Lost bird reunited with owners
The pet of Frank and Kim Alonso of Lombard flew away Thanksgiving morning, got stuck in a handful of trees, was chased by a hawk and braved cold temperatures before being warmed and cared for by a woman from Minneapolis staying at a hotel in Lombard, Illinois and reunited with his owners.
Cockatiels are native to Australia, and Alonso said they don't like weather below 45 degrees. The Friday after Thanksgiving brought blustery and temperatures in the 30s degrees as a cold front settled in.
Tango, who weighs about 3 ounces, flew out a balcony window of the Alsonsos' third-floor condo and was whisked away by the wind.
The couple quickly posted fliers about their missing bird, then mobilized family members to continue searching for him. Tango was spotted in three trees, but the Alonsos, along with Kim's father and sister, could not reign him in, even with a net, a pole, a ladder, duct tape and some of Tango's favorite food.
Then came the hawk.
"When he got chased away by the hawk, that was the last we saw of him," Alonso said. "We didn't know if he was alive or dead."
It was a long Thanksgiving weekend for the Alonsos, whose thoughts turned from hopeful to doubtful as time went by.
"My hopes were on Friday that he had found someplace warm and was OK," said Kim Alonso, also 24. "By Saturday, I thought it would be a miracle if someone found him."
Tango's owners didn't know it, but by Friday afternoon, their bird was somewhere warm, in the care of longtime bird owner Julie Bowman of Minneapolis at the Westin Lombard Yorktown Center.
Bowman said she entered the hotel lobby and found a group of people crowded around a small, weary cockatiel.
Hotel staff members told her the bird had been found in the parking lot. When they realized Bowman knew how to care for such an animal, she said they let her keep the cockatiel, and offered a box, a cup for water, a hangar to serve as a perch and any other help she might need.
It took almost two hours before Tango perked up from his nearly frozen state, Bowman said.
"I held him against my chest and tried to warm him up," she said. "He did not want to leave the side of a human. I don't think he wanted to leave home."
Once Tango warmed up, Bowman brought him along to the science fiction convention she was attending at the hotel. She explained the story of the lost bird to everyone she met until one account helped connect the dots.
A woman Bowman met in an elevator had seen one of the fliers the Alonsos posted. She dialed the couple's number and gave them a rush of relief.
"If she hadn't pieced it together, he would have been safe but living in Minneapolis," Frank said.
Critical thinking challenge: Frank and Kim Alonso tried many ways to get their bird back. What helped the most?
Define these words: mobilized, weary
- Posted on December 14, 2012
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