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Tiny Lost Parrot Returned to East Village Owner

By Serena Solomon | September 17, 2012 2:53pm

EAST VILLAGE — Apparently cats are not the only pets with multiple lives. 

Ephraim, a rare parrotlet that took flight from an East Village apartment more than seven days ago, was reunited with its owner Alex Lees on Saturday after a savvy stranger scooped up the yellow and blue speckled bird. Lees had blanketed the neighborhood with posters and taken calls from local residents claiming to have seen Ephraim since Sunday’s great escape.

"He was so pretty and I thought maybe someone would step on him," said Julia Svindie, 53, who salvaged the well-loved missing pet from an East 14th Street sidewalk between Third and Fourth avenues Wednesday afternoon last week.

She suspected the bright yellow bird foraging on the ground had to be someone's beloved pet, she said. "I felt so bad for him."

Initially Svindie, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, attempted to pick up Ephraim with her hands, but he was elusive, and his flighty instincts led him to perch on the roof of a parked car.

In a stroke of genius, Svindie thought to use her scarf, throwing it on Ephraim and catching him.

"Then someone clapped their hands," said Svindie, among the small crowd on the street that had been watching the unusual bird capture.

After taking Ephraim for a vet check and buying a cage to house him, Svindie finally spied one of Lees’ posters on Avenue A requesting the bird's return and called Saturday morning.

"We were pretty close to giving up," said Lees, who has been out every evening with his fiancée adding more posters around areas where people had called in Ephraim sightings.  

The parrotlet recognized his owner instantly, according to Lees, a 31-year-old attorney and East Village resident.

"He was so excited. He was just talking and he talks when he is happy and comfortable," said Lees, who bought the bird five years ago for about $400.

Ephraim talked the whole walk home to the apartment on East 11th Street and Third Avenue, said Lees, reciting phrases the bird had been taught such as "go get it" and "what a weirdo."

Since Ephraim's return, Lees and his fiancée have changed the bird policy in the apartment to ensure an escape like the recent one — in which the bird was a shoulder stowaway as Lees' fiancée left the house  — doesn't happen again.

"We just make sure we can see him [in the apartment] when we close the door," said Lees.

Ephraim's wings have also been slightly clipped, allowing him to still fly around but denying him the lift he once had.