Herald JournalHerald Journal, May 16, 2005

Fire department rescues bird

By Ryan Gueningsman
Staff Writer

Ever since Delores Haekenkamp’s husband Kenneth passed away a little less than a year ago, the one thing that has remained a constant in her life has been her colorful cockatiel Pretty Bird.

So, when Pretty Bird flew away the morning of May 5, Haekenkamp went searching for her companion.

“She was gone the whole day and it was so quiet in here,” Haekenkamp said. “I really missed her. I don’t know what I’d do without her.”

The morning Pretty Bird went missing, Haekenkamp walked outside onto her back deck, not realizing Pretty Bird was on her shoulder. Haekenkamp said Pretty Bird chirped at something and flew away, landing in a neighbor’s yard.

Pretty Bird kept eluding capture, making her way through several yards, and eventually, out of sight of Haekenkamp.

“I was so stiff and sore from all the walking I did to try to find her,” she said. Finally, later that afternoon, Haekenkamp’s daughter, Jeanette, came to town to help look for Pretty Bird.

As they were driving around, Jeanette would whistle, awaiting a call back from Pretty Bird. A short while later, near Sherman Avenue and Kingsley Street, Pretty Bird answered Jeanette’s call back. The bird had again been located – this time high up in a tree in a yard on Sherman Avenue.

Now what to do?

Now that they found Pretty Bird, they needed to get her out of the tree somehow. A call was made to Winsted Police Officer Glen Strom.

Strom made a few phone calls – one to local bird expert Marie Thurn of Glencoe, and one to Winsted Fire Chief Paul Herbolsheimer.

Thurn has been involved in many bird and mammal rescues in the past, and quickly led the rescuers in the correct procedure, including how to grab the bird out of the tree.

“You just can’t beat getting the opportunity to respond to a call like this,” Herbolsheimer said. “In the end, there was no hose to wash, no investigation to complete, nobody was hurt, and nobody had to look over a pile of ash the next morning.”

Winsted Fire Department Ladder Captain Brad Bush and Herbolsheimer brought the ladder truck to the residence and positioned it where the ladder could be raised to the tree Pretty Bird was in.

Thurn also set up a baby monitor that could be used for Haekenkamp to “talk” to Pretty Bird as she was being brought down out of the tree.

Herbolsheimer climbed the ladder, successfully grabbed Pretty Bird, and brought her down to the ground. He returned her to her cage, where Thurn inspected the bird to see if it was hurt.

“Over the years, I thought I’ve seen just about everything, but I was wrong,” said Herbolsheimer, who has been on the fire department since 1987. “I would have assumed we would have been requested to retrieve a cat from a tree long before a bird.”

Finding a home

The Haekenkamps used to live on McLeod County Road 1, just north of Highway 7, where Kenneth had a woodworking shop for many years.

Delores worked for the postal service, including as a mail carrier in Hutchinson, as well as working in Silver Lake, Cokato, and Norwood. She retired several years back when the two moved to town due to health concerns of her husband.

“I miss it out there,” she said. “There were a lot of birds and animals out there.”

The couple moved to a new house in Winsted on Kingsley Street about four years ago, as Kenneth’s health continued to decline.

“My husband would sit in the recliner, and she’d sit on his shoulder and they’d both sleep like a couple of babies,” Haekenkamp recalled with a smile. “She’s a wonderful pet now that I’m alone.”

The Haekenkamps four children, Jeanette from Edina, Bob from Minnetonka, Sandra from Brooklyn Park, and Kenneth Jr., from St. Cloud and their families all come and visit Delores.

“Everyone has to play with the bird,” she said, as Pretty Bird climbed on her shoulder. “I’m sure grateful they got her down.”

“That cockatiel touched so many lives that night and drew a whole bunch of people together that normally wouldn’t be together,” Thurn said. “People really came together to make a difference, and people’s kindness sure showed.”

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