A 10-month-old cockatiel from Lombard experienced quite the adventure Thanksgiving Day after he escaped his owner's home, flew to a nearby hotel and ended up in the care of a bird-loving stranger.
Frank Alonso, 24, and his wife, Kim, purchased Tango the cockatiel when he was just 8 weeks old and quickly fell in love with his charismatic personality.
On Thanksgiving morning, however, the Alonsos thought they had lost their beloved pet forever.
While Kim was feeding birds outside their home, Tango flew out the open balcony door and was taken by the wind. He ended up on the roof, wailing out of fear and confusion, Frank said.
By the time a neighbor helped Frank up to the roof, Tango was already gone.
"At that point, we really didn't think we'd see him again," Frank said. "My wife was a mess."
Hoping they would get lucky, Kim printed fliers with Tango's picture while Frank scanned the neighborhood.
"I started whistling, and could hear a faint whistle in the distance," Frank said. "I followed it a few blocks, and ended up finding Tango in a tree."
Frank said he was overcome with relief—until Tango tried to fly and was again taken by the wind. Because of his small size, the gusts were strong enough to whip his body around the sky.
Tango ended up in a nearby evergreen tree, so Frank and Kim tried to lure him down with some of his favorite food. Unfortunately, a ladder they brought from home fell near the tree, startling Tango and causing him to fly from tree to tree and come within inches of being hit by a car.
With Tango perched in the highest tree on the block, Frank and Kim became increasingly frustrated and unsure of what to do. The situation was made worse when a hawk appeared in the sky, causing Tango to panic.
"At that point it was sheer panic, because this hawk was chasing Tango right in front of us, and we were helpless to the situation," Frank said.
Eventually, the hawk chased Tango out of sight, and the Alonsos were forced to return home without their pet—and without knowing if he had survived.
Over the next couple of days, Frank and Kim were stricken with grief over Tango's disappearance. They put up fliers Friday, but grew increasingly worried as the temperature plummeted over the weekend.
Just when it seemed all hope was lost, Frank received a call from an unknown number Sunday. The woman said she stayed at the Westin Hotel in Lombard over the weekend. She said she met another woman who had found a bird in the hotel parking garage and was taking care of it.
By sheer luck, the woman who called Frank had taken a different route home due to traffic, and saw one of the fliers with Tango's picture.
"It was straight out of a movie," Frank said. "That hotel is about a mile from our house. I couldn't believe it."
Frank and Kim rushed to the Westin, and were surprised to discover that Tango had become something of a celebrity during his stay. Because the police were notified when was found, an employee was able to track down the woman who found him, Julie Bowman.
Although Bowman had already left the hotel and was heading back to Minnesota with Tango, Frank was able to call her and ask her to meet them near Rockford.
While on the phone, Bowman described how she came to find Tango.
"She explained how she had found him cold and motionless on the ground of the parking garage with his head tucked close to his body," Frank said. "Most people probably would have assumed he was dead, and honestly he probably wouldn't have lasted much longer."
Thankfully, Bowman is a bird owner herself. It took her an hour to warm him up, but eventually he started to move again. She continued to care for him at the hotel over the weekend, Frank said.
"It was nothing short of a miracle," he said. "I think about all the things that had to happen for us to get him back, and it seems impossible."
Bowman dropped Tango off at Rockford Animal Control, which held him until Frank and Kim arrived to take him home.
"The moment we got him back was indescribable," Frank said.
With the bird safe and sound at home—located just outside Downers Grove—Frank took to his blog to share the story of "Tango's Thanksgiving Adventure."
"Tango had the adventure of his lifetime: facing multiple near death experiences, battling the elements, avoiding predators, all while discovering the world was bigger than he ever knew. However, after less than a half hour of being home he was back to his old self, and the whole time I’ve been writing about this Thanksgiving miracle, I couldn’t be happier to be constantly interrupted by Tango jumping on the keyboard."