Saturday, October 24, 2015

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

Those of us who have experienced Goffin's Cockatoo parrots in our lives appreciate the irony of this photo, showing Dino, the Houdini of Brookline, Robert F. Kennedy's childhood home, surrounded by two of Boston's Finest.

Dino became an Internet sensation after he took flight this summer from his Brookline apartment and taunted his would-be rescuers by refusing to be rescued. One of the best things his people said of the escape artist was; “He’s a troubled bird.” No surprise to us Goffin's people. “This bird has an extraordinarily annoying screech,” said Nancy Gertner, a retired federal judge and a senior lecturer at Harvard Law School. Yep.

Instead of letting himself be rescued he relocated to one of Brookline's toniest streets, where he got to work terrorizing the residents. Without local historic preservation commission approval, Dino started remodeling the historic structures. The embattled Bostonians fought back as best they could. One tried turning on the house alarm, letting it blare. Dino didn’t mind, and recently greeted a Gertner houseguest by shrieking outside the bedroom window at dawn. Classic Dino. Some neighbors, the retired federal judge said, are worried that Dino, a Goffin’s cockatoo native to Indonesia, wouldn't survive the winter outside. “Candidly, we are no longer concerned about that,” Gertner said.

The battle lines were drawn. On one side the Catch Dino crowd led by the retired federal judge and the parrot's owner, Shawna Payne. On the other side, the Free Dino camp led by Tai Ta who has taken it upon himself to feed the parrot three squares a day. “This guy parrot has declared his independence,” Ta said, “with his own life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Attempts to capture Dino were complicated by the competing motives of various would-be rescuers.“They all want the glory,” said a woman named Jude, a self-described “bird person” who devoted the better part of the last week to trying to trap Dino. What with plots, cross plots and mis-plots, as well as Boston Animal Rescue League and police interventions, Dino's crime spree eventually ended.

This story should serve as a cautionary tale for anyone wanting to own a Goffin's cockatoo. Dino is back home with his flock of six other parrots and probably sharing some great bedtime stories of his life on the lam with his mates. And we are reminded how Goffin's cockatoos were once best described as juvenile delinquents that should come with warning labels.

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