SALISBURY BEACH — A weekly birdwatching outing took a surprise turn yesterday when the group stumbled upon a misguided cockatiel resting in a tree at Salisbury Beach State Reservation.
Dave Weaver, who was leading his regular Wednesday morning birding trip for Mass Audubon’s Joppa Flats Education Center in Newburyport, said he was alerted to the colorful, tropical bird by another birdwatcher who was peering up at it with a “humongous lens.”
The fellow birder had no idea what he had discovered, Weaver said.
But Weaver certainly did.
Sure enough, it was a cockatiel. Native to Austrialia, the cockatiel is a member of the parrot family and one of the most popular pet birds in the United States.
Although their colors vary, this pretty little feathered friend is typically white, with a yellow top tuft and pink cheeks. Weaver said the Salisbury visitor boasted a long tail, and with it, he estimated the bird measured about 14 inches in size.
“He was in a tree and vocalizing a bit, preening,” Weaver said. “He looked in pretty good shape.”
Salisbury police dispatcher Kristine Harrison said she started getting calls reporting the wayward bird about 8:30 a.m., with three calls ultimately coming in.
She quickly relayed the unusual sighting to Mike Magnifico, field operation team leader for Salisbury Beach State Reservation.
“She said, ‘I got a good one for you,’” Magnifico said, laughing. “She said there was a cockatoo up a tree in the reservation. It was actually a cockatiel. Boy, what a beautiful bird.”
After getting the call, Magnifico took off from reservation headquarters with Allison Bishop. Before long, they saw a number of people standing, looking up into the branches of a tree.
“I knew that had to be it,” Magnifico said.
Realizing the bird that usually resides in a cage in a warm home didn’t belong along the chilly shores of the Atlantic, Magnifico climbed about 30 feet up the tree, hoping to coax the cockatiel to him by offering it some food.