A wayward cockatiel few into harm’s way Tuesday during state police firearms training at the Guilderland range.
But the bird managed to avoid the gunfire and landed on the hat of one of the cadets.
“I’ve never heard of anything like this,” said Capt. Joseph Dodd, assistant director of training.
The bird appeared to be unfazed by the cadets in bulletproof vests, who held their fire, according to Dodd. Firearms instructors grabbed the bird and purchased a cage and food and water for it. The cockatiel remains in police custody.
“It’s safe, and it appears to be in good health,” Dodd said. “We’re glad the bird was unharmed and we were able to secure him, so he can get back to his rightful owner.”
Police are asking the owner to call the New York State Police Academy at 457-7254.
Cockatiels can travel dozens of miles, especially if the wind is blowing, according to Robert Lewis, publicity director for the Capital Region Parrot Society. They are not very big — measuring about 10 to 12 inches from top to tail and weighing about 3 to 4 ounces, he said.
Lewis believes this cockatiel’s home is very close to the gun range and that its owner is very attached to the bird, based on how unafraid it was to interact with humans.
“Chances are that this bird has not been out for very long because it was so easily attracted to the person, didn’t fly away when the person reached out for it,” he said.
Having a bird land on someone’s head is also somewhat unusual, according to Lewis. He has heard stories where people have been in their backyard and birds have landed on them.