‘Neotropical’ bird has been unlikely fixture in village since July
A Facebook posting on Tuesday, Nov. 21, was welcome news to residents of Sperryville, who since last July have been daily observers of a beautiful green parrot that made the unlikely village its home: “Sperryville parrot is safe and sound. Heading to the vet as soon as we can get her in.”
That good word, plus an accompanying photograph of the rescued parrot, was posted by Sperryville resident Dabney Hammer Kirchman, who added that the neotropical bird was carefully captured by her husband, Paul Kirchman, after she “did the tracking.”
“One lucky bird!” exclaimed Vi Vierling below the posting.
“Nice! Great job! Thank you,” added Laurie Smith.
“How did it get out? asked Charmian Howard Fletcher.
“No one knows,” responded Nita Clewis. “It has been seen for some time now (July) throughout the village. A team of people came together . . . to catch it before winter to try to save it.”
“It’s true,” Dabney weighed in. “There are a lot of people who’ve been cheering this bird on, feeding her and looking out for her welfare.”
In a telephone interview this week, Dabney said she and her husband took the parrot to the veterinarian last Saturday and are now awaiting the results of its examination — including whether the bird is a boy or girl.
Bottom line, the colorful bird — identified as a nanday conure, a mostly green neotropical parrot that is native to South America — “is healthy,” Dabney reports.
“She’s very quiet in the house, which is amazing because she was very loud [when outdoors]. You could hear her all over Sperryville,” she points out.
So how did she and her husband capture the bird?
“What we did was we followed it,” Dabney says. “Parrots, like all birds, roost at night — same time, a place that is safe and cozy, so owls [and other predators] don’t get them.”
The first time the Sperryville couple tracked the parrot was at dusk.
“We followed her around Sperryville, looking like crazy people, going through people’s back yards,” Dabney laughs, until eventually they tracked the bird to the bell tower of Hopewell Baptist Church.
“It went way up in the bell tower, so we called the church caretaker . . . and said, ‘We know this sounds crazy, but there is a parrot in your bell tower.’ And when she figured out that we weren’t completely insane she came and let us in. It was after dark.”
The parrot, it turns out, had safely “tucked itself” into a vent between the interior and exterior walls of the belfry. When a small board was gently pried away in an attempt to reach the bird it flew away.
So the very next day the couple, who actually have other parrots as pets, purchased a ladder from the hardware store and fashioned a homemade parrot-catching net out of a pillowcase and coat hanger. At dusk that evening, they once again successfully tracked the parrot back to the belfry, watching as it flew up over a hill and into the tower. This time, Dabney held the ladder below while Paul climbed up the exterior of the tower, being careful with each step not to damage the church’s stained glass windows.
“We held our breath, it was so high up, and we are thinking is this a good idea?” recalls Dabney.
But this time, fortunately, Paul “held the pillowcase over the vent and the parrot flew right in.”
For now, the rescued parrot with no name is living in a metal cage in the couple’s bedroom. Better yet, it appears to be enjoying its new life.
“She does seem happy,” says Dabney. “She’s cleaning herself, chewing toys, eating well — she loves sweet peppers. Her favorites are mini-peppers . . . . She’s eating the peppers in addition to seeds and health birdie kibble (Harrison’s pellets).”
While colonies of nanday parrots have established self-sustaining populations as far north as Florida, Texas and California, it is highly unlikely that a single parrot living alone could survive a Sperryville winter.