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Lost cockatiel finds his way home with a little help from a Billy Joel song

Christine Iturrino put up flyers and posted information on social media after her pet cockatiel, Joel, flew out of the open front door.

Lost cockatiel finds his way home with a little help from a Billy Joel song
Cover Image Source: Facebook/ Christine Cowles Iturrino

Christine Iturrino had a special bond with her pet cockatiel, Joel, whom she adopted from a bird rescue group 18 months earlier. However, one day, when Iturrino returned home from the supermarket, Joel flew out of the open front door and landed on her shoulder, causing her to panic and accidentally scare him away. Iturrino took immediate action and put up "LOST BIRD," notices all over her neighborhood, dedicating two days to searching for Joel. She even posted photos of him on social media, handed out additional flyers, and looked tirelessly around the neighborhood for him.

Joel was an important part of Iturrino's life and had the run of the house. He loved music, especially Billy Joel's "Uptown Girl," and spent most of his time outside of his cage. Iturrino was kicking herself for not being more careful when she brought in her groceries and worried that she would never see Joel again.


Nine days later, while Iturrino was driving a bus, she received a text from an employee at SkyWheel Myrtle Beach, a popular tourist attraction on the boardwalk located two miles from her house. The text said that they had found her bird, and included a photo of Joel perched on the employee's shoulder inside the SkyWheel ticket booth. Iturrino was overjoyed and shouted out to her passengers that her bird had been found. The employee, Theresa Glazer, promised to keep Joel with her for the day and bring him to Iturrino's house that evening.

According to The Washington Post, When Iturrino arrived home from work, Glazer brought Joel wrapped in a towel, and there was an emotional reunion between Iturrino and her beloved pet. Joel squawked at her, then flew over to her shoulder, and Iturrino told him how much she had missed him and what a brave boy he was.


Glazer explained how Joel was found. Apparently, he had flown to the SkyWheel and landed on a man's shoulder as he was waiting in line for a ride. The man brought Joel to the ticket booth, and Glazer recognized him from Iturrino's flyers. It was a series of miracles that brought Joel back to Iturrino, and she was grateful to Glazer and the man who found him.

During a morning safety check on March 6, Gavin Scire, a co-worker of Glazer's, heard chirping and saw Joel, a cockatiel, hopping on the Ferris wheel's bars about 100 feet up. Gavin, known as "Spider-Man" among SkyWheel employees for his climbing skills, held out his arm, and Joel flew to him. It was unclear how long Joel had been there, but he seemed frightened to fly down from such a high perch. Given that cockatiels can survive only 24 to 48 hours without food, Joel likely found some nuts, seeds and greens to eat during his adventure.


As reported by the news outlet, Scire and Glazer declined to be interviewed for the story, but Sean Bailey, the marketing manager at SkyWheel Attractions, said that Scire rescued Joel by climbing down the ladder with the bird inside his hoodie. Joel refused to go inside a small pet carrier and instead perched on Theresa's shoulder all day while she tried to find his owner. Glazer texted her mother about the bird, and her neighbor remembered the "missing bird" notices and provided Christine Iturrino's phone number.

The employees saw that the bird had an affinity for Billy Joel's music and played some Piano Man tunes to confirm if this was Joel. The bird bobbed his head to the Billy Joel music, and the employees knew that he belonged to Christine. Once she had him home, she took him to the vet and learned he was underweight but otherwise fine. Iturrino plans to get a harness for Joel and take him back to the SkyWheel to thank Scire and others for rescuing him. Bailey is proud of Scire and Glazer and jokes that they "literally took our customer service to new heights."

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