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Runaway cockatoo from Utah’s Tracy Aviary holes up in a tree

A red tailed black cockatoo from the Tracy Aviary in Salt Lake City decided to hole up inside a tree in Liberty Park on Saturday night after a startling adventure away from its home.

Helen Dishaw, the aviary’s curator of bird training, said the 1-year-old bird, named Matilda, took off at about 2 p.m. Saturday during a training exercise in Liberty Park for a bird show.

Apparently, Matilda got spooked by some construction noise and flew away from her trainers. A group of aviary staff began searching for her. It turned out she hadn’t gone far.

A woman who lives near Liberty Park discovered Matilda in a tree by her house after hearing a strange noise outside. After seeing media reports about the missing cockatoo, she got online and looked up the sound a cockatoo makes. It was a match, and she called the aviary with Matilda’s location.

“It spiraled from there,” Dishaw said.

Matilda’s trainers were working on coaxing the bird back home when a wild Cooper’s hawk swooped in out of nowhere and chased the cockatoo around.

“It was absolutely horrifying,” Dishaw said of the close encounter with the bird of prey.

The bird bully gave Matilda a scare, and she took refuge in a tree in Liberty Park, refusing to come back out.

As of late Saturday night, Matilda was still in the tree, Dishaw said. She expects the bird to stay there for the night, since cockatoos can’t see in the dark.

Early Sunday morning, bird trainers will make another run at getting Matilda home. Hopefully the cockatoo’s nerves will have settled by then.

Dishaw said she’s confident Matilda will come home eventually. It’s not the first time a bird has decided to run away, she said.

“They always come back to the trainers as long as we can find them,” Dishaw said.

kbennion@sltrib.com

Twitter: @KimballBennion

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