A feather in his cap

A Vancouver man's trip to the emergency room with a pecked finger leads to the reunion of a Portland woman with her missing cockatiel

By Tom Vogt, Columbian science, military & history reporter

Published:

 

FOR HELP

• People who lose (or find) birds can contact the regional rescue network at its website or call 360-247-3626 (360-BIRDMAN).

Sometimes birds of a feather flock together.

Sometimes they're linked by a series of misadventures that include two wayward birds and a trip to the emergency room. That's how Chris Driggins and a temperamental cockatoo helped reunite Kimberly Anchell with her flyaway cockatiel.

Driggins, who runs Northwest Bird Rescue in Vancouver, tried to give a dose of medicine to an umbrella cockatoo last week, and the bird balked. Einstein took a swipe at Driggins' right hand, and the cockatoo's beak peeled back a fingernail.

"It was a total accident," said Driggins, who also answers to "Birdman."

After finishing his chores, Driggins wound up going to the emergency department at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center.

That's where Anchell works as a physician assistant. She was near the end of her shift when Driggins came in.

"Chris had a pretty good laceration, but it didn't take any stitching," she said. "I removed half of the nail that was hanging there."

Anchell asked how he got hurt; Driggins told her about his rescue operation and bird sanctuary.

"I told him my tale of woe about my lost cockatiel," Anchell said.

That would be George, a normal gray cockatiel who took off about a month ago when Anchell's family was having dinner on the deck of their west Portland home.

"Our pet cockatoo was in the house, but not in his cage," Anchell said as she provided some background this week.

"In just a split second, our son went into the house, and the bird flew out to join us. Then, he flew across the street" and onto a tree branch.

"We tried for 24 hours to get him to come down. He ultimately flew off," Anchell said. "That was the last week in September."

The Anchells were afraid George was gone for good.

After hearing Anchell's story in the emergency department, Driggins considered something he'd just learned from a Portland colleague.

"We do bird rescues together," said Eartha Green. (That is her actual name, she said, after having it legally changed.)

"Some guy found a parakeet and didn't want to keep it. He contacted Chris."

Since she lives in Portland, "Chris asked me if I could get it."

When she arrived at the fourplex, Green had trouble finding the unit for Josh, the guy with the lost bird.

"I knocked on a door and a woman said a guy down at the end just found a bird," she said.

It wasn't the address Green was looking for. After she finally found Josh and picked up the parakeet, she wondered about that other bird. So Green knocked on that door, told the people she does bird rescues, and explained what she'd just heard from their neighbor.

"They found a cockatiel. I told Chris that two people had found birds in the same area," Green said. "Such a total coincidence."

After his conversation with Anchell, Driggins phoned Green from the hospital and got a few more details. The time elements matched up, and so did the location. The family with the cockatiel lived about a mile from the Anchells' home.

On Saturday, Anchell knocked on their door. She was greeted by a young girl and her grandmother, who didn't speak English.

And someone else was there to greet her.

"They had George. They found him on a tree limb. They were quite gracious," Anchell said. "We got him back."

It took quite a sequence of events to create the reunion, Anchell noted, including her own work schedule.

"Thirty minutes later, I'd have been off shift," she said.

For his part, Driggins picked the right time to get bitten. Birdman isn't showing up at the ER as often as he used to, he told Anchell.

"I told her I used to be here on a monthly basis," Driggins said. "I've gotten better at this."