Will the real owner of Winnipeg's famous runaway budgie please step forward

Jan 6, 2016 at 6:09 a.m. ET
Image: Enolla Bressanim/EyeEm/Getty Images

A budgie who somehow managed to survive Winnipeg's -25 C weather by rolling with a street-savvy flock of sparrows was rescued from the harsh winter elements on New Year's Day. But now trickier questions are being asked: Who owns the runaway tropical bird? And now that he's had a taste of the wild, will he ever want to be domesticated again?

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The lost budgie, named MacGyver, lived in the wild for two months or so before a Winnipeg couple found him in their backyard, rescuing him from the snow and ice. They called the organization Avian Welfare, who have since been trying to find a home for the bird.

But this has proved tougher than you'd think, as the group says between 12-15 people have come forward telling them the budgie belongs to them: "I have had six people contact me and I had a phone call from the humane society and from other agencies as well that have handfuls of people who claim this is their budgie," says Melanie Shura, president of Avian Welfare, in an interview with CTV News.

It's hard to know what to make of the fact that several people from Winnipeg are claiming that a lost budgie that's not theirs belongs to them — either the long, hard winter is really getting to people, or several different people happen to have accidentally lost track of their budgies in the snow (which makes you wonder whether they should own a tropical bird to begin with).

"This is going to be the challenge... to try and figure out who his original owner was," says Shura.

But even if Avian Welfare does track the owner down, another problem remains — after getting adopted by a flock of sparrows, the budgie no longer seems to think it's a pet bird.

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"I’ve been saying that he speaks fluent sparrow," Shura told the Winnipeg Free Press. "He was savvy enough to hook up with the sparrows and eat at bird feeders."

She says her organization was observing the bird closely and trying to help him adapt to captivity again: "We’re slowly working with him. He’s basically become a wild bird and trying to remember how to be a tame bird," Shura said. "He’s alert and he’s looking pretty good."

The couple who rescued the bird — Shelley and Val Corvino — were able to catch it by making an elaborate trap containing both a heater and bird feed. They told the Winnipeg Free Press that they named the bird MacGyver after the famous '80s TV character played by Richard Dean Anderson, who could solve complicated problems using scavenged scrap materials.

Image: Gyphy.com

"We have no idea why he survived, maybe it was the warmth from the light or roosting with the sparrows in the cedars," Shelley Corvino says of the bird.

"He's a little miracle."

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