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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Bird in the Hand...

It was an amazing day overall.  An hour or so before the Pomeranians were picked up for their trip to California, we received an unrelated phonecall.  It was a phonecall that made us all laugh.

I hear Jill, my assistant, saying, "Ya know what, I am going to have to discuss that with the doctor before I can answer that question."  I love when my employees say that.  I would much rather they ask me too many questions and annoy me, than answer a question with an incorrect answer.

Jill gallavants over to me with a Cheshire Cat smile on her face.  I anxiously say, "What?" with a nervous tremor in my voice.  What could the question be?  "Can we take in a litter of 12 black lab mix puppies?"  "My cat had six kittens and then got hit by a car, what should I do with them?"  "My landlord found out that I got a dog and I have to get rid of it, can you take it?"  WHAT COULD THE QUESTION BE?!

Jill begins, "There is a gentleman on the phone that was standing outside in his yard..."

My mind begins to fill in the rest of the sentence "...and found a litter of bunnies, no, a litter of kittens, no wait, saw a dog get thrown out of a car?"

Jill continued, while my mind raced, "and a bird landed on his shoulder and it won't go away.  What should he do?"

I almost thought she was joking, and yet from the expression on her face, I knew she wasn't! 

"See if he can bring it in?",  I answered with a questionmark.  I laughed out loud at the visual image of a man, who is likely more familiar with cattle or hogs than with birds, trying to get into his car with an unknown bird perched on his shoulder.  I expected to get a phone call at some point saying that the bird flew away when he tried to handle it or when he tried to get into the vehicle. 

Just as the van pulled up for the Poms' transport, a man walks into the office.  You guessed it, he had a bird on his shoulder. 

On his shoulder was a comfortably perched Common Grey Cockatiel.  Jill led them into the exam room to get the man's information and take down a description of the bird in case someone calls having lost one.  As I am about to step into the room, Jill comes out. 

"Does it have a band on it's leg?" 

"I don't know.  That is for you and Miguel to find out.  That bird really does not want to come off of his shoulder."  She laughed, and cowardly ran off, while beckoning for Miguel!

I worked at a pet store for years throughout high school and college.  In doing so, I learned quite a bit about handling birds and some other exotic animals.  I have had a few opportunities to teach Miguel about handling some exotics as well, but with his natural instincts, it is a much more graceful experience when he handles than when I do.

Miguel lays a small towel over the bird and gently places his fingers around the chest.  You have to be cautious not to compress the chest much on birds as they breathe more with the inward and outward motion of their chest than they do with their diaphragm, which is how we breathe.  He places his forefinger and middle finger on each side of the birds head so it cannot turn and bite either of us.  He gently lays the bird on it's back with it's feet up in the air, and exposes the band.

We write down the numbers.  The gentleman that the bird chose, also chose this little bird.  He decided to keep the bird while we try to find the owner. 

The bird seems to be more comfortable with men, so I wonder if the primary owner was male. Male cockatiels are often more tame and affectionate than females.  This bird's plumage indicates that it is likely male. All bird sex organs are hidden discreetly within the body and true sexing is only done via a small camera through an incision in the abdomen. The bright yellow face and sharp coloring make it more likely to be a male bird.

With his contact information and description of the bird, the gentleman departs with the bird in the same manner in which he entered, on the shoulder.  It was a truly comical sight to see.

In my research of bird bands, I know the bird originated in Iowa and was born in 1999.  The average lifespan of a cockatiel is 15 years with a life span ranging up to 22 years.  This little cutie is 11 years old. 

I called the Iowa Parrot Rescue and inquired as to whether there was a bird band registry.  Unfortunately, there is none.  I asked if anyone had reported having lost a cockatiel.  He has had no such reports.  He finds similar occurrences in bird rescue that we see with dogs and cats.  People can no longer keep the bird for whatever reason, so they open the window and let it fly away.  There is always a chance that the bird escaped inadvertently, and I sympathize with the owner if that is the case.  I wondered if there was someone out there looking for this gentle bird. 

I checked the Petfinder Lost Pet Classifieds.  I found a posting that an adult male Cockatiel had gone missing from near Merle Hay Mall in Des Moines on July 3rd.  This was before the bird arrived on the man's shoulder, so the timing is right.   Des Moines is an hour drive from Jewell.  That bird's wings must be tired if he flew that far.

I sent an email asking the poster of the ad for more identifying information on the bird, such as color and band numbers.  I will have to wait and see if there is a match between her bird and ours.  I also have to hope that the previous owner has some proof of ownership, like band number id.  I will update when I know more.

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1 comment:

Maggie T said...

Great story Lisa thank you for sharing! I do hope it turns out to be the lost bird yet it might be fun to think this bird flew into this man's life (via his shoulder) for a reason.