Miniature Parrot Missing From East Village Apartment

By Serena Solomon on September 14, 2012 7:19am 

EAST VILLAGE — A tiny parrot has taken flight from his East Village perch, leaving its owner frantically searching for the feathered companion.

Ephraim, a rare yellow and speckled blue parrotlet, was a common sight on the shoulders of owner Alex Lees until he escaped from Lees' apartment on East 11th and Third Avenue Sunday.

Lees has blanketed the neighborhood with posters and taken calls from local residents who claim to have seen Ephraim.

He remains hopeful his fist-sized friend will return home.

"I am mostly relying on the kindness of other people," said Lees, a 31-year-old attorney who has lived in the East Village for five years.

Lees said parrots lack a dog’s ability to navigate by smell or the directional instinct of ducks and geese.

"Really he guides himself by sight," he said, adding that Ephraim would have a limited memory of the outside of the East 11th Street building.

Lees advised that anyone who spots the parrotlet should approach him slowly, put their figure right next to its claws and say the command "Step up."

"He is not easy to grab," Lees said. "He is flighty."

The bird normally eats specialty pellets at home, but has been known to eat all types of human food, including meat, vegetables and bread.

"He just wants to snuggle up next to you, curl up to your neck," Lees added. "When we laugh he laughs."

The bird, which Lees bought five years ago for about $400, is extremely friendly to humans and can mimic speech, laughter and ambient noises.

Ephraim did not stay in a cage and had previously had the freedom to fly around the apartment, Lees said.

He escaped when Lees' fiancée left the house with the parrotlet sitting on her shoulder by accident, he said.

"You can barely tell he is there," Lees said of the lightweight bird. "Normally we check."

Not until the fiancée heard Ephraim's call — a kind of squawking whistle — and watched him fly away did she realize he was gone.

Since, friendly residents have called in sightings — one on a nearby second-story balcony and another on the sidewalk at East 14th Street and Fourth Avenue. However, the bird has not been seen since Monday.

"He flies to the ground to forage for food so it is not unusual to see him on the ground," Lees said.

"Not many people are bird people. They just know cats and dogs," Lees added. "But [birds] can be just as loving and affectionate and just as easy to get attached to."

Any one with information about the parrot can contact Alex Lees on his cell 917-974-7252.

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