are subject to change based on each organization’s needs and involvement in different bird conservation efforts. To find a specific bird, simply do an online search for “bird adoption” or “bird sponsorship” and the name of your preferred species to adopt.
- World Wildlife Fund: Penguin, blue-footed booby, snowy owl, blue-footed booby, macaw
- The Avian Reconditioning Center: American kestrel, bald eagle, barred owl
- International Bird Rescue: Loon, heron, pelican
- Hawk Watch International: Merlin, golden eagle, peregrine falcon
- Suncoast Sea Bird Sanctuary: Brown pelican, large and small water birds
- Birds of Prey Foundation: Eagles, hawks, owls, American kestrel, prairie falcon
- Raptor Education Group: Sandhill crane, turkey vulture, red-shouldered hawk
- National Aviary: African penguin, green-winged macaw, Harris's hawk
- Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory: Multiple hummingbird species