Cranky fugitive cockatoo captured in Brookline

Brookline police officer Danny Yanz, Darrell Williams of Brookline, and Brookline Sgt. Russell O'Neil took the bird from the home where he was captured.
Brookline police officer Danny Yanz, Darrell Williams of Brookline, and Brookline Sgt. Russell O'Neil took the bird from the home where he was captured.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

It took three months, an assortment of cages and traps, and a small army of rescue workers, but an irascible cockatoo who spent the summer terrorizing Robert F. Kennedy's childhood home in Brookline is finally back in his cage.

As of Thursday, Dino soars no more.

But the puffy white fugitive, whose dinosaur-like shriek earned him his name, did not go quietly.

Attempts to bring Dino to justice intensified late last week. Some worried that he would freeze to death once cold weather set in. Others, such as a retired federal judge whose home Dino had spent months chewing holes in, simply wanted to be rid of the screeching bird. But over the course of a chaotic weeklong rescue effort coordinated by a loose coalition of bird lovers, Dino's peccadilloes were rarely the problem.


"They all want the glory," said a woman named Jude, a self-described "bird person" who devoted the better part of the last week to trying to trap Dino.

Catching Dino, who escaped from a cage left open outside his owner's Pearl Street apartment in July, should have been relatively simple because he had developed a routine, said Marc Johnson of the group Foster Parrots.

Finding lost birds is usually the hard part, Johnson said, but Dino was easy to spot. He came to the same house on Naples Road every day to eat food left for him by a couple who live in the home, Tai Ta and Lien-Nhu Tran — eating breakfast "like a noble English gentleman farmer," Ta said. He roosted in a tree on Osborne Street at night. And he spent his mornings gnawing holes in the home of retired judge Nancy Gertner and her husband, John Reinstein, the former legal director of the ACLU.

On Wednesday, at around 7 a.m., Gertner awoke to find Dino chewing through the netting that she had installed to keep him out of the eaves. She sprayed him with the garden hose, and he flapped away, alighting not long after in the tree outside the Naples Road home.


Soon, would-be rescuers began to arrive. Jude brought a small log and a bag of birdseed. She stuck the log into the bag and began waving it at Dino, apparently hoping he would fly to the birdseed and land on the log. No dice. Dino hopped around on the second-floor porch and into his cage, which had been sitting open for the last two months.

But Ta and Tran were not at home, and there was no one upstairs to close the cage door. A man in a walking boot set down his coffee and attempted to scale a small evergreen in the yard. He got to the gutter before sliding down hard onto his already broken foot.

Later in the afternoon, a Boston Animal Rescue League officer showed up with a new trap. They baited it with food and ran a string into the house to pull the lid shut.

Lien-Nhu Tran gave Dino one final snack after neighbors at last succeeded in capturing the cockatoo.
Lien-Nhu Tran gave Dino one final snack after neighbors at last succeeded in capturing the cockatoo.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Within moments, Dino arrived for his dinner. After poking around for a minute or two, he perched on the trap's lid, peering down occasionally at the food. A minute passed. Then another. Inside, the rescue worker was poised to pull the string the moment Dino dropped inside.

But startled by a passing squirrel, Dino flew away. The empty trap slammed closed, and Dino was gone.


By Thursday — his last day as a free bird — Dino was back.

He showed up for his morning hosing from the judge and then headed to breakfast, where Tran fed him seeds and chunks of chopped corn on the cob.

After Dino left for the morning, Jude helped set a new trap: A rope ran from the porch to the driveway, with Jude poised to pull Dino's cage shut when he went inside.

But as the day wore on, the bird's owner, Shawna Payne, and Jude and others accused Tran of sabotaging rescue efforts — removing food from traps and refusing to cooperate with their plans — in an effort to keep Dino free. They shouted at one another from the porch. Things got heated. Someone called the cops.

Dino’s owner, Shawna Payne, was all smiles.
Dino’s owner, Shawna Payne, was all smiles.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

Tran "doesn't want to be the one doing the catching," said David Cheung, a Brookline Police Department animal control officer who helped mediate.

Tran's Buddhist faith, Cheung said, means she is unwilling to trick Dino into anything.

But the visit from Cheung got everyone on the same page, and at last the trap was ready to go. Food was in the cage. Jude was waiting, rope in hand.

Just before 4 p.m. Thursday — his usual dinner time — Dino returned. He eyed a squirrel for a while, then finally crept inside his cage. Payne yelled. Jude yanked the rope.

The door slammed shut with Dino safely inside, and a small crowd of neighbors let out a whoop worthy of Dino himself.


It took some time to get Dino downstairs. Ta initially declined to let anyone in to retrieve the bird, so for the second time Thursday, Brookline police were called to quash a Dino dispute. Finally, flanked by two police officers, Dino was marched outside, where Payne was waiting.

"I'm so happy that I have my bird back," Payne said, peering into the cage at Dino. "I was scared that he was going to die."

Ta and Tran came outside to see Dino off. Tran, sobbing, pushed two pieces of corn through the bars of Dino's cage.

"Eat," she said.

Soon, an Animal Rescue League van arrived to take Dino to his regular veterinarian for a quick checkup.

"I'm glad that it was possible to capture the bird humanely," said Reinstein, who walked over to have a look at his tormenter. "I haven't asked about visiting hours."

Dino has only ever said one word in Payne's presence: "No." But asked whether he had any regrets — the property damage? the heartache? the general mayhem? — Dino, for once, exercised his right to remain silent.

Video: Cockatoo is pesky resident of Brookline neighborhood

Dino the cockatoo has moved in to a Brookline neighborhood, chewing holes in one of the houses on Abbottsford Road. Video by Alex Lancial | Globe Staff

Nestor Ramos can be reached at nestor.ramos@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @NestorARamos .