A tropical macaw apparently birdnapped from the Salisbury Zoo was found unharmed -- but hungry and untalkative -- yesterday in a telephone booth outside Pocomoke City.
The greenwing macaw, named Beauty, disappeared from her uncaged perch sometime between 6 and 6:30 Sunday evening. It happened shortly after a group of teen-agers was seen approaching the bird, which usually greets visitors with a throaty "hello" -- the only word in her vocabulary.
Zoo Director Donald D. Bridgewater said Beauty's wings were clipped, so she could not have flown the coop on her own, much less made the trip to Pocomoke City some 18 miles south as the crow flies.
The Central American bird -- described as red, with a patch of green and blue feathers on each wing and weighing 6 to 7 pounds -- was stolen less than an hour before the zoo's closing.
Thefts at the small zoo are unusual. The last incident was four years ago when several waterfowl were taken during the night, when zoo entrances were locked.
Macaws can be aggressive and have a vicious bite, but Beauty was described as an unusually gentle bird who readily approaches an outstretched hand. Mr. Bridgewater speculated that the birdnappers acted on a whim but soon found they had taken on more than they could handle.
An anonymous caller's tip to the Pocomoke City Police Department led to Beauty's recovery about 7:20 a.m. from a telephone booth along U.S. 13 outside of town. Officer Erle Tatterson reached in with a gloved hand, and Beauty hopped right on, police said.
"There is no truth to the rumor she escaped her captors and dialed 9-1-1," said Lt. Bruce Elliott of the Salisbury Police Department, which is investigating the theft.
The bird spent about two hours at the Pocomoke City police station, perching on a bracket normally used to hang plants, before she was retrieved by a keeper. Beauty will remain in an indoor isolation cage at the zoo until she calms down.
Mr. Bridgewater said the bird was shying away from people and not relishing her food -- an assortment of nuts and tropical fruits.
Usually a talkative bird, Beauty barely said "hello" to her keepers. "Actually, she muttered it," said Mr. Bridgewater, "And she sounded sort of disgusted."