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July 13, 2009

Bart's Big Adventure

When a family's pet bird flew into a tree, they turned to neighbor Scotlund Haisley for help

Part of an online series profiling staff who volunteer "Off Duty"

  • Escape artist Bart is a 20-year-old Senegal parrot. Amye Gulezian

  • Safe inside again, Bart reflects on his big adventure. Amye Gulezian

Who do you call at 10 o'clock on a Saturday night when your pet parrot escapes from his cage and settles in a neighborhood tree? 

Well, for one Maryland family the answer was obvious: they called friend and neighbor Scotlund Haisley. Haisley, then-senior director of Emergency Services at The Humane Society of the United States, was at home with his family when he received the call for help.

Never "off duty" when it comes to helping an animal in need, Scotlund threw on his rescue uniform and headed to the Takoma Park Volunteer Fire Department to enlist the aid of the fire chief and crew in gaining access to the high-flying escapee...

[Editor's Note: The rest of this true story was written by Amye Gulezian, the 12-year-old daughter of Bart the parrot’s guardians, and is told from the unique perspective of Bart himself.]

My name is Bart. I’m a 20-year-old Senegal parrot and have lived on Boyd Avenue for about 15 years. I love my bearded man named Mark and his son, but I’m not too sure about Mark’s wife or his daughter, and I sharpen my beak if they get too close to me.

To get to the point, I want to tell you about my interesting excursion a few nights ago. I was sitting in my comfortable cage when Mark decided to take me out in the nice weather and clean my cage. There I was, sitting on the porch railing, just looking around… and I didn’t mean to fly, it just happened. I’m not really sure how—I’ve hardly ever left the safety and comfort of my own home.

But there I was, across the street on the highest branch of a tree, with Mark and this neighbor lady staring up at me. Cars were zooming by down below—that kinda freaked me out at first. Then I saw Mark’s wife and daughter coming up the drive. They kept calling me to come down, but I was just waiting for someone to come and get me, like they always do.

It was getting dark when I saw a man come by and talk to them. He left, and a few minutes later he came back followed by a big red truck. Then, he talked to the truck men a little, and the next thing I know, they’re turning on all these lights and lifting up a huge ladder.

It was a little scary so I stayed very still. I saw Mark and the man talking again. Mark looked happy and the man looked brave, and then he started climbing the ladder towards me.

Now, I’m too scared to move but he held out a stick (just like Mark does when he’s putting me back in my cage), and I stepped onto it. All of a sudden, he grabbed my back, and tucked me close to his chest. Then, he carried me down the ladder. I squealed with delight when I saw my Mark. The strange man put me down—safe, in my comfortable cage.

Thanks again,
Bart

P.S. I just want to say thank you to the fire department and to Scotlund for coming out late at night to save me. I was getting hungry.

Did You Know?

Parrots make up 70 percent of the estimated 40-50 million birds kept as pets in the U.S. These intelligent animals present unique challenges for caretakers and bird rescue groups.

Learn more about Pet Birds»

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