During the last month, the Warwick Beacon followed a story that involved neighbors squawking at one another about a 12-year-old umbrella cockatoo that one side claimed was screeching incessantly and directing vulgar phrases at them.
Other neighbors shared their grief, and have made it known that they are not happy.
The story made national news, as USA Today, ABC News and a host of other media outlets picked it up.
After a Municipal Court hearing last week, the bird owner was found guilty of violating the city’s animal noise ordinance, and fined $15 for a pet that causes a disturbance through “habitual howling, yelping, barking or other noise.”
The neighbors who filed complaints that led to the violation said that while they view the ruling as a “minor victory,” they plan to leave Warwick and relocate out-of-state due to the frustration they’ve endured.
The bird owner was not willing to comment, but her attorney said she is looking to put the situation behind her.
At the hearing, Judge Joel Gerstenblatt noted the ridiculousness of the case, as well as the fact that the story generated a lot of interest, especially during primary elections.
The story is one of the most read on the Beacon website, with more than 4,100 views and at least 60 very colorful comments.
“From my perspective, especially [last] week, and what’s happening in the world, there are more important things to focus on,” the judge said.
While we can acknowledge that he is, in a way, criticizing the media for giving the situation so much attention, including us, we admit he has a point. Are we more concerned with the drama that occurs around us as opposed to important issues going on in the city?
Or is he wrong altogether? Does the case deserve the attention it has received? You could argue that since it gained so much interest, the media is in tune with their readers and viewers.
We’re not quite sure we have an answer. Still, we’re pleased people are picking up the paper and viewing the story online at warwickonline.com. Perhaps in addition to the trials of a cockatoo, they’re also following other more pressing issues, or we just might squawk.