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Four-Week Family Stakeout Nets Rare Macaw

October 26, 1985

MASSAPEQUA PARK, N.Y. (AP) _ Alex is quite the bird, a real macaw. Just ask his owners and their neighbors who trailed him for four weeks, tried to coax him from trees, fretted while the tropical bird rode out a hurricane and wept when he finally came home.

The 6-year-old South American macaw with red body feathers and blue, green and purple wings returned last week, a month after he flew the coop when 13- year-old Dean Cassis accidentally left a door open.

″We just cried, we beat the odds, we persevered and we caught him. It became such a special time for us,″ said Dean’s mother, Pat Cassis. ″There was this special bond between us, this bond between man and animal.″

The bond was such that George Cassis, who bought the macaw for $800 in Florida, took to sleeping out in his car wherever Alex spent his nights. Cassis, 41, is a self-employed real estate broker who virtually gave up work while he trailed the bird trying to bring it back home.

″George would pull up in his car and sometimes fall asleep leaning back looking up in the tree for Alex,″ Mrs. Cassis said.

The bird’s distinctive cry helped track him down.

″He makes a real lot of noise, so we were able to keep up with him for a couple days,″ Mrs. Cassis said.

Alex, with a 4-foot wingspan, was sighted in the neighboring communities of Bellmore and Massapequa; he also roosted for two weeks in a Wantagh hickory tree. The large, white-beaked bird kept his own schedule, stopping to eat pears, apples and acorns from trees.

When Alex was in sight, he was out of reach in trees, ignoring repeated pleas to come down. The family even brought along Alex’s cage to entice him, but he refused to fly into it.

Sightings were reported more frequently after the family ran newspaper ads, put up posters and canvassed neighborhoods in a six-mile radius.

Meanwhile, nature intervened Sept. 27 in the form of Hurricane Gloria with winds of up to 100 mph. But Alex weathered the storm.

On Oct. 7, he seemed to take up permanent roost in one tree, then took off before Cassis could enlist game and fire officials to bring him down. Later, Cassis tried climbing another tree to retrieve Alex, but the bird flew away.

On Oct. 17, Alex appeared in a neighborhood tree, wounded and apparently unable to fly.

Cassis rescued him and whisked him to the veterinarian’s office, where the doctor discovered the bird had been shot in the chest with a BB pellet.

″We didn’t think he would live,″ Mrs. Cassis said. But four days later, Alex came home to a happy family, his wings clipped and chest healing.

The family has paid tribute to friends they made along Alex’s trail by presenting them with one of his feathers.

″We just thought it was appropriate,″ Mrs. Cassis said. ″We all did this together, and we couldn’t be happier with the outcome.″

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