On Friday, April 10 2015, everything seemed normal. Tao was out grocery shopping and I gave Diamond his dinner. He acted normal and content, sitting on his deck (pictured above). I expected Tao to be home soon so I stayed downstairs, putting away dishes and other small chores.
When I heard her coming, I watched by the door and when she got right onto the porch I opened the front door. Diamond took off, and bolted out the door. He was not trying to reach Tao, but flew over her head and to one side, full speed ahead. I was in shock, not believing what I just saw so quickly.
That is simply not like him. He doesn’t boldly explore new places, even within the house. He sticks to a few favored places and is shy about being somewhere else with me, and never on his own initiative.
I expected he must be very close to the front of the house, as when he’s scared he will just grab on, hold still, and stay quiet. The loud lawn machines across the street would scare him, and I expected to find him in the trees or landscaping directly in our front yard. Shock turned to worry when a broader search did not find him.
After dark, I knew Diamond would not be active at all but needs to roost. Parrots don’t have good night vision and can’t get around in the dark. We decided to make some fliers, so I quickly put something together in Photoshop and took it to a nearby FedEx Office store for printing in bulk, before the closed at 9PM.
We left a few fliers at houses immediately surrounding ours, and I went a few blocks perpendicular to our street as well. It was at this time that I met some neighbors: one person a few doors down the block, and a family hanging out on the driveway behind the alley, and a man next door to that. The whole time up to that point, nobody was visible on the street except for lawn-care professions (who would not stop using the scary leaf blower, BTW), and even knocking on doors I found nobody home to answer.
Tao posted on Craig’s List, which turned out to be useful (I think).
Early in the morning, as birds were just getting up and becoming active, I went out to distribute fliers. Since the binoculars were broken, I took a telephoto lens on my camera, which I thought a good idea anyway since I might examine a photo more carefully when I could not make out details though a shaky live view.
I also set out a portable speaker in the back yard, playing Tao’s voice in a loop. If he can’t tell which house is his because he doesn’t know it from the outside, he might hear a familiar and distinctive sound and come that way.
Tao also distributed fliers, in a different direction. I printed out a map to mark our routes and keep track of what’s been covered.
I set out a plastic milk crate that he finds irresistible and just has to perch on and investigate. I put it on the grill counter, near the back door, which is too close for wild birds but is an area he watches with great interest from his window. I added to that a small stainless-steel bowl of nuts. Again, shiny metal is something wild birds would be fearful of, but to Diamond that’s where food is found. (It had not been taken by wild birds, so I suppose that’s right).
Tao passed out more fliers in the early morning before going in to work. She has different hours on different days and Monday is a “later” morning.
I got a call from someone who found a flier that day reporting that he heard a parrot the previous afternoon.
That gave me renewed hope. I used the last of the fliers in that area, at the same time of day. It is common for him to call for a while in the late afternoon before evening, as do some wild birds. So I tried to find his voice when that afternoon’s Social Chorus started.
I saved 3 fliers in reserve.
When I got photos, it was unmistakable that Diamond was alive and doing OK, just a couple hours ago. I heard that he was seen at this building from about 5:00PM, and that he had approached a woman in brown scrubs who met a kid. Now it’s both exciting and frustrating, as the family who witnessed that interaction thought to look for Lost Pets online while waiting for the dentist, and did find my flier. The people who saw Diamond and also found me did not know the people Diamond approached did not find me.
I went to the building and looked around, and left the last of the fliers where hopefully it make a connection the following day. Most of the offices were already closed.
Early in the morning, we went out to that building again. Looking around, I saw that there were numerous trees on the property, an open underground parking area, and the lot was adjacent to parkland featuring a creek. The Google satellite view like I saw on my phone is shown below, with the red dot marked where the photo above was taken.
So, it’s a nice place for birds, as far as suburbs in this climate go. I looked around, hoping I would find him still in the area, but also hoping I wouldn’t because he went home with someone. I hoped this was it, because we were expecting severe weather starting in the afternoon.
When people started arriving, Tao asked them if they knew anything. At last, we found someone who identified the woman in the brown scrubs, and had seen Diamond still riding her shoulder as she came back into the building. She called her, and related that Diamond was not with her after all, but a different family was going to try to take him in. She didn’t know who that was, but knew which office they were at.
The office in question opened at 9:00AM, so we waited until the proprietor came in. He called the people who we knew intended to take in Diamond, and it went straight to voice mail.
Finally we heard back, and learned that Diamond went home with them and spent the night safe. The only thing remaining was to go there and pick him up.
Tao and I had driven separately so she could go directly to work later. Just to make things more exciting, my phone navigation was not working well: it kept losing the GPS signal and the program would lock up for several seconds at a time. It would show me behind the actual position and possibly in the wrong orientation, so I kept missing turns.
Tao had arrived ahead of me, and when I got there Diamond was sitting quietly on her shoulder.
Home at Last
So, Diamond spent 4 days and 4 nights in the rough, wild suburbs, and one night at a nice Roost and Breakfast. I suppose people started spotting him and taking photos all of a sudden because that’s when he wanted to be found. He spent an hour in public watching people enter and leave the building, before approaching someone. He must have been considering who looked friendly, having to decide before it got late.
He seems find, just tired and hungry. The slow and careful movements make me sympathize with being sore from overdoing it. He also looks a bit unkempt, with his feathers seeming a bit frayed at the ends. Besides fluffing up more for warmth, he didn’t have the time to keep himself groomed in his normal fastidious manner. In addition to the dirt on his left coverts (slightly visible in this web-quality photo), the ends of his primaries and rectricies (tail) appear a little frayed.
On the earlier photo at the top of this page, you can see that when his wings are folded, the tips of his primary flight features tough the tip of his tail features. Both are iridescent indigo in the light from the photo flash.
The chatter in the local lost pets Facebook group is that Brandon (the kid who befriended him) should get the reward. I still need to talk to everyone involved and flesh out the details, but look for a subsequent blog post in the pets category for more.