Red-faced bird caught flouting f-lockdown rules

Dio the cockatiel travelled all the way to Essex after escaping from her St Albans home.

Dio the cockatiel travelled all the way to Essex after escaping from her St Albans home. - Credit: Archant

Stay at home was the message but it seems that one pet baby bird didn’t get the memo.

Beloved hand-reared cockatiel Dio left her St Albans owners devastated last week, when she flew out of their balcony door into the windy night.

And they feared the eight-month-old would never be found.

Steve Oldman, of Hillside Road, said: “I made the critical mistake of opening our balcony door. She is so tame and generally terrified of other birds whilst looking out of the window, it had never been a problem.

“Within a second, she was out of the door. My instant reaction was to run down to the street and try to get her attention.

“At this point she was flying above the flats, meeping in fear – then she disappeared and her meeps got quieter.”

Steve and his partner Hannah Gower then spent three hours searching desperately for Dio, whistling and clocking up nearly 20 miles of walking – to no avail.

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They left her cage on the balcony, in the hope she would fly back in to it. But she didn’t.

And as hope faded, they were up at the crack of dawn, scouring the area and putting up posters. They tried to coax Dio back by taking out their other pet cockatiel – Ponyo.

Ponyo is “madly in love with” Dio, so they hoped taking Ponyo to where they thought they’d heard Dio might work.

Later they played cockatiel sounds through a Bluetooth speaker, after reading online that most missing cockatiels are found within a couple of miles from where they escape.

Heartbroken Steve took to Facebook, posting to several local community groups, uploading a video of her kissing her owner on the lips and offering a cash reward for her safe return.

Members of the St Albans online community were saddened by the story and pledged to help bring Dio – who loves to eat toast – home to her increasingly worried family.

But several false sightings later and by the fourth day of Dio being missing, they dreaded the worst.

Steve said: “With the majority of people being at home, kind residents were looking for me in their gardens but with no luck”.

Then on Saturday, they got the post they were longing for. It said that a cockatiel had been found in Essex – 40 miles away.

The bird was safely waiting with a vet and the photograph was identical to Dio.

Steve added: “We immediately called and started to make our way there. It was an hour-long journey and I was driving up there thinking ‘this is no way going to be my bird’.

“But to our delight she had all identical markings and when we got home, she started doing all her usual habits to confirm 100 per cent it was her.

“I know I have broken the lockdown rules but when a pet family member is missing, I’d like to think anybody would have done the same.

“I can’t believe the adventure she’s been on. I really feel we are all truly blessed to still have this beautiful kind-spirited bird.”

She may be happily back in her Hertfordshire home, but when it comes to taking a mini break - it seems Dio’nly way is Essex for this plucky parrot.