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Parakeet Sucked into Vacuum Cleaner Recovers after Emergency Surgery

BOSTON, March 3, 2014 – An eight-year-old parakeet named “Birdie” is lucky to be alive after she crawled into a “shop-vac” vacuum cleaner last week, moments before her unsuspecting owner switched it on. Birdie, who lives with Marie Margarone of Milton, Mass., sustained major injuries including loss of blood and a broken wing, but was saved by the combination of her owner’s quick thinking and the skilled hands of Angell Animal Medical Center’s Drs. Brendan Noonan and Elisabeth Simone-Freilicher.

Rushed to the Animal ER

Margarone raced Birdie to Angell on Sunday, Feb. 23 just after the incident.  Upon arrival, the beloved budgie was bloodied, barely conscious and unable to move her broken wing.  Birdie was immediately admitted to the hospital’s Emergency & Critical Care Unit, where the veterinary team administered pain medicine and ran diagnostics to determine the scope of her injuries.  Said Margarone at the time, “I was convinced that Birdie wouldn’t make it given how violently she was thrown around the canister—but she’s a member of my family just as my other pets are, and I wanted to do everything I could to help her.”

The Angell Animal Medical Center team took great care in preparing Birdie for her operation (credit: MSPCA-Angell)

The Angell Animal Medical Center team took great care in preparing Birdie for her operation (credit: MSPCA-Angell)

X-rays confirmed that Birdie’s left wing was so badly fractured that the only way to save her was to partially amputate the limb.  On Wednesday, Feb. 26, Dr. Simone-Freilicher—one of two board-certified avian and exotic veterinarians at Angell—performed a delicate one-hour operation to remove 25 percent of Birdie’s wing.  According to Dr. Simone-Freilicher, Birdie soared through the procedure.  “Birdie has come a very long way since she sustained these injuries, she said.  “I’m hugely impressed with this small bird’s strength and resolve and I applaud her owner for doing all she could to get her through the ordeal.”

After a day in recovery Birdie made her way home.  “I’m thrilled to have her back in our home where she belongs, and obviously we’ll ensure she stays well clear of the vacuum from here on out!”

For more information about Angell Animal Medical Center’s Avian and Exotic service readers may click here.




Angell Animal Medical Center cares for more than 50,000 animals a year and is one of the most acclaimed veterinary practices in the country. Angell has 67 doctors and an experienced support staff who work as a team to ensure high quality general wellness, emergency and specialty care. With 31 board-certified specialists and technology that includes an MRI specifically designed for animals, Angell is committed to providing a broad range of specialized expertise and experience, but delivers this care with one-on-one compassion that animals and their owners deserve. Angell is open for emergencies 24 hours of every day of the year, and offers night and weekend appointments with our specialty services.