Airo’s angels bring him home

Airo and Jordyn Wolffe

A Table View family spent six days looking for their macaw, Airo, who was supposed to be the star of the show in an advert in Bishopscourt but flew off when he became camera shy.

Airo is one of many free-flighted macaws owned by Maxine Wolffe, who says Airo’s disappearance is a story of determination, ubuntu and her daughter Jordyn’s knowledge of free-flight.

The macaw flew off Thursday February 17 and was found with a scratch above his beak and three superficial marks on his chest a week later, Thursday February 22.

Ms Wolffe says Airo tried to return to the spot where the advert was to be shot, but when he saw that the crew were still on set, he flew away again.

Airo was spotted in Bishopscourt on Friday February 17, but a sparrow hawk was on his tail, which made him fly to the trees. Ms Wolffe believes the trees might have caused Airo’s injuries.

The search then began with people being alerted on social media.

Lisa Cooper, Abigail McDuling and Jennifer Demblon kept people informed on WhatsApp, while Nicole Jennings made posters and helped with the search.

Ms Wolffe’s husband, Kevin, put posters up all over Bishopscourt, while Annerie de Waal was ready to drive Jordyn to any location where Airo was spotted.

It was challenging, she says, as the search ran from 5am to 9pm daily.

“Social media was the crucial part of the search,” says Ms Wolffe. “We would have sightings texted to us, and after a few days, we worked out Airo’s flight pattern. Then we got a call from a resident of Bishopscourt to tell us that her housekeeper had noticed Airo had slept in their garden for two nights. This was excellent information – we had located his safe zone. We knew he was flying between Bishopscourt and Claremont daily.”

He was then found at Herschel Girls’ Preparatory School where he flew into Jordyn’s arms and went to the vet for a check-up the next day.

Ms Wolffe believes Airo survived because he is a free-flight-trained bird and is familiar with palm nuts, lilly-pilly berries and gum nuts.

She encouraged bird owners to look into free-flight training or even basic recall training.

Free-flight training gives the bird the freedom of flying away, going to sit in a tree or wherever they like, then flying back to the trainer. This type of training needs to be taught at home first before moving outdoors.

Ms Wolffe says she will forever be grateful to the people who helped to find Airo. She called them “Airo’s angels”.