October 30, 2014
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A 'Sunni' end to a nightmare
John Howell
HOME AGAIN: Kevin DeWolf and his feathered friend Sunni.

Kevin DeWolf’s darkest of nightmares happened Thursday and his wished-for dream came true Saturday.

Between the two days, it was hell for him and his wife Rosemarie. They barely slept. They reached out to as many friends as they could through Facebook, they contacted the SPCA and they notified the news media. And when Friday’s storm hit with lashing winds and torrential downpours, they pretty much gave up hope of finding Sunni alive.

Sunni is a hand-raised macaw, a beautiful bird with an orange chest, bright blue wings that span four feet and a delightful personality. She’s attached to Kevin, although she welcomes strangers and is curious about them.

Maybe it was that curiosity; maybe it was because, at 15 months, she is a juvenile, but on Thursday, when they opened the door to their Morse Avenue home to let the two family dogs out, Sunni shot out, too.

Kevin and Rosemarie cruised the neighborhood, calling her name. Sunni wasn’t seen. They set up their network and called the SPCA. The SPCA put the word to its Facebook friends.

“The SPCA was awesome,” said Kevin.

Calls and texts started to come in with suggestions and words of encouragement. Kevin said he never imagined having to face the possibility of Sunni’s death. Macaws routinely live to be 50 and 60, and his greater concern is what becomes of her after his death. His will leaves Sunni to his daughter.

The first glimmer of hope came Saturday with a report of some squawking heard in Wethersfield Commons. There was little question it wasn’t a native and the DeWolfs raced to the neighborhood. About 2:30 that afternoon, they found Sunni, high in a pine tree. They did what they could to lure her down, offering her favorite pistachio nuts and even setting up chairs with the people in the hunt, to make it look like they were having a party.

“She loves parties, always wants to be a part of them,” said Kevin. “The people of Wethersfield were wonderful. They were so caring, so concerned.”

But Sunni was too traumatized to party. The bird left that perch for a roost high in the leafy branches of another tree.

Somehow Kevin had to go up and get her.

He called the Warwick Fire Department. They were reluctant to become involved but eventually sent over a bucket truck. Kevin explained he would probably be the only one who could get her. She would take flight if a stranger approached.

The firefighters agreed and gingerly lifted Kevin into the branches. Once he reached Sunni, he held her tightly against his chest.

“Every time the bucket jerked, she’d give me a danger nip,” said Kevin. He said it is a way of the birds communicating without squawking.

“They were wonderful,” he said of the firefighters.

At home and reunited with the dogs, and a cockatiel named Pearl, Sunni had a homecoming dinner that naturally included pistachios. But in 15 minutes, she was squawking and wanted to be let out of her cage.

She flew to Kevin who was on the couch, snuggled in beside him and went to sleep. Despite the bond, which Kevin believes will last a lifetime; he’s going to play it safe. Sunni’s wings are going to be clipped.


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