Arcadia University students Seth Foreman (left) and David Blum are all smiles with Flourtown resident Barbara Sherf following the pet parrot rescue. (Photo by Sam Kelly)

Arcadia University students Seth Foreman (left) and David Blum are all smiles with Flourtown resident Barbara Sherf following the pet parrot rescue. (Photo by Sam Kelly)

by Barbara Sherf

What do animal lovers do when traffic is stopped in the 7300 block of Emlen Street in Mt. Airy as a pet parrot is standing in the roadway? We join forces.

The escaped pet, with its wings clipped, was standing in front of a car driven by David Blum with his Arcadia University roommate Seth Foreman riding shotgun recently. With car horns blaring, the two buff physical therapy majors held up traffic for several minutes waiting for the bird to cross, but it was like a deer in the headlights. After several minutes, the two good Samaritans and I were able to coax the bird off the road, but it was heading for the woods, where I knew it would likely not survive. I pleaded with Foreman to knock on nearby doors, while Blum kept the dazed bird out of the roadway and ran to my car, emptying a big plastic bin and grabbing a blanket.

Foreman went to the nearest house, and lo and behold, saw numerous parrots in cages and returned to report his findings. Eureka! We placed the bin on its side and using a stick, coaxed the bird into the bin and covered it with the blanket.

“I’m not sure how we would have caught it had you not had that bin and blanket,” Foreman later remarked.  “We might have just driven off once the pet was out of the road, but you made a pretty strong argument that the pet was still in danger.”

As Foreman and Blum each carried an end of the bin, we knocked and went around the back of the house, but it was clear nobody was home except a sweet Golden Retriever puppy and a room full of birds. Fortunately, we were able to gain access to the room where six other birds of various species were in cages squawking at our invasion. Not knowing which cage the bird belonged in, we just let it rest on top of one of the cages, and I left a note for the homeowner along with my business card.

After the rescue, Blum, 23, shared that he and Foreman, also 23, had just finished their final human anatomy exam at Drexel Medical School’s Queen Lane campus in East Falls, where they worked on human cadavers, treated themselves to a cheesesteak at Dalessandro’s Steaks in Roxborough and were looking forward to a celebratory night with their classmates before a week-long break. The pair were driving back to their Glenside apartment when they spotted the bird stepping into the road.

“At first I thought it was a peacock, but then I realized it was a pet parrot and put my flashers on and put my car in park,” Blum said.

Foreman had no choice but to get involved.

“I was looking forward to playing basketball with some friends when we got back, but all of a sudden Dave put on the brakes as the bird had just walked into the road. At first I thought it escaped from a zoo but then realized it was a pet,” said Foreman.

The two young men waited for it to cross in front of their car, but it just lingered there.

As I passed by in the opposite direction heading  from Chestnut Hill to Weavers Way in Mt. Airy, it was clear the bird was not going anywhere anytime soon. That’s when the three of us took action. The guys exited the car and tried to move it along off the road by walking behind it and making noises.

“At first I was surprised people were honking, but in retrospect I realize they couldn’t see what was going on,” Foreman recounted.

Blum, who had cats growing up and is a big dog lover, said he couldn’t just leave the scene.

“I love all types of animals. I’m glad we were all able to come together to get it back in its house safe and sound,” said Blum, who had quite a story to tell his fellow classmates while celebrating the final anatomy exams Friday night.

Blum shared that he had initially thought of becoming a doctor or veterinarian, but when he broke his ankle playing football in middle school, he changed his mind.

“Something clicked, and I saw the concrete progress taking place with physical therapy,” said the Telford resident who resides in an apartment in Glenside with Foreman while attending classes. On weekends, he is a caregiver to a physician who resides in Abington but suffered a spinal cord injury.

“I guess I’m all about helping people, animals, you name it.  It’s in my nature,” said Blum.

Pet owner Paula Siry, who recently moved from New Jersey with her husband and 7 and 9-year-old sons, was most grateful for the return of the parrot she had previously rescued. Siry shared that Lance is about 35 years old and that macaws can live to 50 or 60 years of age.

“He had been with a family for 12 years and lived in a dark basement for five years and was possibly a breeding bird. When I got him he was so stressed that he had removed all of his feathers, but most of them have grown back. He’s not friendly, but it’s not his fault. We are giving him a few square feet on this earth, good food and care and as much love as we can give him,” said a very grateful Siry.

Siry has a sweet golden retriever (as do I), two rabbits, a cat and two horses at Monastery Stables in Mt. Airy (where I used to ride). According to Siry, Lance is a bonded male who lives in a cage with Perquita, a 30-year-old macaw.

Siry struggles with keeping the birds caged all day, and because their wings are clipped she didn’t think twice about leaving them in the trees out front while she ran errands. “They normally scratch at the door when they want to come in, and I had let Perquita in, but Lance looked fine hanging in the tree. I had no idea he would go to the road and am rethinking letting them out. They love to be outside but the thought of this happening again is scary.”

As for her heroes, Siry was extremely touched that Lance was rescued. “I think what you all did was lovely. I’m not really surprised because I do have faith that people are good.”

When not rescuing pet parrots, Barbara Sherf tells the stories of business owners and retirees. She can be reached at