Lily Chmiet has put her life on hold for Peaches.
She has stopped going to her university classes. Instead, Chmiet has been putting up missing posters and wandering her west Edmonton neighbourhood calling and whistling for her missing pet.
Peaches is a starling but according to Chmiet, not a typical starling.
“It’s been very difficult. It’s been hard to sleep and I’ve been crying. I don’t have a child, a human child, but it’s the next thing.”
Starlings are considered a nuisance in Alberta. Flocks can eat fields of crops and “whitewash” farm buildings.
Peaches prefers civilization. Chmiet says her bird is affectionate with people and does people things.
She has videos of her pet taking a bath and opening Christmas presents. In the summer, the starling enjoys lounging on the patio soaking up the sun.
Last week, Chmiet was preparing to leave home. She says Peaches wanted her to stay and kept flying towards her. Then a flock of sparrows flew by the window. That spooked Peaches and she bolted.
She flew out the front door and was gone.
“It was just a shock,” said Chmiet. “She doesn’t fly off. It’s not a normal thing,”
Chmiet put down her coffee and ran after her bird. She called out Peaches’ name. She tried whistling for her. She even played audio pf starling calls on her phone at full volume as she walked the streets and alleys of her neighbourhood.
She found nothing.
All this happened in the middle of Edmonton’s coldest February in decades.
Over the next few days, she put up posters and received some encouraging information.
The man recognized the bird and tried to grab her. That spooked Peaches and she flew off.
Another woman reported seeing Peaches on her balcony eating snow and a third person said she saw the bird pecking at her kitchen window.
“She was trying to search for help that night.”
The longer Peaches is gone, the more worried Chmiet gets.
Starlings can survive in Canadian winters. Chmiet isn’t so sure about Peaches.
She first saw the bird during a trip to Kananaskis. It was in the wild but appeared to be domesticated.
Chmiet returned home to Edmonton but couldn’t stop thinking about the bird. She spoke with experts who thought its actions seemed odd for a wild animal so Chmiet drove four hours back to Kananaskis and the bird found her. Chmiet held out her hand, Peaches landed on her finger and she took the animal home.
“She’s not accustomed to surviving out there and the reasons we have her in the first place is because she wouldn’t have survived out there.”
Chmiet hopes someone else tried helping Peaches. If they did, she wants her pet back.
“Please, hopefully somebody does have her and you do return her to us,” begged Chmiet. “She has a loving home and she means so much to us and we really want her back.”