An escaped pet budgie that was rescued from the cold on New Year's Day is now re-adjusting to life in a cage.
Winnipeg bird enthusiast Melanie Shura has taken in the captured bird and is hoping to re-domesticate the budgie they've nicknamed 'MacGyver.'
MacGyver came to her after he was spotted by several residents in the Southland Park area, and a plan was hatched to re-capture him. MacGyver had been living with a flock of sparrows and has since turned wild.
It's estimated that the budgie was loose at least 11 weeks and survived temperatures dipping far below the bird's normal comfort range around 20 C. Shura suspects that the mild winter temperatures were a factor in MacGyver's survival, as well as finding a flock that likely helped him find shelter and food.
Shura, president of Avian Welfare Canada, is now tasked with re-integrating the bird to living indoors and trying to find his owner.
"Finding an owner is going to be quite a challenge," said Shura.
"He is a normal green budgie which is the most common form of budgie. They do tend to look identical."
Shura says she has received calls from at least six people hoping that MacGyver is their lost pet. One of the calls came from as far away as Brandon, Man., but Shura says it's unlikely the bird could have made it that far.
Other calls are from people who lost birds from all areas of the cities, and even one person that lost their bird nearly two years ago.
"When people have a budgie that's escaped, they really, really want this to be their budgie and that's understandable."
Shura is asking people to send lots of photos or even videos of their lost budgie in hopes of trying to find a match. She says while finding MacGyver's family is a priority, she wants people to know that he may not be the same bird that they remember.
"I have to put the needs of the bird first, so right now he's being medically monitored. And we have to see if he's even going to be fit to be a pet budgie again or if he really needs to live with a little flock of budgies with someone who really knows their stuff," she said.
'Out of the snow, but not out of the woods'
Shura plans to have the bird checked out by a veterinarian to determine if MacGyver has any health issues.
She says MacGyver is showing many wild tendencies and may not ever be able to return to being a pet. Not only does he now speak fluent 'sparrow' but he has become accustomed to life in a flock.
"I noticed the next morning that he was panicking in front of his food dish. He was looking at a dish full of food and pacing back and forth. And I realized that he needed the cue from the flock to eat," said Shura.
She says this behavior is not uncommon in birds that come from a flock.
"They depend on flock cues, that's part of their psychology," she said.
Shura used a little help from her other pet birds to show MacGyver it was OK to eat.
Her advice for people who have lost birds is to never give up looking.
"Don't give up on your lost birds. I know all of your hope goes with them but they do tend to show up," she said. Shura also says that many people who have lost birds don't report them so it becomes difficult to track down owners when one is spotted.
To contact Shura about this budgie, or to contribute to the cost of his care, people can email firstname.lastname@example.org.