Cockatiel on the loose in Huntingburg


HUNTINGBURG — A Huntingburg woman hopes to “bring Tweety home.”

About three weeks ago, the bird with the rosy cheeks, the long tail and the snazzy crest of feathers on its head made its first appearance in Geri Brayton’s yard. It has been a frequent visitor to her Third Street home ever since.

Photo provided

Brayton’s guest is a cockatiel — a parrot that is not native to Indiana, and could perish outdoors with winter coming. Brayton explained that she and her husband, Paul, have tried luring the bird into a chicken cage in an effort to capture it and return it to its rightful owner. As of Monday morning, however, they still had not corralled their elusive, feathered friend.

“I have a couple of bird feeders out, so we get a lot of finch and other cardinals,” Geri said. “Other birds come.”

She continued: “Well, then all of a sudden, I look out one day and here’s this beautiful bird. Just a real pretty bird. And I thought, ‘What the heck?’”

The Braytons are snowbirds themselves, living in Huntingburg during the summer months and Florida during the colder parts of the year. Geri said they aren’t the only ones who have seen the bird, with others reporting sightings in the Huntingburg area.

She knows it’s possible that the cockatiel’s owner let it out intentionally because they didn’t want it, but she’s hopeful its release was an accident. Her research shows the birds cost between $100 and $150 at pet stores. They can live up to 25 years, and are native to Australia.

“We know it’s definitely not a wild bird,” Geri said. “It’s definitely a caged bird type.”

According to Petco, cockatiels are small, crested members of the parrot family that are known for their mellow nature. The company’s website says the birds acclimate well to average household temperatures — not to drop below 65 degrees or to exceed 80 degrees — but advises owners to be cautious of extreme temperature changes.

“So we know it’s not gonna be too adept climatewise,” Geri explained. “Won’t know enough to go south in the winter. I don’t know how it would do on its own in the winter, getting food and doing stuff. Because they’re usually a caged bird. Might get too cold for it.”

There’s also the fear of what hawks, cats or other predators could do to the bird. Geri can get about a foot-and-a-half away from it before it takes off. She hopes this story will reach its owner.

“It’s not human interest, it’s pet interest,” she said with a laugh. The bird is probably someone’s pet, and they probably want it back, she added.

Those wanting to provide information about the cockatiel or claim it can contact Brayton at 941-815-8135.

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