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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Third Time Trickle Flew Away

For some reason, I just didn’t think Trickle was gone for good this time, even after learning he’d been out in the world for over an hour. I arrived home from work when my husband told me a bird got out while he was bringing in the salt for the softener.  He had the door propped open and Trickle just flew right out. The timing was just weirdly right for this mishap. Trickle had flown up from the basement which happens very rarely. Our daughter had retrieved him on her finger (Remember, he’s the tamest) and was carrying him back to his cage when Bret walked in with two salt bags. This spooked Trickle and he flew right out the open door and through the garage.

Once receiving this news, I dropped my purse and lunch bag on the garage floor and turned around to go right back out. I started walking around the neighborhood and whistling. It was another unusually warm March day that sometimes occurs in the Chicago area. The days were getting longer. The sun was still above the horizon and it seemed every kid in the neighborhood was outdoors contributing to the noise level. My first thought was that Trickle flew to the edge of the neighborhood over the open farm fields to the east. I ventured out a ways before returning to the neighborhood south of our house. I kept walking and whistling, but soon started thinking the bird had flown far, far away and maybe I should just go home and start dinner.

Then it happened. About three blocks from home, I heard a loud, short whistle. I looked to the sky and spotted him flying above the houses as if he’d done it every day. He must have been resting while I was looking because he was so loud I would have surely heard him earlier. I ran toward the area in which he was flying, but it kept changing and I kept running in different directions. People were out and about and I wondered if they were noticing this 40 something year-old woman dressed in jeans and a black vinyl jacket, looking to the sky, running one way and then the other while whistling and calling “Trickle! Trickle!” I put my arm out for him to land on, but he just kept flying and whistling, flying and whistling. I was nobody to that bird. I felt truly ignored as he skimmed the air no closer than about ten feet above my head.

This went on for about twenty minutes. I watched him fly large circles around the neighborhood without ever landing. I was hoping he’d get tired and I could just pick him up off the ground as he rested, but he flew and flew. The whistling stopped as quickly as it began. By this time, several neighbors were looking out for him as I walked around more and whistled more. A half hour went by with no sign of him and I became worried. The sun was setting and it would be a cold night or maybe he’d land in a yard where a dog would pounce on him.
After more silence, he was up again. Thank goodness! He flew far to the west, above the trees along a creek that runs about a hundred or so yards out of the neighborhood. I couldn’t believe it. He looked like he’d been doing this all his life. Since he seemed so sure of himself, it became obvious that he wasn’t going to just fly back to us. I asked the husband to bring Trickle’s cage mate, Weston, out in a cage. I had in mind the little traveling cage we use for vet appointments and such, but soon enough, here comes my husband driving his little Ford Focus with Trickle and Weston’s big cage in the front seat. Unfortunately, Weston wasn’t making a peep (probably traumatized by the abrupt change of scenery) and Trickle was nowhere to be seen.  It was getting colder so I suggested he close the car window for now.         

As he slowly drove off, I heard Trickle whistle in the distance. The husband saw him coming our way and opened the window again. Weston heard Trickle too and replied with a loud whistle. The two birds went back and forth, but Trickle kept flying. We quickly took the cage out of the car and set it on the nearest driveway. As the birds continued to call to each other, Trickle slowly circled above, making smaller and smaller circles until he landed on the winter worn lawn about ten feet from the cage. I crouched a little low and approached him with my hand out. Fighting the urge to just grab him, I instead put my two fingers out for him to climb upon. He stepped right up and then I quickly pulled him to my chest to keep him close.
I was about to open the cage door to deposit him in, but stopped myself. If I opened that door, there was a slight chance that Weston would fly out and then we’d have two birds on the loose.  I chose to hold Trickle close in my cupped hands and began walking home, cutting through a yard or two.  He was quiet and still and I was so very grateful for his return.

Of course, the first thing I did when we got home was trim his wings. He didn’t seem any worse for the wear. He didn’t even look tired. We were all so relieved to have him safe and sound. Darkness overtook the neighborhood just after we got the birds settled at home. We had gotten so very lucky once again. I vowed to be more careful because this absolutely could not happen again.

This is the best photo I could find of a tiel in flight, though it appears to be a model. You can see they have excellent flying capabilites with a long, narrow wingspan and long, pointed tail feathers for good maneuverability, not unlike the flight features of some small falcons.

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