Friday, June 1, 2007

2005 and the worst day (so far) of our lives

In June 2005, we moved into a different house and were just starting to meet the neighbors. One of them asked me if I would bring my parrots outside so he could meet them. Now, Thomas and I had a rule that the parrots were never allowed outside unless they were in their harness or in a secure carrying cage and closely monitored because of the risks. They could be snatched by a predator, or a gust of wind could take them away, even though their wings were trimmed.

However, I wanted to be a good neighbor and decided to take Max out for less than a minute so he could see her. I had been running for well over an hour that morning and knew there was no wind. And if something spooked her, she would fly and land in a yard across the way where I could easily scoop her up, right?

As you might imagine, things didn't turn out the way I expected. At 8:00 am on Thursday July 28, 2005, a gust of wind carried Max over the roofs of the houses across the street and out of my sight. I followed her trajectory, but lost sight of her. I called Thomas at work and he came home to help look. We looked nonstop until 10:00 pm, calling her name. Friends came over to help, including someone with a dog to try to sniff her out. We gave posters to everyone in the neighborhood and placed a lost ad in the paper. We spent a sleepless night and were back out looking for her at 4:00 am Friday morning (we had read that they are more active at dawn and dusk). We looked for several hours, then I went to work to get a few things done, but I was crying and came home after Thomas called and said he couldn't be alone right now. We resumed our search.

We called and whistled for her, but didn't hear any response. How far could she have gotten? Did someone find her? Was she eaten by someone's cat? We decided to take Calypso out in his carrier to help us look. They always enjoyed whistling back and forth to each other and maybe she would respond to him. Around 6:00 pm on Friday, about 34 hours after she went missing, she responded to Calypso's call. Unsure of whether the noise was made by her, something else, or just in our imaginations, Thomas headed into chest-high weeds searching for Max. He heard a rustling and thumping. Still unsure of what he would find (the weeds were VERY thick), he pounced on the creature and it was Max!

This was the happiest moment of our lives! Thomas clasped her to his chest. She looked up at him, said "I love you," and we ran her back to the house. She eagerly ate and drank, and surprisingly was no worse for wear.

I like to think that things happen for a reason, and perhaps I had to go through this so I could tell my story to others. Even if your bird's wings are clipped, he can fly. Even if he never has before. A little wind and adrenaline can take them MUCH farther than you'd imagine. Max was found over 1/4 mile from our house, very close to a pond. We are so lucky that we found her. Many people are not so lucky.

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