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A lost budgie that made a break for it three times during lockdown and survived a dramatic crow chase across Oban has been reunited at last with its owners on Tiree.
The epic tale of how family pet Leaf repeatedly gave home-alone dad Stewart MacLennan the slip is fast winging its way to legend status.
‘You couldn’t make it up if you tried!’ said Stewart who was left in charge of Leaf and other budgie Sunshine when wife Julie and daughters Annie, nine, and Orla, seven, went to stay on Tiree.
Leaf waited until Stewart went out for a bike ride to make his first escape.
The unsuspecting dad-of-two had left the feathered friends outside their Soroba Road home for some air in the birdcage after removing its base to clean it.
‘When I got back, Leaf had disappeared. I couldn’t work it out. Sunshine was still on his perch and the cage door was shut. There were no gaps big enough to squeeze through, it had me stumped,’ said Stewart who searched high and low for clues.
Red-faced he rang Julie to break the news, but the couple decided not to tell the girls the sad news straight away in case Leaf came back.
The next day a neighbour got in touch to say someone by the hospital had found a budgie fitting Leaf’s description.
Stewart collected Leaf and the plan was to put both budgies on the next ferry to Tiree for safer-keeping. The cage was loaded into his van but had tipped up so when the doors of the van were opened Leaf manged to get out again.
‘The back of the van was full of stuff. I was scrambling about trying to grab him but he flew off. I’m not an animal-lover at all but I did my best to catch him and get him back into the cage, putting a cover over this time. There was no way I was going to let him escape again – but he did.
‘I’d had to go off somewhere and got a call from work saying he’d got out again and was flying about the shed. I tried to catch him but he flew away over the tops of other units in the yard and up into some trees before being chased by two big crows. I thought that was definitely the last of him and he’d be dead for sure.
‘I rang Julie to tell the girls he’d gone for good and it would just be Sunshine heading to Tiree but as that budgie safely arrived on the island I got a message from another neighbour saying someone had spotted a green leaf-coloured budgie flying about town.
‘To cut the story short, he got handed into the vets. He’s now on Tiree, back with Sunshine and back with the girls. I don’t think they’ll leave him with me ever again.
‘We’ve worked it out now that he must’ve been using his beak to lift the cage latch and escape. We might have to rename him Houdini!’