Friday, June 8, 2012

Macaw Kidnapped

I personally know Mr. Butkovich and his birds as well as the backstory on each one. To him these birds are his life and he takes them everywhere with him. He would stop by the animal hospital to show me pictures of him and the birds and the places they had been together. I especially liked the photo of Buford on a train locomotive. 

These birds mean the world to him and I am posting this story in the hopes that someone may come across Buford, the ruby macaw (as the name infers it is a big red macaw), or at least know some information about what had happened. If you have any information, notify the police or Mr. Butkovich. 

Bowmanville's 'bird man' carries on after a beloved macaw is kidnapped

Longtime pets Sam and Buford were abducted; only Sam escaped

Mary Schmich Buford and Sam were kidnapped last Friday at approximately 5:30 p.m. in the alley behind Nick Butkovich's house.

Butkovich had turned his back to putter with some bridles and sleigh bells — he was getting ready for the neighborhood yard sale — when he heard Buford and Sam scream. He whirled around just in time to see someone — a woman? — hustling them into a black Jeep Cherokee.

Butkovich, who is 65 and heavyset, dashed for his car and went in pursuit. The Jeep vanished.

By the time he got home, his neighbors, some of whom witnessed the crime, had gathered to share his dismay. There, in his despair, he got another shock.

Sam had bitten the kidnapper. The kidnapper let go. Sam fell to the pavement, and though the getaway Jeep had run over his wing, he'd managed to climb back up the wire fence from which he'd been stolen. In the rumpled splendor of his blue macaw feathers, he sat wounded and alone, waiting for his master.

"He's lucky," Butkovich said Thursday.

Under the June sun, Sam again sat with his claws wrapped on top of the backyard fence. His wing still bears the trace of the Jeep's wheel.

"He fell on his back, with his wing open. One inch closer, and he would've been finished."

But Sam's luck was only partial. A week later, and there's still no sign of Buford.

Sam without Buford, and Butkovich without both of his big parrots, is a strange sight in Bowmanville, the quiet North Side neighborhood where the three of them are a popular attraction.

"It's a real tragedy in our neighborhood," says Kristine Behof, who wept when she ran into Butkovich after the abduction. "The children adore those birds. And he treats them like they're his children. He walks them around the neighborhood and lets them say hi to everyone. He's a really nice, gentle man. I can't understand why anybody would want to do this to him."

Butkovich, who once ran a security firm, didn't know much about macaws before a business partner gave him one. That was 19 years ago, and Buford, a ruby macaw, was a little over a year old.

He later inherited Sam, a hyacinth macaw just a year younger than Buford, from the same partner. When Sam was a newborn, Butkovich fed him every four hours, even in the middle of the night.

At 4 months, Sam learned to say, "Nick!"

Butkovich lives on the second floor of his 90-year-old aunt's wood-frame cottage. In the winter, he and his birds stay inside a lot. As soon as the temperature breaks 50, they all come outdoors.

On an average morning, the three of them sit around for a while in the backyard. At some point, they head for the IHOP (Tuesdays and Saturdays) or Pauline's (Wednesdays and Sundays) or the Quick Bite hot dog stand.

Butkovich pushes them around on a stroller outfitted with a water dish and a bowl that holds walnuts and cheese fries.

"When you've got two birds, no way you can carry them both on your shoulder," he said. "They fight for your attention."


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