Firefighters use aerial platform to pluck parrot from tree

Posted: Tuesday, September 19, 2000

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- It's a good thing Gracie the parrot has friends in high places.

She was near the top of a birch tree for almost 24 hours Sunday when her owner, Kathryn Dodge, and Fairbanks firefighter Rich Meyers used an aerial platform normally used to fight fires to help get her down.

The yellow-headed Amazon parrot was spooked off of Dodge's shoulder Saturday afternoon while the two were outside doing yard work. Dodge said she forgot Gracie was on her shoulder and moved a ladder, scaring the bird into flight.

Dodge combed the neighborhood, calling out for Gracie. At around 5 p.m. Gracie started talking back. She was in the birch tree one block south of Dodge's home. But no amount of talking could get Gracie to come down.

Dodge said she called the fire department on Saturday, but was told they had never successfully retrieved a bird from a tree because they usually took flight when approached. The suggestion was the bird would eventually fly home.

But Gracie didn't.

On Sunday, Dodge again asked for help; this time the fire department obliged. Battalion Chief Cliff Mercer said rescuing the bird gave them a chance to train with the platform.

After Dodge and Meyers were strapped in, the platform was extended up just enough for Dodge to reach out and coax Gracie into her hand. Down below, six neighbors and a few firefighters cheered.

Once safely on the ground, Dodge put Gracie inside her coat to keep her warm while she walked back to her house on 8th Avenue.

''She's not very happy and she's hungry,'' Dodge said.

Gracie's wings are partially clipped, but not enough to keep her from flying. Dodge said she was going to have Gracie's wings clipped further so she can't escape again.

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