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A Cockatiel Comes Home

Also Read Our Article on How to Best Find a Lost Bird

Last year I received an urgent email from Milind Shah, the person who had helped train me to be the Pet Birds Guide at About. His beloved cockatiel had escaped his father’s apartment in Queens, New York while Milind was on vacation in Dallas. This bird had been a pet for 16 years, since Milind was only 9 years old. Needless to say, he was frantic and desperately wanted to get his bird back. I immediately told him aboutBirdHotline and told him to put up as many posters as he could with information about his bird. Milind set about to get his pet back. He has written an account of his experience so everyone here at Pet Birds can benefit from the story. Here is Milind Shah’s tale:

“I left Bobby, my cockatiel, with my dad while I visited my mom in Dallas. I left her at my dad’s place after I got back, only because he was really enjoying having her there. I always have the cage door open when I’m home, so she’s very used to flying around. Obviously my dad couldn’t keep her locked up, and not being very familiar with birds, he forgot to close one window. While my dad was doing something, she got spooked and flew straight out the 6th floor window. My father told me she flew across the street to the roof of the opposite building, then attempted to fly back, but got spooked, and flew off in another direction. He went searching for her for a couple of hours, but it got dark and it was futile to do the search then.

That night my dad called me. I’ve never heard him so nervous in my life. Needless to say, I was devastated. I have had this bird for 16 years, since I was 9. And I didn’t think there was any hope of finding her. Even the outer boroughs New York City are packed, and my search the following day made me realize how many different places a relatively small bird can hide. There are new buildings, abandoned buildings, front yards, back yards, trees, bushes, parks, fire escapes, spaces below air conditioners…It was maddening. There are also many different types of birds in this city, let alone great numbers of them. In a few hours I saw pigeons, sparrows, finches, crows, a hawk, sea gulls, and even a flock of geese. A fact I was never aware of and now found equally as maddening and especially frustrating.

I asked around at local pet stores and gave them my phone number. One pet store owner told me that cockatiels are very smart and could live through the winter. Once I told him how old she was, he gave a 3 month maximum. At this point I contacted Vera, the Pet Birds Guide, for some advice. I did as she said and posted on BirdHotline. I also created and posted flyers around the neighborhood. I posted about 30 color flyers in a 4 block radius. Of course, a few days after the flyers went up, we had a serious storm and everything washed away. I was in the process of making more, but it took time.

The day I posted the flyers, I left one in my dad’s hands to post in a nearby building. Instead he posted it in the window of the bakery. It’s this poster that got my bird back. The superintendent of a building spoke to some kids that had found her. They didn’t know how to take care of her and had her in a box and weren’t feeding her right. He had a cockatiel too, so he convinced the kids to give her up. He took care of her for a couple of days. Then a friend of his saw the last poster in the bakery and told him about it. He called and I got my bird back! Oh so dramatic, but it really was. No one would ever think that a bird could be found in a city as messy as this. Countless things could have happened to her in the week she was outside. She certainly lived the adventure of her life.”

This cockatiel showed up in my neighbor's yard, being tormented by cats. He brought him over - and I went around the neighborhood until I found the owners. I wish I hadn't, because they had a cage that was WAY too small and the bird seemed unhappy to see them again. Here he seems quite content in his temporary home!

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