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Tojita's Story

by Margie Gear
AlexIt all started when my good friend and neighbor came over and knocked insistently on my door.  I knew it had to be important, as he wouldn’t otherwise venture so close to the screaming and squawking that filled my jungle home.   We walked away from the din and along the front yard path.  “My son found a parrot.  It flew onto his back as he bent over in his backyard out in San Rafael.  What should he do with it?  I figured you were the right person to ask.”

When I asked him if he had any details, he handed me his cell phone.  On the other end was his twentysomething son.  In a nutshell, he was well-meaning and utterly uninformed.  He said he thought it was a conure.  He sent me a photo of the bird – indeed, it appeared to be a little green-cheeked conure. He explained that she was “safely” hanging out in his bedroom.  He had no cage or other housing.    When he mentioned that he had a “curious” dog on the other side of the door, my second red flag went off.   I encouraged him to let a nearby Mickaboo volunteer take the bird – I didn’t know who that was at the time, but I knew of a few folks in the area -- but he said that he was fine and would take care of her.   He then announced that he might keep the bird for himself, or give it to a friend visiting from out of state so he could take the bird with him.  I knew this might prove a delicate and difficult situation, and that time was of the essence.

After I emailed an urgent posting to the Mickaboo group, Patty Blau stepped up to help me.   It turned out that the finder lived just blocks from Patty.   I tried to gently persuade the fellow to relinquish the bird to the local Humane Society, without success.  Even advising him that it was actually a legal requirement to (a) keep a found animal in good care for a period of 30 days, (b) surrender it to the local Humane Society if unable to do so, and (c) make “good faith” efforts to locate the owner (including posting found flyers and informing local vet offices, and getting the animal checked for microchipping) didn’t work.   He said he didn’t have time to post flyers. 

At that point, we took matters into our own hands.  With the help of Pat and Bob Bonderud, we created and posted flyers within a few mile radius of the place where the bird was found.   I posted found ads in the local newspaper and  (I did not include any breed or descriptive information – the rightful owner would have to provide that to us.)   Then, we waited and hoped.

I received a number of responses from people desperate to find their lost parrot.  They were heartbreaking.  I only wished this was their bird!

In the meantime, disaster struck.  The guy who found the bird left her with his girlfriend, who had no knowledge about bird care, for an entire week.   One night, the dog got hold of and injured the bird.   To her credit, the girlfriend did the right thing.  She immediately called an emergency vet, determined that they had no one on staff qualified to help, waited until morning and immediately got her to an avian vet.   When she found out that the bird would need daily medication and a watchful eye, she relinquished the bird to Patty - a real blessing for all concerned.  She proved to be a very sweet, friendly and tame little parrot.

Finally, a ray of hope appeared.  Patty received a response from a man who showed her shots of his lost bird: a green-cheeked conure.   It turns out Hymie was a neighbor of the fellow who found him.  In order to be sure that this was his bird, however, Patty put him to the ultimate test: she had Hymie stand in her kitchen as she brought the little conure in to him.  The bird became very excited, and he called to her.  She virtually leapt onto his shoulder and started crawling under his shirt, around and back up again to kiss him on the mouth.  Turns out her name is Tojita.  This big, strapping man began to cry with joy.

Thanks so much to Patty, Pat and Bob for all their dedication and hard work.