Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966


Parrot in peril: Neighbor nudges macaw to safety


A large, tropical parrot spooked 70 feet up a cottonwood tree was retrieved when a neighbor scaled an adjacent spruce and coaxed it from its perch early Monday.

It was a rough Sunday night for Midas, a pet macaw.

The green-headed, blue and gold bird was on a deck at the Cemetery Hill home of pet-sitter Kimberle Whittaker, who lets him out when temperatures warm up over 50 degrees. Whittaker and friend Rick Mapes were outside Sunday afternoon when Midas bit Whittaker’s hand and wouldn’t let go.

“I flung him off and he just winged right across to that tree. He was looking for a place to land,” she said. “Then he was just sitting there like, ‘Wow, how’d I get up here?’”

Whittaker said she called the fire department inquiring about a high ladder, but hung up when she was asked questions including her date of birth. Despite efforts to encourage the bird to come down, Midas didn’t budge.

Neighbor Will Prisciandaro was doing yard work Sunday when he discovered the bird high on a branch beside his home. Prisciandaro’s partner Penny Fossman heard cawing, and thought the noise was coming from one of their family’s chickens that Midas has learned to mimic.

Typically, “he caws back and forth to the chickens,” she said. He likes to impersonate the hen.

The sight of the colorful bird, that measures more than two feet from head to tail, “was kind of weird,” Prisciandaro said.

“We were all sitting there looking at a blue bird in the tree and were like, ‘How do we get him?’” Whittaker said. Midas was still cawing at 10:30 p.m. Sunday.

On Monday morning, Prisciandaro used a ladder and hunting tree stand to climb the neighboring tree and reached toward Midas with a long stick.

The parrot flew down, landing on another neighbor’s metal roof. Apparently unable to hang on, it slid off onto the ground.

“It was hilarious. It was great fun,” said Whittaker, who has been caring for the bird for about eight months. Midas’ owner is resident Hal Matthews, who works at a mine.

Mapes scooped up Midas, who was breathing heavily.

“He was panting like a dog trying to find a water barrel,” Whittaker said.

Upon his return inside the house, the 28-year-old bird stuck his head in his wings and went to sleep. He was cold, thirsty, and hungry, Whittaker said. Also, his wings apparently need to be clipped again, she said.

Whittaker said Midas typically doesn’t bite. He lives with three dogs and has a vocabulary that includes “Want some?” “Kitty, Kitty,” and “Midas.”

He wants to be included in every conversation, Whittaker said. Midas also sings camp songs and enjoys bath time. “He digs a shower,” said Whittaker, who bathes him in the bath tub. Afterwards, she blow dries his feathers.

On Monday, Whittaker was grateful for Prisciandaro’s help. “What good neighbors. I love my neighbors, dude.”