Deputies Follow Trail of Feathers to Apprehend Suspect in Bird Theft


A trail of feathers led Orange County sheriff’s deputies to an El Toro man they suspect of ransacking a local pet store early Saturday morning and stealing four exotic birds, one of which later died.

Derek S. McDonald, 19, was arrested shortly after deputies responded to a 5:25 a.m. call that Baxter’s Pet Center had been burglarized, said Sheriff’s Lt. Larry Richey.

Arriving at the scene, the deputies discovered that someone had broken the front display window of the store, on El Toro Road near Trabuco Road, Richey said.

Deputies found that an intruder had walked through the store, releasing rodents and other small animals, and turning over cages.


“It was malicious damage,” Richey said. The store owner was not available for comment.

Before leaving the store, Richey said, the intruder allegedly packed four exotic birds, ranging from $200 to $900 in value, in a cage.

Sheriff’s Deputy William Hunt noticed that a trail of feathers led to a nearby neighborhood, Richey said.

“The (deputies) followed the trail for a little while,” Richey said, until they came to a house. “It looks like he walked there.”

Deputies found four exotic birds and arrested McDonald, Richey said. “Unfortunately, one of them did die. I don’t know what caused it to die.

“They were expensive,” Richey said. “You could classify them as exotic birds without any problem.”

McDonald was taken to Orange County Jail, where he is being held on unspecified bail, Richey said.