Brent Chadwell felt one overwhelming emotion when his wife called to tell him that his beloved bird, Tiki, had flown out of the house — devastated.
“I thought, ‘There’s a 50% chance that something eats him,’ ” Chadwell told McClatchy News.
Chadwell, who lives in Cape Coral, Florida, about 130 miles south of Tampa, had owned Tiki for five years. He started caring for the bird when he was just 4-5 weeks old and still needed to be fed with a dropper.
“He’s super friendly and super sweet,” Chadwell said. “He doesn’t scream, he doesn’t fight. He talks and makes cute little noises all day. He’s really hard to dislike.”
So when his wife called on April 6 to say that Tiki had flown out of the house when she went outside to sweep the deck, he feared for the safety of his sweet bird who’d spent his whole life in captivity.
“He would just walk right up to an alligator and get eaten,” Chadwell said. “He has no concept of, ‘Oh this thing might try to eat me so I have to get away from it.’ He’s only been cuddled or loved.”
Chadwell immediately sprang into action. He walked the streets around his home asking everyone he came across to keep their eye out for a little green bird. He spoke to employees at a nearby golf course and plastered Tiki’s picture all over Facebook and in lost bird groups.
He went out early in the morning before work and late in the evening after he got home to search for Tiki.
Chadwell said he’s loved birds all his life.
Because his mom was allergic to cats and dogs, he always had exotic pets growing up, such as snakes, lizards, chameleons and parrots.
Tiki, a Solomon Eclectus parrot, has brought so much joy to Chadwell’s home, he said. The bird is always talking, saying things like, “Peekaboo,” and imitating noises from around the house, such as the washing machine jingle and cellphone notifications.
“My house just felt so dead and empty without that constant chatter,” he said.
As the days went by, Chadwell became increasingly worried that he would never find Tiki. He hoped that the bird would land in a person’s yard while looking for food and water and someone would notice him.
At around 7 p.m. on April 9 — Easter Sunday — Chadwell got a Facebook message from someone who said Tiki had been found.
“I just immediately started crying because I was so happy,” he said.
Tiki had landed in the backyard of a family having an Easter party not far from Chadwell’s house. A man at the party started hearing “peekaboo” over and over again and thought it was his niece and nephew playing.
“He turned around and saw Tiki sitting there,” Chadwell said.
The man’s sister, who is a vet tech, was able to get Tiki to step on her hand and bring him inside for some food and water. Members of the family went on Facebook to see if they could find any information about a missing bird and got connected with Chadwell through his posts about Tiki.
Chadwell rushed over to the house with a cat carrier.
“He was so happy, he yelled, ‘Peekaboo,’ he pressed his beak into my face,” Chadwell said. “I just told him how happy I was to find him.”
Chadwell said he was extremely grateful to the family that found Tiki and all of the people who helped spread the word on Facebook.
He encouraged anyone who might lose their pet bird not to give up.
“Just walk a lot, especially in the morning and at night,” he said. “Don’t look too far from your house, because a lot of birds are found within a mile of their house. Leave their cage out with their favorite treats in it.”
He also asked anyone that finds a missing bird or pet to do the right thing and help it get back home.
“If you find a bird, please, understand how much it means to its owner and reunite (them),” he said.