By SARA ARTHURS
Jeannie Kirby thought she’d never see her Dolly Girl again.
Her three parakeets were flying around in her garage on Glessner Avenue the morning of April 26 when Dolly Girl slipped out an inadvertently open door. Kirby said Dolly Girl was the quietest of the three and kept to herself. But “she barreled right out that door” and was gone before anyone could stop her.
Dolly Girl the parakeet (technically, a budgie) is about 3 years old. “She knows when you’re talking to her” and will turn her head, Kirby said.
The human members of her flock searched through the neighborhood, playing YouTube videos of parakeets on their phones so Dolly could hear the sound of chirping. They looked in all the trees, and left out food and water. And Kirby put the word out on Facebook.
Meanwhile, Kirby could tell the other two parakeets were missing Dolly. They huddled together, quiet.
Kirby heard some encouraging responses online, and people told her not to give up hope. But then, “It started getting really cold at night.”
She researched online and learned parakeets can’t survive temperatures below 40 degrees. And she cried thinking about the bird out there, “being scared and lonely and not knowing what to do.”
A neighbor called with a report of a found bird, out near Kohl’s. The report said it was a cockatiel that had been found but, the neighbor thought, “maybe they don’t know their birds.” (Cockatiels are larger, and have a crest.)
Kirby got “all excited” but then they sent a picture. It wasn’t Dolly. Kirby said she hoped the cockatiel, too, would find its way safely home.
Meanwhile, 3 miles away, Roger Powell’s wife saw a bird on their County Road 180 property. Powell is the birder of the two, and quickly realized it wasn’t a bird native to Ohio, but an escaped pet. He assumed the bird had just escaped earlier that day, as it was unlikely she’d be able to live outside in the cold temperatures.
Powell tried to whistle to Dolly Girl, who was 6 feet off the ground. As he whistled, “It’s staring at me like, ‘What are you thinking, dude?'”
He got closer, at which point Dolly Girl indicated he was in her space. He tried to get her to jump onto his finger without success. Powell concluded he would have one chance to grab her, and he didn’t like his odds. He figured there was a 10 to 1 chance he’d be able to catch Dolly Girl. And if she flew away, she risked not only the cold, but the possibility of falling prey to hawks or cats.
So, Powell climbed up a little way and grabbed the tree, and successfully nabbed the wayward budgerigar.
“That bird started squawking,” he said.
Powell brought her into the house, only to be met with his wife’s reaction: “What now?”
“We put it into a potato chip box,” he said. Then they called friends and neighbors, one of whom looked for a bird cage.
Powell, too, put a photograph on Facebook, not knowing that “clear on the other side of town,” Kirby was missing her fine feathered family member.
And then, Kirby said, “my phone just starts going crazy” with people messaging her. She and Powell compared pictures and saw that the bird had the same markings. It was Dolly Girl.
The story was soon “flying like crazy” on Facebook, Powell said. “It made people happy. … ‘Oh, Dolly is home.'”
It was Sunday evening. Dolly Girl had been on the lam since Thursday morning. But upon her return from her harrowing ordeal, she seemed just fine. Her health was OK despite the cold, and she didn’t seem starved so, Kirby said, she must have found something to eat.
She was tired, though — Kirby said the bird slept for the first day and a half after her return.
And the pair of other parakeets, who had seemed to miss her so much? They didn’t have any reaction upon her triumphant return.
Kirby speculated that maybe Dolly Girl just “needed a break” from the two males. At any rate, she settled in “just like she never was gone.”