, Newburyport, MA

April 6, 2013

A home for Charlie

Lost cockatiel finds a cozy nest in Salisbury

By Angeljean Chiaramida

---- — SALISBURY — Veronica Atlantis knew she had a mission to attend to after learning about a lost cockatiel that was stranded up a tree at Salisbury Beach Reservation in the chilly mid-March air.

Atlantis, who runs a boarding house for birds, was moved to help the errant cockatiel when she read about its plight in The Daily News.

The cockatiel, which was discovered by a weekly birdwatching group, had been rescued from its 30-foot-high perch within the reservation by staff members Mike Magnifico and Allison Bishop after they got a call from police dispatcher Kristine Harrison,

“She said, `I got a good one for you,’” Magnifico said of Harrison’s call. “She said there was a cockatoo up a tree in the reservation. It was actually a cockatiel. Boy, what a beautiful bird.”

Magnifico and Bishop took the rescued bird, which was banded, to Newbury Animal Hospital for safe keeping with hopes of finding its owner.

Enter Atlantis who has rescued abused and unwanted birds for years, and who also runs Seaside Pet Minder in Salisbury. The service caters to dogs and cats, but also out-of-the-ordinary pets. Going on vacation and need someone to keep an eye on your aquarium or iguana? If so, Atlantis responds to the challenge.

Her heart went out to the cockatiel and she contacted the animal hospital to see if she could help. She searched for the bird’s possible owner, using such online tools as Petfinder, 911ParrotAlert and craigslist. But she found nothing; no one was hunting for the lost-in-flight cockatiel, she said.

“He had a band on his leg that said Florida,” Atlantis said. “It indicates he may have come from a big bird breeder in the south and shipped up here to be sold from a place like Petco. We think he escaped from a pet shop somewhere.”

Native to Australia, the cockatiel is a member of the parrot family and one of the most popular pet birds in the U.S.

Atlantis has a house full of birds rescued over the years, including special needs birds like a beakless pigeon, She figured what’s one more when she’s already taking care of 10 flying pets, especially given the recent death of her first bird, a sweet parakeet she had for 13 years.

So after learning no one called Newbury Animal Hospital to claim the cockatiel, Atlantis offered to give it a home. She took the bird — which she has since named Charlie — for a wellness check-up with her veterinarian, Dr. Wendy Emerson of Topsfield, who is an avian specialist.

“I always do that first thing with a new bird because birds hide their illnesses big time,” Atlantis said. “By the time you know they’re sick, you have big problems.”

Turns out Charlie was ill with a bacterial infection and has to be quarantined in his own room at Atlantis’ home.

But, not to worry, Atlantis said. Charlie’s being treated with a course of antibiotics, and he should be in tip-top shape soon.

“He’s fine,” Atlantis said. “And when he’s clear of the infection, he’ll be able to visit with all his other little friends here.”

Atlantis estimates Charlie is perhaps just a year or so old, a youngster given that cockatiels, according to, have a life expectancy of 16 to 25 years.

Although their colors vary, Charlie is dressed primarily in feathery white, with black and gray spotting on his wings, a yellow crest on top of his head and bright peach-colored cheeks.

“He is a feisty little guy with a lot of personality,” Atlantis said. “He has a home here now, and we’re happy to have him.”