Parrot-lovers patrol icy Edmonton park to rescue brood of budgies

A search party of Edmonton parrot lovers patrolled a north Edmonton park from sun up to sun set Monday after a flock of budgies was found perched out in the cold.

'They ran around like lunatics with nets in the snow'

Bernadette Neumann organized a rescue party after spotting a flock of budgies flying loose in a north Edmonton park. (Bernadette Neumann)

A search party of Edmonton parrot lovers patrolled a north Edmonton park from sun up to to sun down Monday after a flock of budgies was found perching out in the cold.

"The people that came to help me were just awesome," said Bernadette Neumann, who led the impromptu rescue mission.

"They ran around like lunatics with nets in the snow and all got soaking wet and nobody wanted to stop."

Neumann first spotted the birds Monday morning in Klarvatten Park. She would continue searching and trying to capture the birds to bring them out of the cold until 5 p.m.

"I didn't think I would be spending my day doing that, but you can't pass a little bird sitting in a tree like that."

'I heard this peeping'

Neumann​ was returning home from dropping her son off at school when she spotted a woman acting strangely in the park across the street.

With a towel in hand, the woman was circling the trees.

Neumann​, a veterinary technologist, thought maybe an animal had been injured by a passing car and rushed over to lend a hand.

By the time she got to the park, the woman was gone and there was no sign of an injured animal.

"Then I heard this peeping," Neumann​ said. "And I thought, that's an odd sound.

"I look up in the tree and there were seven of these little guys."

The budgies were perched high in the snow-covered tree branches.

"I'm like, 'You're kidding me," Neumann​ said. "It was so cold."

The nine rescued budgies are recovering well after a day spent in frigid temperatures and heavy snow. (Bernadette Neumann)

Neumann​ ran home for supplies and returned to the park with a children's butterfly net, a portable cage that she uses to bring her pet parrot camping, and some bird seed.

"They were really scared. I was only able to catch one." 

A tropical bird native to Australia, budgies are not built for Alberta winters. With more more than a foot of freshly fallen snow on the ground and temperatures hovering around -5 C, Neumann​ knew the birds likely wouldn't survive the night.

They were flying all over, helter skelter.- Bernadette  Neumann

After calling the city and local wildlife agencies, Neumann​ was put in touch with Meika's Safehouse.

The local parrot rescue asked their supporters on Facebook for help, and soon, Neumann​ had some backup.

Her troupe of volunteers soon realized there were at least a dozen of the birds loose in the neighbourhood.

The budgies proved difficult to catch.

"They were flying all over, helter skelter," she said. "We were climbing trees and climbing fences. We were knocking on everyone's door, 'You have budgies in your backyard, can we try to catch them?'"

Heaven-Leigh Adcock was part of the rescue mission. She spent more than two hours searching the neighbourhood before she had to leave for a bird-sitting gig.

"We had one guy named Jake climbing up trees, he ripped his pants open trying to catch them," she said.

"There were two guys with nets who were jumping fences. 

"It was quite interesting, that's for sure."

It's been a hectic day for those guys. - Bernadette  Neumann

Eventually, nine of the birds were captured and brought into the warmth of Neumann's house.

Slightly worse for wear, the birds appear to recovering from their ordeal. 
Bernadette Neumann is unsure how the budgies got loose but fears they were released into the cold on purpose. (Bernadette Neumann)

She plans to bring them to the Edmonton Humane Society on Tuesday. 

"They were so hungry and tired," Neumann​ said on Wednesday night. 

"They went to bed around 6:30 tonight. They were all yawning so we just covered them up and let them sleep and we haven't heard a peep out of them.

"It's been a hectic day for those guys."

Neuman​n is uncertain how the budgies ended up on the loose but fears they were released into the cold on purpose.

She hopes the remaining budgies were able to survive the night, and are found soon.

"We went until the sun had set and we could just not get those other three," Neuman​n said.  "I just feel sick to my stomach. I just pray that people are looking for the birds."

About the Author

Wallis Snowdon


Wallis Snowdon is a digital journalist with CBC Edmonton. She has nearly a decade of experience reporting behind her. Originally from New Brunswick, her journalism career has taken her from Nova Scotia to Fort McMurray. Share your stories with Wallis at wallis.snowdon@cbc.ca