While the chances of finding a missing Banbridge Lovebird are growing increasingly slim, his owner Mark Gribben has been touched by the number of people concerned for his safe return.
The little Lovebird, who had just become a dad to four chicks, went missing from his Oak Grove home during the storms two weeks ago and while Mark says it’s difficult to know if he could survive in the bad weather he is nonetheless appealing for everyone in the area to be on the lookout.
“I’m really hoping somebody has found the little guy as he was tending to four very young chicks in the nest,” said Mark, who has 20 pairs of lovebirds. “I keep hoping maybe someone has took him in.
“At first I could hear him in distance but couldn’t pinpoint where he was - it’s possible the wind carried him, so he couldn’t find his way back.”
Mark discovered the vibrant green lovebird with a peach face was missing, when he went out to feed the birds after work on Friday, January 9, and noticed the outside flight door open.
When Mark realised what had happened, he put an appeal on Facebook asking friends to share and was delighted with the response.
“There were so many people helping out and sharing my post that I decided to put up a weekly update to let people know how the chicks are doing” said Mark, who also rang round vets and sanctuaries in the area. In the days following the lovebird’s disappearance things became critical for the chicks, as the distressed mother abandoned them.
“The mother hen is not feeding the chicks now - she did one feed but then abandoned them,” said Mark.
“Usually one of the birds does the night feed and the other does the day feeding, but it’s as if they seem to know that one of them will not be able to do it on their own.
“She’s in with the rest of the flock now, but was really down in the dumps for the first couple of days.
“She was calling for him and she’s still not great - she’s not really socialising with the rest of them.
“It’s such a pity because he was a fantastic wee dad - some males have their chicks and then leave but he really tended to them well and their wee bellies were always stuffed.”
This left Mark taking over the role of new dad, handfeeding the chicks every two hours.
“All the babies are taking to formula really well but I just hope the smallest two have got enough goodness from their mum and dad to survive, as they were really way to young to be hand-reared. You can see they are growing though and their feathers are starting to appear. There’s just one really tiny chick who is not out of the woods yet though,” said Mark.