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Exotic bird haven hosts open house
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LEXINGTON — The Kristosiks’ Christmas open house ruffled a few feathers, but that’s to be expected in a home where birds are there to greet human guests.

The Kristosiks run Dee’s Haven, a place for homeless birds, from their Oglethorpe County home and held a Christmas-themed party this weekend for people to see the birds and think about adopting a parrot or donating money to the charity.

Last year, the couple had seven exotic birds — that number is now nearing two dozen and includes an endangered Buffon’s macaw, trilling sun conures and crested cockatoos in a whole palette of colors.

The couple has collected the birds from people who couldn’t keep them because of time or money issues, and in one case, provided homes to five parrots whose owner died. They’re also boarding two parrots for an Army soldier who’s stationed overseas for a year, said Donna Kristosik, the founder of Dee’s Haven, along with her husband, Jonathan Kristosik.

Nine of the birds are not adoptable, but she’d like to find owners for the rest of her temporary flock, Donna said.

"It’s always nice for them to have some homes for Christmas," she said.

Karen Holley of Columbus went through Dee’s Haven’s application process and picked up her two new parrots, Cuddles, a blue crown conure, and Cisco, a bald Hahn’s macaw during the Christmas open house.

Cuddles and Cisco aren’t her first birds, and Holley decided to adopt because she wanted to give the previously unwanted parrots a good nest, she said.

"They look like they’re very nice, sweet birds," she said, peeking at her new companions.

The birds are a kind of Christmas present to herself, but she’ll be able to share the fun this holiday, Holley said.

"I do have a niece that will be excited," she said.

Curious people stopped by the open house to look at the birds, housed in elaborate cages throughout the three-bedroom house.

What once was a home office space now is full of cockatoos, Donna Kristosik said.

Other bird lovers joined the festivities and offered advice to first-time bird owners about how best to care for their animals.

"These are like having a 3-year-old for the rest of their lives," she said.

While birds can be great companions, they require lots of attention, regular trips to the vet and time with their human friends, said Deb Allwein, founder of a nonprofit Nicholson organization that cares for birds that are not adoptable because of temper or medical problems.

"Birds are not dogs and cats," Allwein said. "They are not domesticated. They are wild."

They also live longer lives — some reaching 75 years old — than what most people expect, she said.

"A parrot will average seven homes in its lifetime," Allwein said.

The sanctuary houses more than 20 birds right now, and they love Christmas because she gives them holiday-themed treats like unbuttered popcorn, cranberries and pine cones with peanut butter.

Christmas also is a great time for the Kristosiks to introduce people to the joys and pitfalls of parrot ownership, she said.

"It’s a wonderful time to network," Allwein said.

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