ANDERSONVILLE — It took almost a dozen Edgewater neighbors the entire summer to rescue a resilient stray parakeet, who’s now up for adoption at Chicagoland Exotic Animal Rescue in Andersonville, 5315 N Clark St., Ste. 218.
Volunteers named the yellow-and-green parakeet George Hollywood because they found him at Hollywood Beach in Edgewater, said Chicagoland Exotic Animal Rescue founder Jessica Katz.
“The number of people involved with getting him to come here was just astronomical when you think about how he’s a bird that weighs about 35 grams,” Katz said.
Someone spotted George Hollywood over the summer meandering around Hollywood Beach and called the rescue to alert volunteers, Katz said. It’s likely he was a pet that escaped or was set free because parakeets don’t naturally live in the area, she said.
George Hollywood evaded being captured for months and survived by mimicking the behaviors of fellow birds along the Far North Side lakefront. He was monitored for health and safety — and humane capture — the whole time by the animal shelter’s volunteers and the community of lakefront birders and wildlife enthusiasts. He developed quite the following.
“George is a really smart little boy,” Katz said. “He partnered up with the local sparrows and pigeons and found out where they were getting their food and water, then started emulating their daily habits.
“His fan club became very attuned to his patterns and one of my volunteers would go out there almost every day and spend hours trying to catch him, but he had another agenda,” she said.
Parakeets are a species of parrots native to Australia and are often taken as pets. They prefer to live in warm grasslands and aren’t used to Chicago’s chilly environment.
It’s not “unheard of” for domesticated birds to get by on their own for short periods of time, but they face lots of dangers, from extreme weather to predators, Katz said.
George Hollywood was finally apprehended in mid-October, when a passerby nabbed the bird while he was resting on the beach and brought him in using a paper grocery bag.
“When I realized she’d found George Hollywood, I got so excited that I had her bring him right to me at work,” Katz said. “Our vet examined him and he was mostly healthy, just a little skinny and dehydrated.”
George Hollywood is staying with a foster while he awaits adoption to his forever home, according to the rescue. The bird was recently visited by one of his caregivers from his time on the beach and “he recognized her right away,” according to his adoption page.
“George is gregarious, gorgeous, and can emulate a cicada like a champ,” the page reads. “This smart boy would do best in an active household with dedicated humans and/or other parakeets.”
George Hollywood is being re-homed thanks to the volunteer network at Chicagoland Exotic Animal Rescue, which works to rescue stray pet birds and reptiles. Right now, the shelter is over capacity and needs community support, Katz said.
This year, the entirely volunteer-run Chicagoland Exotic Animal Rescue has saved more birds and reptiles than ever before. As of Nov. 1, volunteers have rescued 59 stray pets this year. In 2022, volunteers rescued 43 pets over the course of the entire year.
“It’s just showing more and more that our presence is useful to the community and beneficial to the critters we rescue,” Katz said.
The increase in rescues means that the cost of caring for these pets has also jumped significantly, so the organization is in need of volunteers and monetary donations, according to Katz.
You can learn more about how to volunteer or foster pets on Chicagoland Exotic Animal Rescue’s website. You can also donate money online or contact Chicago Exotics Animal Hospital directly at 847-329-8709.
Listen to the Block Club Chicago podcast: