Sonny the ring-necked parakeet. (Submitted photo/Gina Funk)

Terrace parakeet flies the coop

Sonny the Indian ring-necked parakeet has been sighted frequently around town

Have you noticed a unique green bird around Terrace? It could be Sonny, an escaped Indian ring-necked parakeet.

The robin-sized bird has been on the loose in Terrace ever since he flew away from his owner three months ago.

“He’s been outside on my shoulder and he’s been outside on his perch for hours and hours on end,” said Gina Funk, Sonny’s owner.

“I went outside with a bin in my hand and I went to go dump the water and he was on my shoulder, and I think the big bin scared him and he flew off.”

That happened on June 19. After he flew away, Funk did not see Sonny for around a month, and assumed he was gone for good.

“I honestly thought he was gone, I thought crows had gotten him,” she said.

Then, she got a call from a woman who had spotted Sonny on Medeek Ave. in an orchard. Funk said that she was able to use a ladder and get close to the bird, but he had no intention of coming home.

“I was like ‘come here, come here,’ and he said back ‘come here, come here’ but then he wouldn’t come to me, I think he’s gone wild,” said Funk.

Since that first attempted capture, Funk has tried to catch him around 30 times using different methods but has not been successful. She said that it seems like she gets daily messages on Facebook from people who have spotted Sonny in Terrace.

Sonny has been seen on the south side of the city on Evergreen St., Graham Ave. and even Braun’s Island since he left the northern reaches of Terrace’s horseshoe.

On Aug. 17, Darla Sporri posted to the Terrace Community Bulletin Board Facebook group that she had seen Sonny on Pear St.

That post was commented on by several other people saying they had seen him in various trees and backyards.

“He is making friends with the woodpeckers.. haha.. and those dove pigeon birds,” Sporri said in a Facebook comment.

The Indian ring-necked parakeet, also known as a rose-ringed parakeet is native to the Indian subcontinent. They are herbivores — Sonny has been observed eating different types of berries.

Sonny isn’t the first ring-necked parakeet to thrive in a new environment. In fact, ring-necked parakeets have had incredible success in Europe as an invasive species. A 2016 study found that there are 65 wild populations of the species across 37 European countries, totalling over 85,000 individuals.

Researchers believe that the booming populations in Europe are due to the repeated release of pet birds.

The birds are successful in the Himalayas of northern India and Pakistan, as well as England and the Netherlands. A study from Molecular Ecology on ring-necked parakeet genetics indicated that tolerance to cold is more likely than tolerance to high temperatures.

But Terrace can see temperatures as cold as minus 25 degrees Celsius during the winter, so Funk hopes to get Sonny back before the weather changes.

“If it ever got cold, it wouldn’t be good,” she said.

READ MORE: B.C. parrot sings along to Adele for National Bird Day


@BenBogstie
ben.bogstie@terracestandard.com

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