Photo by Jon Kile
Sunday night, Birdie, a young scarlet macaw, escaped from his Wood Ibis-area home and took flight, landing on one of Gulfport’s highest rooftops at the west end of 27th Street South.
Birdie’s owner, Kent Johansen, called 911.
“911 called us and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got a bird on a roof’,” Gulfport Fire Chief Jim Marenkovic said. Gulfport’s Engine 17 went to the home and realized they would need a ladder truck to reach the bird, so firefighters called for assistance. The St. Petersburg Fire Rescue sent such a truck.
Mr. Johansen told firefighters Birdie had never before flown. His daughter Milena said her dad was in the backyard with his friends with the macaw when Birdie took his first flight.
“I had the door open and he was in his little basket [inside the cage] and he climbed out, and I was telling him, ‘Jump, jump down on the floor’ and he jumped, but instead he took off flying,” Mr. Johansen said.
Birdie hatched March 27. Macaws fledge at roughly three months old, according to Southern California aviculturist Jerry Jennings. Ms. Johansen said they’d seen signs of Birdie trying out his wings but had yet to see him fly.
“They say, ‘early walker, early flyer’,” Mr. Johansen joked. “I didn’t cut his wings yet because I didn’t know he could fly.”
“We saw him flapping his wings,” she said “but he never went anywhere.”
Three hours after Birdie first took flight, he went willingly with the firefighters. Mr. Johansen said that in all the confusion Sunday night, he neglected to thank the firefighters, “but I was so appreciative of what they did.”
Tuesday afternoon, Birdie stayed on his cage perch in the Johansen’s backyard. He climbed onto Ms. Johansen’s arm and made bird noises at her. She let him snuggle her arm.
“He finally made the leap,” she said.