Search continues for missing bird
August 18, 2006
Murphy’s been missing since July 26, but the African gray parrot’s owners still hope she will come home to roost.Kirk Brunswold and Tammie Lane adopted the parrot from the Gabriel Foundation, a parrot-rescue group formerly based in the Roaring Fork Valley.Since Murphy literally flew the coop, Brunswold and Lane have enlisted friends to help search for the bird, walking around the area and whistling Murphy’s special whistle. They’ve also peppered the area with “missing” posters in hopes that someone who’s seen her will contact them.”We feel like our best chance of catching her is if someone sees her and calls us right away, and we get out there,” Brunswold said.
Brunswold said he thinks Murphy will come to him if called – or whistled to. Murphy and Brunswold have a whistling rapport. Although the bird is friendly to humans, Brunswold said it’s possible she might bite, so it would be better if anyone who spots the bird calls him.”We need someone to see her and call us right away,” he said.Brunswold said Murphy is easily identifiable. She’s about the size of a magpie, but she doesn’t have the long tail. Her tail is bright red, though, in contrast to her gray body, making her easy to spot.”With that gray body and that red tail, she’s pretty unusual,” he said.A lot of people might think that because it’s been several weeks, the bird is probably long gone. But Brunswold and Lane have received several calls from people who think they’ve seen her, most recently in the Starwood area.”Birds are pretty adaptable and pretty smart,” Brunswold said. “It’s very possible she’s making it on her own.”He was a little concerned about Murphy’s diet, but Brunswold said birds are made to live outdoors. The couple has never clipped her wings, and until winter, Brunswold said they have high hopes they can recapture the bird if someone calls them as soon as they see her.
“She’s built to be outside,” he said. “So assuming a predator doesn’t get her – it’s really scary for us for her to be out there, but it’s certainly possible that she’s fine.”The coming winter poses a problem, though, because, Brunswold said, “they are adaptable, and there are stories of them making it … but she isn’t built for that.”Losing Murphy is like losing a member of the family, he said.Every day, Brunswold would do his morning stretches, and Murphy would join him with her own yawning voice, “an endearing sound that she makes that she’s happy to see you,” he said.The couple treated Murphy to a special fruit and vegetable breakfast each day, even heating some of the vegetable for her.Murphy shared a cage with a yellow-collared macaw named MacArthur, and the pair engaged in seeming conversation with their owners.MacArthur regularly greeted the couple with a hearty “good morning,” and Brunswold said that Murphy often laughed with them over a joke.”If you do a fake laugh, they won’t go for it,” Brunswold said. But a genuine laugh on the humans’ part will elicit laughter from the birds.
“It’s really been hard for us to lose her,” he said. “They’re as much a part of the family as a dog would be, except that they actually talk to you.”The couple usually keeps the birds’ cage outside, and on the day Murphy escaped, Brunswold was getting something out of the cage and something scared her. She slipped through his legs and out the door, and they haven’t seen her since.But others have. Two days after she escaped, someone reported seeing her in the Smuggler Mountain area and even took a picture of her. Shortly after, she was spotted in the Meadowood area, and the couple focused their search there.Several weeks passed without a sighting, and some doubt crept in, but recently, the couple got a call from someone who lives in Starwood, and they’ve begun searching in that area.They continue to hope that someone will see Murphy and call them right away, giving them the best chance of recovering her. Murphy actually escaped from the Gabriel Foundation once, Brunswold said, but they were able to call her back to them quickly.Murphy likes apples and peanuts, and if someone who spots her wishes to keep her nearby, those foods might help. But even though Brunswold wants his beloved pet to return, he said he doesn’t want to encourage people to handle her themselves, only to call him or his wife.If you spot Murphy – most easily identifiable by her red tail – call Brunswold at 618-4364 or Lane at 925-9213.Abigail Eagye’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org