BUTTE, Mont. -

Lori McAlexander earned her nickname years ago.

?I was the kid that drug home every bird that fell out of its nest, every stray dog, every stray cat, every injured bunny, nursed them back to health and set them free," McAlexander said.

From Chicago, McAlexander wanted to be closer to her family so she moved to Butte, a mile above sea level in a state where what she knew could be used to save what she loved.

?Birds are not like cats and dogs they're very specialized and complex animals and it's just takes a special person to care for a bird," McAlexander said.

McAlexander couldn't find a rescue for exotic birds anywhere in Montana. She knew exotic birds can't be kept in just any cage or in any animal shelter.

Eight years later McAlexander is best known as the bird lady. It?s not uncommon for folks to see McAlexander or her volunteers walking the birds around town in Butte.

Cockatoos can live up to 65 years and can outlive their owner so at times they can outlive their owner.

Volunteers like Ryan Trevithick know each bird has its own personality.

They can like some people and not others, and some never get over losing their owner.

Trevithick said the birds are social creatures and just like people can bond with the people they trust the most. In some cases it may mean they only get along with one person.

He said those characteristics are why many owners misunderstand their bird and can lead to them being mistreated.

?We get a lot of birds in that have been so abused that we don't really want to make them go through the trauma of going to a new home so we'd like to just be able to keep them and give them a new home where they'll be provided for," Trevithick said.

The right home is just what birds like Beamer need. He was rescued from an animal shelter in Missoula. McAlexander said he was put in the wrong kind of metal cage that poisoned him.

Now Beamer has seizures and can't stop plucking his feathers.

To McAlexander, Beamer is a prime example why the rescue needs its own facility. Their current location above the jewelry store, Buffalo Gallery and Frame Shop, on Broadway St. is temporary.

Problem is, building a permanent home would cost more than this small nonprofit can afford.

"The financial aspects of running a shelter is the biggest struggle. We can't grow without the funds and we're looking for a permanent home," McAlexander said.

Owner of Buffalo Gallery and Frame Shop Donna Hollingsworth said she enjoys having the birds in her building, but understands it would be best for the birds to have their own place.

?As much as I like the birds and love having them here it would be great to see them have a facility that?s actually catering to taking care of the birds needs,? Hollingsworth said.

Finances may be tight, but if you ask McAlexander, it's the staff's love for the birds that will always keep the rescue afloat.

"That's kind of been a long life passion of mine. I like animals sometimes more than I like people so it's just one of those things it's a labor of love," McAlexander said.

After all, she's been doing it since she was big enough to pack an animal home.

To learn more about Montana Parrot & Exotic Bird Sanctuary visit their website at http://www.mpebs.com/.