The Yorkshire Vet Julian Norton deals with a mischievous - and talkative - parakeet who had escaped from his home

"Call me Ishmael,” I’m sure he whispered, as he sat on my shoulder.

It was another busy week for Julian Norton

The brightly coloured parakeet was as talkative as he was lucky. It transpired that he was also very mischievous. He’d been brought into the practice just before Christmas in a box, having been found in a school playground. Within moments, there was a shriek from Tracy the practice manager. She loves dogs, clients and spreadsheets (in that order), but not birds.

Ishmael, as I decided to call him after his whispered words, had escaped and was flying around the prep room. I rushed to the rescue but my first attempt to capture the colourful escapee failed. Eventually, we managed to waft him into the isolation kennel and I pondered how best to get him back into his box.

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Luckily, the mini parrot liked to sit on shoulders and he came to me, rather than me going to him. His dulcet tones echoed in my ear. Was he really called Ishmael? Surely that name was synonymous with large whales rather than small parrots but, these days, anything is possible.

From his perch on my shoulder, it was fairly simple to pop him into the kennel.

The next plan involved a post on social media, which included a photo. It quickly spread exponentially and went viral at the same time and his owner, who was delighted that the escaped exotic bird had been found, soon came forward.

We arranged for his collection later that day, after school. It turned out the micro-parrot was actually called Seb, not Ishmael as he had clearly told me earlier.

His relieved owner recounted the story, as her son watched on, open-mouthed with excitement and happiness that he had been reunited with his friend: “I’m so glad you’ve found him! He escaped this morning from the kitchen when I was taking the shopping from the car into the kitchen.

“Seb always likes to sit on a shoulder, even when I’m in the shower [I couldn’t quite picture the scene]. Archie, my son – it’s his bird really – has been worried all day.”

There was another twist to the story, because Seb, as if in a children’s story, had flown to Archie’s school that morning.

“We didn’t know how he knew the way, but he found it alright. The headmaster found him, sitting somewhere in the playground waiting for Archie to come out at break time,” Archie’s mum explained.

It was the headmaster who took time out of his busy day and brought Seb to us, although at that time, of course, he didn’t know who the parakeet belonged to.

Safely in the consulting room, I opened the temporary birdhouse/cat basket in which Seb was waiting. He popped out and immediately jumped onto Archie’s shoulder. Seb started chatting excitedly to Archie, clearly delighted to be reunited with his best mate.

“Thank you for finding him,” Archie said to me, with maturity beyond his seven years. “I have a feeling this won’t be the last time you see him at your practice,” he added.

They were wise words with a crystal-clear foresight that many adults would be pleased to have. And, yes, we are all (well, maybe with the exception of Tracy) looking forward to Seb’s next appearance at our practice, although hopefully it will be in less stressful circumstances – maybe a nail or beak trim?

At least we know he’ll be a model parakeet patient – talkative and very friendly. And at the end of a turbulent year, full of stress, fear, enforced isolation and anxiety, Seb’s adventures cheered everyone up!