Sandwiches, Bird Bites, and Craigslist

The Texas Story Project.

Tell Jamie Stewart five of her children are ‘just birds,’ and she’ll quip back, “you’re just an idiot.” This woman acknowledges her birds as the intelligent loving creatures they truly are. There’s Dixie, a cinnamon green cheek conure with a spicy personality; Betty, an albino cockatiel that loves to be with Dixie; Ruby, a transgender Wagler’s conure; Baby, a seriously large military macaw; and Marvin, a rare red-throated conure. All these birds are uniquely individual and independent, but only one has ever gotten out: Dixie.

The trouble started on a warm August day, right before school started. Jamie had been enjoying a moment out on the patio. Dixie happened to be downstairs flitting around. It’s important to note that all of Jamie’s birds are flighted, meaning they possess full feathers and can fly. Pet birds of Texas usually have their wings clipped for safety but when you’re a bird expert like Jamie, you know how to keep your birds safe. However sometimes birds are too smart for their own good and take advantage of the ‘perfect storm.’ Dixie noticed the usual netting covering the window was down and used this as her opportunity to escape. She was quick to dart out the window before anybody could react. Like any responsible bird owners, Jamie and her family scoured the neighborhood with Dixie’s cage mate Betty. Betty’s call would work to attract Dixie. “The only problem is Betty wouldn’t sound off,” Jamie recalled in frustration. After searching as much as they could for the night, they hung flyers and took to Craigslist. Not hearing anything, they called it a night, “worried sick to [their] stomachs.”

The next morning, Jamie’s family still hadn’t heard anything. Just down the street however, Dixie figured out something very important. The things wild birds were eating didn’t look remotely appealing. She was accustomed to a certain diet and what she was seeing certainly wouldn’t cut it. But wait! Dixie, perched atop a tree near a church, spotted one unlucky man on his lunch break. It was the perfect solution to hunger. The second he pulled out the sandwich, Dixie swooped down and attacked the man for it. That little girl has a mean bite, and she wanted that sandwich. Luckily, the man recognized this was no regular bird and caught her. They were quick to place her in a box poked with holes and taped shut for protection--whose protection is debatable.

The church community took to craigslist and soon came across Jamie’s post about a missing bird. They contacted the Stewart family with the wonderful news they had located the missing family member. At last, a full 24 hours after she escaped, Dixie was coming home. Jamie raced to the church to reunite with her lost bird as fast as she could. Once there, she proceeded to shower Dixie with kisses while reminding her what a naughty bird she was. To Jamie, Dixie isn’t just a bird, she’s her child. After the harrowing ordeal of missing a child for 24 hours, Dixie never got out again.

Kamille Oliveras is a Mathematics Major at St. Mary’s University. She also has an interest in zoology, specifically ornithology. Kamille plans to become an educator, first in the math field and later with specific regard to animal rescue. Her dream is to have her own bird sanctuary here in San Antonio.

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