April 29, 2011 04:28:48 PM
ALI HELGOTH / News Herald Writer

PANAMA CITY — In the avian version of the story, improbable as it might be, Romeo and Juliette end up together.

More than a month after she flew from her backyard cage, Juliette was returned home Thursday night to her Romeo. The two aren’t love birds — though they do share a cage with three of them — they are cockatiels, a bird native to Australia.

“People told me an exotic bird could not survive in the wild, so I just gave up on it,” said the birds’ owner Kenny Eastham, who keeps the five birds in a cage in his backyard in a neighborhood near Jinks Middle School.

Eastham had the cage door open while feeding the birds in late March when Juliette jumped from his arm to his shoulder, to the back of his neck and then up in a tree.

He said he watched helplessly as the bird flew from tree to tree and, he thought, out of his life.

“I guess she thought this could be a really nice Sunday out,” Eastham joked.

It was more than a one-day trip, though.

About three days after Juliette left, Eastham had pretty much given up hope when a friend suggested he post something on Craigslist and Facebook. “I just didn’t see there was any chance,” he said.

On Monday, Eastham said, an employee of Gulf Coast Community College said he heard noise and saw a crow attacking the cockatiel. He scared off the crow and Juliette, a friendly bird, came to him. The employee gave the bird to a couple who already had a bird of their own. They asked to not be named.

Eastham said the couple reluctantly called him to return the bird — they really wanted to keep her, but thought it was the right thing to do.

Eastham said he was happy to have his bird back after about 37 days away.

Romeo, not so much.

The reintroduction was tense, Eastham said. Juliette spent her first night in the bird cage after more than a month away in the “dog house.” Eastham said the other birds were aggressive toward Juliette when she was first brought home.

But by Friday the 3-year-old birds were getting along well, Eastham said.

Eastham received the birds about three months ago from a friend who could no longer keep them, he said.

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