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Curious motorist finds stolen bird

It was a strange sight to behold: an older man pushing a shopping cart topped with a 5-foot-tall bird cage near Southeast 166th Avenue and Division Street at about 12:30 a.m. Thursday.

The curious motorist asked the man about the cage and through a strange series of events ended up bringing it and the stolen bird inside the cage to the Gresham Police Department at 8:45 a.m., said Detective John Rasmussen, Gresham Police spokesman.

Rasmussen said he's pleased to report that the $1,100 bird, which was stolen Tuesday, Aug. 19, is safe and sound but hungry for crackers.

Portland police issued a press release Wednesday in hopes of recovering the bird.

Josey, a 5-year-old male Derbyan parakeet, was stolen — cage and all — from the yard at his home in the 15100 block of East Burnside Street between 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 20, said Sgt. Pete Simpson. A photo of the bird — showing Josey's gray body, green back and wings, and a bright orange beak — hit websites and television news.

Then, early Thursday, Aug. 22, woman saw an older African-American man pushing a shopping cart topped with an enormous bird cage.

Through her car window, she asked the homeless man about the cage. He said there was a bird inside that someone gave him, adding he planned to let the bird go but keep the cage.

This alarmed the woman. Many pet birds have clipped wings. She feared it wouldn't survive if released. Then the precariously perched cage fell off the cart and onto the sidewalk.

She parked the car to help, but the man ran off, leaving her the giant cage and a bird to deal with. So she called a nearby friend, and they carried the cage to the friend's house.

In the morning, the woman — with the help of her brother, who owns a pickup — brought the caged bird to the Gresham Police Department and discovered it was stolen.

Records staff was all aflutter with the recovered bird in the building, and Deputy Chief Dale Cummins sprung for some bird food to feed Josey while the police contact the bird's owners.

It seems that the bird, while OK, might not have been given the best diet by its bird-nappers: Police noted candy wrappers on the bottom of the cage — Charleston Chew and Airheads taffy, to be specific.

Richard Freach, the bird's owner, is just thrilled to have his bird back. "I honestly thought we would not see him again," he said while picking Josey up. "This is just so awesome."

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