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Missing cockatoo found after report of 'strange bird' in tree

By Cait Orton | Posted - Jun 26th, 2013 @ 8:14am

SALT LAKE CITY — Tracy Aviary's missing cockatoo was found Tuesday after a woman noticed a "strange bird" in her neighborhood.

Matilda, a red-tailed black cockatoo, had been missing since Saturday after she flew away from her trainers. She was startled by a loud construction noise, her trainers said, and was chased by a hawk as she flew away.

The bird is still learning skills, like flying down from trees and coming back to trainers. She's less than a year old and is a show bird, not on exhibit.

Residents in the Liberty Park area set out to search for for the bird. Tracy Avery received a call from Keith Walker, who lives near Foothill Boulevard, around 4 p.m. Tuesday. Walker said his wife, Pam, had noticed an unusual bird in their neighbor's tree.

"Her husband had seen we were missing a bird (and) said, 'I wonder if it's the Aviary bird,' " said Helen DiShaw, curator of the bird program and education. "They called us. We immediately went out there and sure enough it was Matilda."

Her husband had seen we were missing a bird (and) said, 'I wonder if it's the Aviary bird.'

–Helen DiShaw

The tree was in the yard of Ann and Phil Wennhold, a couple who had joined the community effort to find Matilda. They had spent part of Monday looking for her, according to a news release.

Two staff members climbed into the Wennholds' tree and about 8 feet from the ground to reach Matilda. At that point, the cockatoo jumped into DiShaw's arms.

Tracy Aviary says when birds fly away like Matilda did, they usually return to their trainers, though more quickly.

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