A high-flying hitchhiker finds her way home with some help from a quick-thinking crew.
Those who work on yachts expect to see a lot of blue: blue skies, blue seas, blue hulls, blue uniforms. But when the mate of M/Y Entrepreneur radioed to crewmates on the bridge, “You guys, come to the stern, and bring your phones!” no one expected the tiny splash of blue that awaited them there.
Perched on the aft deck was a bright blue parakeet — the kind that is usually found in a comfy cage in somebody’s home, not navigating wind currents over the South Florida waterways. The little bird had suddenly landed on board the yacht as it was being towed down the New River. “Yeah, the bird’s been there for, like, three bridges now,” a tow worker told the delighted crew.
Deckhand Ava Zockoll, who worked with birds at the North Florida Wildlife Center while a student at Florida State University, said it was immediately apparent that the little parakeet was somebody’s pet. It flew onto their shoulders and heads, and happily posed for selfies with the crew. “I’ve never met a bird that was just so friendly,” she said.
Zockoll sent a photo to her mother, who began searching through “lost pet” Facebook pages in Fort Lauderdale. Meanwhile, the crew carefully tucked the bird for safekeeping into the head of a guest cabin, where it received the 5-star service expected on a luxury superyacht: room service of the finest seeds, an unlimited fountain of purified water from the faucet, and plenty of attention from staff.
“She was so funny,” Zockoll said. “She just wanted to hang out. She just wanted to sit on your shoulder or on your head.”
Zockoll’s mom quickly found a posting of a lost parakeet that looked just like the bird on the yacht. That led Zockoll to Pete Cameron, who said his family had been searching for their pet, Blueberry, for eight days. The 2-year- old bird had flown out the front door accidentally and got carried away on a windy day, much to the family’s dismay.
Cameron said he got the text from Zockoll late one afternoon. “I probably left the house in 10 minutes. I went right there.” They’d had Blueberry since she was a baby, Cameron said, and although she spends much of her time hanging out with the Cameron children, Colin, 10, and Mia, 13, she had never been outdoors before. Those experienced with parakeets told Cameron the bird would likely be within a few hundred feet of the house if she were found — and if they didn’t find her within a week, the odds were high they never would. “Our hopes were pretty slim at that point,” he said.
Days had passed and the boat was more than a mile upriver from their home, so despite their excitement, the Camerons were slightly skeptical that the recovered bird was actually their Blueberry.
“But the minute we opened the front door, the bird flew through the house, cut into the back room, and went right to her cage,” Cameron said. “There are three or four little perches in the house that she always sits on, and she started going one to the next for the next couple of hours. She was sitting on my shoulder, sitting on my kid’s shoulder, my wife’s, my daughter’s.”
Back on M/Y Entrepreneur, the happy rescuers were preparing to push off from the 17th Street Yacht Basin without their little blue stowaway. “Blueberry was so much fun to have on board for the two hours she was there,” Zockoll said. “Everyone was invested in this bird.”