Sasha is missing. Nora Carroll and her family miss him. They want him back.
He took off early last month, slipping out the front door, to a brand of freedom he never tasted. He is not a dog. He is not a cat. Sasha is a handsome 4-year-old parakeet, and into the sweltering July sky he flew, higher and higher.
“Up, up and up,” Nora Carroll told me this morning. “It was a very circular pattern, higher and higher, until my husband couldn’t see him anymore. There was no lid on his life any longer.”
That lid was Carroll’s home in Silver Spring, where Sasha, his wings unclipped, typically gets his daily exercise buzzing around as his best pal Izzy, another parakeet, gives chase. If you have been to Carroll’s house, you know the family is vigilant about keeping doors and windows shut, protecting their birds from danger.
But in a fleeting moment — moving the recycling pile out to the front porch — Sasha slipped away. There have been many dramas in the DC region this summer: a debt ceiling debate, a still-limping economy, the brutal heat. But the Carrolls’ summer drama — and, at times, comedy — has had an unrelenting focus: getting Sasha back.
Carroll has placed several ads on Craigslist, with the most recent one reading: “Our pretty yellow and green parakeet named Sasha flew out the front door on July 1. We live in downtown Silver Spring. Please call if you see him.” They have connected with the surprisingly large lost bird community, especially 911 Parrott Alert, a Web site that bills itself as “an international initiative dedicated to helping reunite lost, stolen and found parrots and birds with their families.”
Birds, the family learned, are often reunited with their owners. A lost conure was “REUNITED with owner on Thursday, June 9th, via facebook listing of the owner’s lost bird flyer. Lots of smiles and tears!” a recent Parrott911 post said.
“It’s obviously easier to get a cat or a dog back in the home, but we know that birds are found and they do come home,” Caroll said.
Neighbors and strangers have called to report possible sightings. Caroll, her husband Bob Lucore, and their two daughters, ages 12 and 16, leap into action, grabbing their cage, their binoculars and their treats. To the rescue! They have visited several back yards and neighborhood bird feeders this summer, studying parakeets they determined were not Sasha. “It’s been kind of comical, this drill we go through to find this darn bird,” Carroll said.
If they have learned anything this summer, it’s this: If people see a parakeet in the wild, it’s probably a pet. Call local authorities or a shelter.
Meanwhile, the family is struggling with a difficult question: How long should they keep looking?
In their hearts, they’d like to reunite Sasha with Izzy, who has grown quiet around the house. “It’s hard not to transpose human emotions onto the bird, but we think he’s lonely,” Carroll said. “He’s quieter because he’s not competing with Sasha for attention. I don’t know if he experiences loneliness, but I think he knows something is different.”
In the summer months, Caroll thinks Sasha is capable of surviving a while on his own, and she hopes he is coping by hanging out with other lost parakeets. “We’ve heard they can survive out there for weeks or months,” Carroll said. “His biggest obstacle will be not falling prey to some bigger bird or cat.”
But the family is also realistic. Every day that goes by is another day Sasha might drift further from home, pushed away by a stiff breeze or a sense of adventure about his great big new world. They have had family meetings to discuss placing more ads and even whether they should talk to me.
“We are close to acceptance of the loss,” Carroll said. “We’re not quite there yet and we are retaining some glimmer of hope. I hope we find him.”