A flightless bird, and a downtown rescue of what may be a spirit animal

Polly Brandmeyer was jogging down the Westside Highway with a friend last month when something caught their eye around Horatio — a bird, pecking around in the dirt among the plantings, looking nothing like your ordinary, city variety winged creature. Its color also stopped a couple more runners, one of whom knew just what he was looking at.

“It’s a cockatiel,” he said to Polly, “Do you want to take it home?” He had one already, or he would have himself — this one was a keeper.

Turns out Polly’s daughter India had been asking for a bird for years, but Polly had refused. “I don’t believe in keeping birds, but this one was clearly starving.” So she wrapped the little guy up in her jacket, got him home, and made a call to Pamper Ur Pets, whose owner did a phone consultation on the bird’s health (“Give him three days and he will be very happy and you will be very happy”) and set the family up with all the supplies.

“India had been begging me for a bird for so long, that’s what gave me the conviction. She is going crazy in quarantine,” Polly said. And the bird is a winner. “She’s lived up to expectations. They are very social and cannot get enough human interaction. And ours has gotten so sassy. She will chirp, we open the door, and she hops out and walks around.” She can glide a little despite her clipped wings, and will jump onto a wooden spoon to be carried around.

Her name is now Ash.

There’s another reason the bird has filled a void in their home on N. Moore. Polly’s brother lived with the family for the past 18 months, while he was being treated for esophageal cancer. But he could not fight it off — he died on March 17 at age 50. Friends on Facebook, when they saw Polly’s post, couldn’t help note the timing of what they thought must be a spirit animal.

“The bird has brought a little bit of joy and a little bit of pandemonium,” said Polly, since the family of five also has a labradoodle. “But definitely joy.”



  1. Such a nice story!

  2. I hope they attempted to find the family who lost the bird. The clipped wings indicate he was someone else’s pet.

    • I’m sure these people checked to see if this bird was someone else’s and, if it was, would return the bird to its owner provided the owner shows proof of ownership.

      If I take in an animal and no one claims it it’s mine, sorry.

  3. Good thinking. Perhaps someone can post a story with pictures online…

  4. hi its me the girl from the article im having so much fun with Ash i do believe he is a spirit animal and also we did check and it had no owner but he is very sassy and bites but he is getting comfortable with me and the family

    • Hi India! So glad you are enjoying that little guy. He is lucky to have such a nice home and family, especially after what had to be a rough time in the park. Say hi to him (her?) from Tribeca!

  5. Can someone take this bird back please he bites and he is very mean to me I love him so much but he is definitly not the type of bird that is meant for a family or meant to be a pet.