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Rico's Story

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Late one Thursday afternoon, I went to the back yard to bring my sun conure Rico in for the night. And that's when the nightmare began. I noticed the door of the cage was open and Rico was gone! I ran around frantically calling out his name "Rico! Rico!". My heart was pounding hard and I could hardly breathe. I knew the chances of him coming home were slim to none since he had never flown outside his room before, let alone flown to me before. He was only a step-up on the finger kind of bird and that was it, but I loved the little fella all the same. After a few minutes I heard his squawk in a distance. I was instantly relieved that he was nearby and that there was still a chance. I took off running towards the woods, tearing threw the briers and thorns like they were fragile webs and each time I tripped on the hard earth, I bounced back up like I had super powers. Not easy for a lady of my size! I know now that it was pure adrenaline. I finally located him high in a pine tree, some 30 ft. up. The wind was blowing and I could tell the little guy was scared to death! Neither one of us knew what to do. He squawked repeatedly and I called his name over and over again. I started to panic. The sun was starting to set and I knew time was of essence. With one big gust of wind, Rico's tired legs finally let loose. He flapped those little out-of-shape wings awkwardly high into the sky until I could no longer see him. I was crushed. I knew that if he was caught in a gust, he would end up miles from our home. I searched the neighborhood in pitch dark with no luck. Back at home I decided to call my mother who is an Alabama falconer to get some advice. She put my mind at easy, telling me that after sunset, most birds perch for the night and don't fly until dawn. Where ever Rico was, I knew that he would stay put and give me some time to come up with a plan. That night, I reviewed our surveillance camera footage which revealed how Rico's cage door was opened. Our new puppy had pawed it open. I couldn't sleep. The thought of Rico out on his own, cold, hungry, and scared tore my heart in two. The next morning I called into work, I told them a "family emergency" happened. They won't understand otherwise. I was up before the sun and started on foot in the direction where Rico disappeared, no shower, no breakfast, and no coat. I couldn't spare any time. People thought I was the crazy neighbor who was walking early in the morning calling out "RICO!" while looking at tree tops. Two blocks away at approximately 7am, I heard his first squawk! I found him perched in the biggest pine tree in North Alabama! From 7am to 7pm I kept a close eye on him. I sat in a grassy area, trying to dodge fire ants and the sun. I could tell Rico needed me there, so I didn't leave until sundown. I said a quick prayer and told him good night. As I walked away, Rico gave one last squawk in the distance as though he were saying "Please don't leave me". It was the saddest thing I had ever heard. I cried all the way home, replaying him over and over in my head. Too heart broken to eat, shower, or even change clothes I fell into bed. Once again I cried myself to sleep. As soon as my alarm went off, I sprung out of bed, again no shower, no breakfast, but did grab a folding chair. This time if I was going to sit all day at least I would be comfortable. As I made my way towards the tree where Rico was last perched, I could hear his morning squawks. I set up camp across the street in a catholic church parking lot where I was and HE was in full view. At noon time I notice a huge bird soring high in the sky. I knew from hawk hunting that this could be Rico's worst nightmare. Hawks most of the time get what they come for...before I knew it, the resident redtail hawk was zooming in on my Rico. I screamed as loud as I could, but the hawk shot down towards Rico like a silver bullet. I closed my eyes and plugged my ears, knowing that Rico would scream as he was being ripped apart like so many of the birds do with my mother's hawk. Looking threw the slits of my closed eyes, I saw the hawk fly away. Not only did the Hawk return, but he came for Rico THREE times!! A nightmare for both of us. Rico was still alive, scared as hell, but ALIVE!!! How did the hawk not kill Rico? Was it because I made a promise to God that if Rico survived I would go to church? What ever it was, my miracle happened. By day three, the local people were curious as to why I had been sitting in one place from sunup to sundown. Many people pulled into the parking lot to ask if I needed help. Heck, one person even brought me lunch! Rico finally made a move that day. I brought out his favorite mashed banana in a ceramic mug. I knew that if he heard the clinking of the spoon on the ceramic mug, he would do something! That brave little bird jumped from the pine tree flew over me and crash landed in a tree located in the parking lot where I sat. I was so excited that he was making an effort to come to me!!! Still high in a tree, I tried to climb this time, but the branches were to far apart. Once again I was powerless, I was exhausted, I was emotionally drained. My mother arrived later in the day with her T perch, which is a perch that extends 20 ft. I knew Rico would be frightened of it and I risked him flying away from it, but I took a chance and left it out for him to get him used to it. Saturday evening came, and once again I went home without Rico. Sunday morning as usual I was out before the sun. Rico was still in the spot where he had been before. I felt like giving up. This is never going to happen, I thought to myself. And that's when Rico flew to the perch and I was able to lower him to me, grab him and shove him up my shirt!!! Just like that! I was in shock for the next couple weeks. The following Sunday, my husband said "Didn't you make a promise to go to church?". " Yeah, maybe next Sunday" I said. And without hesitation Rico flew from his perch to my shoulder and gave one loud squawk!!! It was the first and only time he had ever flown to me. "Guess we're going to church!" We dressed up and headed out to the catholic church where Rico was rescued! I just wanted to tell my story for those of you who have lost a parrot. DON'T GIVE UP!!

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I kept holding my breath through most of the story. Almost forgot to breathe!


Was so happy for you when you were reunited with Rico!


What a rollercoaster of emotions that was- and I was only reading about it! I can't begin to imagine what you were going through!

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