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The bird was lost in Woodstock -- until neighbors got together to track him down and return him

ELIZABETH USSHER GROFF - Ten year-old George Cowan, a Woodstock resident, is reunited with his four-month-old cockatiel Carl, after the bird accidentally escaped into the neighborhood. When there is a coronavirus pandemic, it may not be necessary to use social media, advertisements, or flier postings to find something that is lost. In the case of a lost cockatiel in the Woodstock neighborhood, the coronavirus stay-at-home community came to the rescue.

George Cowan, a ten-year-old Woodstock resident and a Woodstock Elementary school student, had been yearning for several months for a cockatiel – a bird native to Australia. Then in February, George received a one-month old cockatiel as a prized birthday present.

He named it Carl.

On the day before Mother's Day in May, George emerged from his house with Carl on his arm to ask his mother a question. It was a beautiful day, and George's mother Carey had been sitting on the lawn talking with a neighbor – at a distance, of course, since the pandemic protocols had been clearly set out by that time.

As George went outside, George's father Harley, and his 14 year-old brother Henry, warned George that he should go back into the house so Carl could not fly away. But, remembers George's mom, Carey, "I said it was okay [to stay outside] because I honestly didn't think Carl could fly! He had only flown a few feet in our living room, where we keep him." Suddenly, to George and Carey's surprise, Carl flew up over the neighbors' roof and across the street into another neighbor's backyard. Understandably, George was very upset. "It was probably the scariest moment of my life," remarked George several weeks afterward. Carl was by then a mere four months old.

"Because everyone is home right now [during the pandemic], George and I immediately started going door-to-door, telling neighbors that Carl had flown away, and asking them to call out 'Hi Carl' because that is what he is used to hearing," reported Carey. "Three or four neighbors were looking up and down the street, and then George and I went over to 44th Avenue while Harley and Henry continued contacting neighbors down 43rd Avenue.

"We could hear Carl calling us when we were on 44th Avenue, so we assumed he was nearby, but we couldn't see him. We started knocking on every door, asking if anyone had seen him. Everyone was helping us look, just dropping what they were doing – like cutting the lawn or working in the garden. They started looking in their backyards, and up and down the street.

"Then George saw him perched up on a gutter of a house. Even though we had been asking permission to go into peoples' backyards, at the sight of Carl I grabbed a lawn chair at that house without asking permission, and when I stood on it and stretched out my arm, he stepped onto my hand," smiled Carey. "He's very tame with us, and wants to be with us. He had evidently heard people all over the neighborhood calling 'Hi Carl' [so he stayed in the area]. It was so lucky everyone was at home. They all said, 'Sure, we'll help'. It was kind of a miracle, because we thought we'd never see him again.

"So if it hadn't been for COVID-19, we think we wouldn't have found him!"

There's nothing more cheering than finding a small silver lining to this devastating worldwide pandemic.

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