The Miracle Bird, by Gary Frisch

010In February of 2009, I got my kids a pet parakeet, which we named Twitter. This was a special bird, and warmed to my family right away.  He was blue, white and grey, very distinctive looking.  His wings had been clipped so he could flap around but couldn’t sustain prolonged flight.  We gave Twitter a lot of freedom to explore our apartment, knowing he’d return to the comfort of his cage soon enough.

On Dec. 27 that year, Twitter escaped from our third floor apartment when my 10-year-old son left the sliding door to our deck open for a few minute.  A family search of the apartment complex yielded nothing.

I posted a “missing bird” sign in the clubhouse, offering a $50 reward, and there was a confirmed sighting of Twitter a couple of days later.  Based on that tip, I spent the next three weeks searching the complex for the elusive blue bird. Despite a hard winter and heavy snowfall, I continued to search.  I even perched his cage with food and treats on top of a bush near where he’d been last seen.

003Given the harsh conditions, I finally came to the conclusion that we’d never see Twitter again. My son, missing the bird and feeling guilty, said he hoped Twitter found someplace good to live. I smiled and lied that I was sure he did.  We moved on and bought another parakeet, a more traditional green and yellow one which was never as sociable as Twitter.

Flash forward to June 29, more than six months later.  Walking to the apartment complex pool, I saw a little Asian girl carrying a birdcage.  I knew this girl because she rode my son’s bus to school, and asked if I could see her bird. I was just being friendly.  Imagine my shock when I saw a blue, white and grey parakeet!  I asked where she got the bird, and she said it flew onto her second floor deck in December.  I said, “This is my bird.”

We walked to her apartment, which was on the other end of the same building I lived in, where I spoke with the girl’s mother.  Her younger brother said if it was my bird, they should return it to me.  I offered them a reward.  The girl asked me a list of questions to confirm that I was, in fact, the rightful owner. Questions like, “Does he talk?” (No)  “Does he let you pet him?” (Yes).  Finally, the kids and their mom walked back to my apartment, where I showed them a photo of Twitter with my daughter hanging on the wall, and introduced them to our replacement bird.  Any doubt was eliminated.

013I’d silently been planning to give them a $20 reward, but the little girl was a shrewd negotiator.  She told me just about every dollar she’d received for her birthday was spent on supplies for the bird.  I almost felt like she was shaking me down.  Eventually, she accepted a $30 reward (ransom?), and let me borrow the cage until I could put the two birds together in a single cage.

A short while later, I called my son at his mom’s house to tell him I had found Twitter.  There was a long silence, then bawling.  He was so happy, and I suspect, relieved and a little vindicated.

I felt like I saw something come back from the dead.  This bird which I had written off in mid-January had been living happily in our building for the previous 6 months, unbeknownst to us.  I’ve since started calling Twitter “Miracle Bird.”

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