Attention birdwatchers in New Carlisle. Did you have any unusual visitors to your feeders last week? Did you hear a strange voice calling from your trees? Did you see sparrows frolicking in your bird bath with a parrot? Well, you were not imagining it.
Last week a parrot named Milo had a great adventure in the tropical summer flora of New Carlisle. Milo was living the dream until he was apprehended by a search coordinated on Facebook. Really. It happened.
Abbey Mercer and her husband Joshua have three beautiful parrots that they enjoy along with their puppy.
Eva is a green cheeked conure that Abbey has raised since she hatched. Adrian is an Indian ringneck parrot that they have had for two years.
And then there is the newest member of the family, a blue headed pionus parrot. Milo hasn’t been with the Mercers for long, but he has turned out to be quite the talker and has learned quickly. He even likes to go for evening walks with the dog. Both Milo and the dog have leashes, of course.
“We were taking a walk, and Milo was properly restrained in his harness, but something caught his eye and when he took off, the leash slipped from my hand. He was out of my sight within seconds,” said Abbey.
Milo escaped around 6 p.m. on Monday.
“It was the worst feeling in the world. My heart hurt, and I kept blaming myself,” she said. “It happened on the corner of Langdale and Zimmerman.”
Now chasing down an escaped parrot is not like trying to find any other lost pet. Parrots are not restricted by fences and it is impossible to thoroughly search every tall leafy tree.
I remember a flock of rowdy parrots in our neighborhood in Hawaii. They lived in palm trees and gladly accepted any escaped feathered friend into their multicolored gang, which included parakeets. They were noisy, lawless and loved taunting the neighborhood kids who tried to catch them.
Luckily Milo did not have had other parrots to lead him astray in New Carlisle, but I’m sure there were some other distractions. I wonder what the sparrows and cardinals thought when they shared a tree branch with him. Did they think he was a clown or a rock star?
Meanwhile, back at the Mercer home, parrots Eva and Adrian were very quiet. They knew something was wrong. And Abbey, her family and friends went into in serious search mode. It helped considerably that Abbey understood parrot behavior.
“I called until dark that night. I gave up at dark because it is their instinct to be still and quiet at that point. Then I was out at first light Tuesday calling and searching and walked a total of 7.5 miles searching and hanging flyers until dark,” said Abbey who was out again at first light on Wednesday with no luck. Then she had to go to work.
Meanwhile, Abbey’s postings on social media were capturing attention. On a New Carlisle Facebook page, she posted a video of Milo and a recording of his squawking.
“Milo LOVES to hear himself and talk back,” she posted. “If you are out for a walk today and could play this video as loud as possible on your phones, perhaps he will call out.”
The New Carlisle Facebook community responded. People walked around Smith Park playing the Milo recording. They played it while they walked their babies in strollers. School kids joined in after classes. The recording was broadcast on Zimmerman, Falcon, Smith, Lake, Langdale, Glenn and all over that area of town.
On Wednesday they got their big break. Angie Dillon, who lived near where Milo disappeared, reported that she thought she had heard him. Abbey’s teenage brothers, Jesse and Ethan, searched yards and sighted the escapee.
Milo was calmly sitting on a mowed lawn with his leash caught on a fallen branch. Angie’s two brothers followed her instructions and distracted him with treats while one of them sneaked up to get him.
The brothers reunited the parrot family and stayed with them until Angie got home.
“He screamed at soon as he heard me… Milo immediately asked, ‘Whatcha doin?’ when I opened the cage door.”
Since then Abbey has been spoiling Milo.
“We snuggled a lot, and he had lots of almonds and did all his favorite things: flying from perch to perch in the house, throwing toys out of his cage, and sleeping with one foot up and his feathers fluffed.”
Her Facebook announcement of Milo’s return home had 367 likes in no time. Abbey received calls from worried pet lovers from all over the US. Milo even had people worrying about him from as far away as Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
I asked her if Milo will ever get to go outside again.
“I think we’ll spend outdoor time in a cage, at least for a while. If we ever decide to go out again (because he does love the harness), it will only be with the leash securely tethered to an article of clothing or around my waist. No more trusting myself to hold on.”
Abbey is amazed by all the attention Milo has received and is particularly appreciative of all those neighbors who walked the streets of New Carlisle playing the recording. And, of course, special thanks go to Angie Dillon for the first clue and to her brothers for securing the escaped parrot.
“We are blessed with an awesome community,” Abbey said.