Local News

Tropical bird's return brightens day for Wilson man

Posted February 22, 2019 4:36 a.m. EST
Updated February 22, 2019 1:28 p.m. EST

— Lewis "Buddy" Waskey had been heartsick for days because his beloved bird had disappeared.

But on Thursday, as he looked around for Zazu, a green-winged macaw, things began to look up.

After 72 hours on the loose, the colorful, two-year-old tropical bird turned up unharmed in a neighborhood that was two miles from his home.

"I got about four phone calls in about five minutes," Waskey said as he held Zazu on his hand.

Waskey had allowed Zazu and another parrot to fly around his home, which is near Banana Loop and U.S. Highway 117.

"Free-flying is real unique for parrot owners," he said. "Most of them don't do it. "

The birds generally stay close to home and return without incident, but this time both birds vanished.

"The next day about noon, Shyler came back without his flying buddy," Waskey said.

He printed flyers and offered a $5,000 reward for anyone who could find the brightly colored parrot.

As for what made Zazu fly the coop is anyone's guess.

"Maybe it got chased by a hawk or maybe a whole bunch of geese flew over," Waskey said.

He said he wasn't all that concerned about the North Carolina cold because macaws live in mountainous areas and can handle frigid air.

"People have visions of of Jimmy Buffett sitting on the beach with the birds," he said. "But they go into the higher altitude areas."

Finally, at around noon Thursday, Waskey received the call that Zazu had been found in a subdivision.

The residents who spotted the bird declined the $5,000 reward, and Waskey said he would give the funds to charity.

Perched on his owner's arm, Zazu gave Waskey kisses with his beak. He plans to keep Zazu free-flying.