The victim squawked and then rolled over and played dead when investigators arrived.
The victim -- Alfred, the $2,500 silver crested cockatoo -- had been abducted from Bailey's Pet Center at Baileys Crossroads on May 21 and was presumed lost until an Arlington resident noticed a poster of the missing bird. She told police that a similar-looking bird had been raising a ruckus at her apartment complex.
Police and pet shop manager Michael Krick went to the apartment Tuesday and said they found Alfred. "Krick held out his finger and the bird hopped on it," said Fairfax police spokesman Warren R. Carmichael.
"Then he set the bird on the floor and ordered the bird to play dead, and the bird flipped over on its back, closed its eyes and stuck its feet up in the air."
Police said that was all they needed. "This was considered sufficient evidence to indicate that this was Mr. Krick's bird," said Carmichael.
The officers arrested the apartment's resident, Buddy James Newlon, 20, of 1160 S. Thomas St., and charged him with grand larceny.
Newlon was released on his own recognizance and could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Alfred was back at his perch at Bailey's Pet Center and next to Peaches the cockatoo.
"I set him down on his perch in Peaches' cage, and all holy hell broke loose," said Krick. "They were screaming and jumping up and down."
Krick said Alfred's disappearance wasn't difficult to explain. The store's bird room is open to visitors and the birds "are tame enough," he said.
"They are accustomed to humans, and Alfred likes 'em. He'll get on your arm and cruise around, and you could just walk right out with him, and he wouldn't peep.
"The back door was open that day, it was hot, and we think a gentleman just walked out the back door with him," Krick said.
It was the second time Alfred had been taken. He was also stolen and recovered in 1979. "This time, I thought we'd lost him for sure," Krick said.
He said Alfred is unlikely to be of much use at Newlon's trial. The bird talks, Krick said, but all he says is "Hi!" and "Cracker!" CAPTION: Picture, Owner Michael Krick is reunited with the long lost Alfred, his $2500 silver crested cockatoo, BY JAMES A. PARCELL -- THE WASHINGTON POST