Apollo was elated and ecstatic -- after five months in my house, he was finally free, away from the monotonous life inside a steel bird cage and a noisy life of CNN, You Tube, homemakers chatting on the phone and the constant hum of the fish aquarium filter located near his cage.
How Did it Happen
Foolhardiness, recklessness, failure to pay attention to detail -- you name it -- I was culpable.
A friend was visiting, and he jumped on her shoulder as she walked outside the house. He was enamored by her and her long hair. Then my curious Conure decided to check out what the Real World had in store for him.
Note: Apollo had been going outside with me ever since I adopted him. He would stay faithfully perched on my shoulder, looking around and calling back at nearby birds. We would take walks around the house and even went on a bike ride -- he never flew away.
The first thing to do when your bird flies away is not to panic. Don't run after him, or yell harshly.
Best, is to stay in position and keep your eyes on him.
Apollo circled me then around the house. Then with the help of an upward northerly draft, he began to gently lift up in the sky, freeing himself from the hectic world below him.
Apollo found the tallest tree on the block. A towering American elm that rose above rooftops, 80 feet high. Perched on a swaying branch, Apollo could see all the iconic monuments, the gothic spires of the National Cathedral and all the world he ever wanted to see or imagine.
Humbly, I stayed under the tree, calmly yelling his name, light raindrops running down my face.
I had nothing with me to to talk him down. No objects to throw, no food to lure him down, no net, low charge on my phone, didn't even have proper shoes.
Kids Playing in the Park
Soon, Apollo's distinctive squawk, his bright rainbow colors and my constant calling drew the attention of kids playing in the park. I asked the kids to stay put and keep an eye on the bird. I ran back in the house to grab the following items:
1) His cage with his bed
2) Parrot food
3) His favorite popcorn treats and shelled peanuts
4) His friend: Athena, the Orange cheeked finch
Back on station, we all took turns throwing nuts at him. But perched 60 feet up in the sky, it was difficult to throw peanuts that high up. Apollo just sat and watched and enjoyed all the attention.
"C'mon you can do better than that," he hollered.
Still, I never gave up hope. I wasn't sure that Apollo would be coming home tonight, but I was worried that I would lose him forever.
Back Home for Dinner
My first instinct was to stay put, even camping out all night until he came down. But then after an hour, then two, and with darkness looming, I realized that Apollo just wasn't budging on his own. My friend, Aditya, came to visit me and to see if there was anything he could do. He suggested hanging a large rope over the tree and pulling it to move the branch. I looked up at the gargantuan tree, and didn't feel like falling down today. I loved Apollo, but I wasn't willing to risk injury or even death for him.
We went back in the house for dinner and to brainstorm. I went online thinking a sling shot was what I needed to bring him down.
"But what if you don't miss and hit Apollo dead on?" Aditya asked.
"Yes, a slingshot can be a deadly weapon."
Suddenly inspiration like a lighting bolt. I jumped up from the table, my roast pork and brown rice half eaten, my bottle of Becks, half empty with promises to reunite soon.
I ran up to my room, ransacking anything in my way; dumping dresser drawers on the floor. Where was it? I remember seeing it somewhere and then rejoiced when I found it under my box of miscellaneous sporting goods.
I thanked Aditya for coming and I ran to the huge tree, hearing Apollo squawking more distinctively, more loudly. Deep inside, I knew he was calling his Daddy.
Sadly, I soon realized, I had lost my touch as a deft frisbee thrower. I remembered the long summer days, playing Ultimate Frisbee pick up with high schoolers after church. But that was a while ago, and tragedly I had lost my touch.
Apollo switched from desperation to entertainment. He watched with glee as I tried and tried to get the discus closer to branch. He truly wanted to come down, but he was scared to budge. Then Apollo started to flap his wings frantically, stretching and building his wings to take flight.
Suddenly and with much anticipation, Apollo jumped a branch, then two, then off he went 50 yards away to the row of townhouses to a landscaped Elm in front of someone's house, a dog barking behind the wall.
|Robert and Adrian bring down the Apollo|
This is when two young men walking the neighborhood saw my plight and came to the rescue. At the same time, my roommates came to give a hand, and all of five of us came up with a decisive plan.
Perched up on a swinging branch, looking back amused, enticing, playing hard to get and having a whale of a time.
Robert would climb half way up and grab the branch. Then Adrian and I would nab Apollo. We were armed with a bed sheet and a ventilated clothes bag.
It worked! Robert brought the branch to eye level, but when we jumped on him, Apollo jumped back and flew to a neighboring tree.
This happened again and again, each time Apollo squawking, mocking us.
"You gotta be kidding. You call yourself an athlete? You guys are way too slow for my nimble wings."
|Thanking the Rescuers|
Finally with the last taunting, while Adrian and I watched in amazement, Robert simply climbed up, pulled the branch down and grabbed him with his only free hand.
Apollo was finally rescued! And I thanked our true bird/wildlife heroes from the neighborhood.
Apollo came home, nibbled on some seeds and went straight to bed. He didn't want to share about his experiences or boast about his truly amazing skills of flight and illusion.
Meanwhile, Athena, Apollo's friend welcomed him home.
"Hey, next time you do that, give me a heads up, will ya?"
I wanted to ask him what it was like. How did it feel being free, flying 100 yards up in the sky and gawking at the enigmatic world below him.
Not tonight. Flying around was simply exhausting. He was glad to be home in his cozy bird tent, where it was warm, dry, safe and yes, busy noisy.
Lesson Learned: Am I going to do this again. Not at all. Next time I'll be less foolhardy. I do want to train Apollo and will call the Vet tomorrow to see about clipping his wings. With clipped wings, he can fly straight but not up and down.
And yes, I'm even thinking of getting a mate for Apollo. With a female at home, Apollo would be less likely to fly away, or will he?