Coach rescues parakeets

Birds perched on school fence safely captured

Two birds were spotted on the back fence of the schools athletic fields.

Megan Berry

Two birds were spotted on the back fence of the school’s athletic fields.

Ethan Smale, Editor in Chief

What began as an ordinary cross country practice quickly turned into a mission for coach Megan Berry. While measuring out a route for a workout, Berry spotted a pair of parakeets sitting on the ground, between the baseball dugout and the back fence behind the school.

“They startled me at first because they abruptly flew up in the air in front of me when I rounded the corner, and it was such an unexpected find,” Berry said. “They landed on the fence right next to me and didn’t seem very scared of me at all. I knew right away that they were tropical birds and most likely someone’s pets who were either released or had escaped. They looked out of place.”

The following day, after her team completed their workout, Berry asked if anyone happened to see two vibrant birds, although she assumed they were most likely gone.

“Actually,” sophomore Blake Jahn told Berry, “I did see a yellow bird back there on one of the reps.”

Berry ran back to the fence and found the pair sitting there.

“I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “At that point, I knew I had to try to save them.”

On her way home, Berry called former student Julia Peltier.

“I am good friends with her mother as well, and they own several birds and she’s very good with handling them,” Berry said. “I called her on my way home to see if they had an extra cage and food and if they were willing to help.”

That night, Berry posted about the birds to local social media groups, in hopes that the owners would know where there birds were. Knowing the parakeets wouldn’t survive on their own, Berry also posted to find advice to capture the domestic birds the next day.

“We played parakeet bird calls on our phones which seemed to attract their attention. It took over two and a half hours, but Julia caught the first one while they were foraging for food on the ground with a butterfly net.”

Berry and Peltier put the bird in the cage immediately.

“The remarkable part was how the other bird kept flying near the cage and communicating with her,” Berry said. “He didn’t want to leave her. He sat on the cage and even touched beaks with her through the bars.”

After many failed attempts to capture the second bird over the next two hours, the sun started to set.

“He flew up high in a tree and stopped chirping back and forth with her. We almost gave up,” Berry said, “but I couldn’t stand the thought of leaving with only one and not the other. I knew the temps that night would be dangerously cold, too.”

Finally, the bird was heard chirping in a different tree.

“We moved the cage closer to the tree, set it on the ground, and put seed around it,” Berry said. “He flew down next to her cage and started eating, and we threw a sheet over it and got him, over two hours after we captured her. Over four hours of total time spent capturing them.”

After four and a half hours of coaxing the birds, cross country coach Megan Berry was finally able to capture the parakeets that had been outside for days. (Megan Berry)

When both birds were reunited in the cage, Berry and Peltier cheered, hugged, and started crying.

“We agreed we were not going to leave,” Berry said, “until we had them both.”

Since the first time Berry posted about the birds on social media, several community members stepped in to help.

“The outpouring of support from the community was remarkable,” Berry said. “Several people stopped by to check on us and help out during the process and many people offered to help on Facebook forums, too.”

Knowing she couldn’t keep the birds, Berry talked to Kee’s Pets in Shelby Township ahead of time, and arranged a drop off.

“I immediately dropped them off right before they closed,” Berry said. “I cried when I dropped them off because I didn’t want to let them go, but I have a cat at home that would have terrorized them. Otherwise, I would’ve kept them.”

Kees had a cage waiting for the parakeets and promised Berry that they would wait several weeks to make sure they were rehabilitated, and promised to keep them as a pair.

“It was imperative that they stay together,” Berry said. “They snuggled close in the car ride to the pet store. I can tell they are an imprinted pair and most likely survived because they were together. I felt so good to save a few bird lives; it was totally worth the time and effort.”