COEUR d'ALENE - Look who flew home just in time for winter?
Two weeks after The Great Blue Heron was snatched from its stand on the corner of Third Street and Lakeside Avenue, it was returned late Friday night or early Saturday morning, laying stomach up on its old perch when the owners of the nearby restaurant came to work.
It's rare when a victim of sorts thanks a thief, but normal hasn't been the ArtCurrent's modus operandi, so why start now?
"Our faith has been restored," said Eva Itskos, co-owner of The Olympia restaurant. "People do silly things all the time, but when they make it right, it's OK."
The $3,000 public art statue, one of 15 pieces in the revolving ArtCurrents display, stood in front of Olympia before it was ripped off and stolen sometime Oct. 20 or 21.
After notifying police and The Press, which ran a pair of stories and a letter to the editor on the heist, the statue remained at large for two weeks.
Then on Saturday morning, it was there when the owners came to work.
So elated was Itskos, she taped a sign saying "Thank You For Bringing Our Bird Back" on the bird's stand. That's the same spot where her sign asking for its return used to be.
Who brought it back is anyone's guess. And whether police catch up to the perpetrator is still yet to be determined. Iskos, for one, says she doesn't care who is behind it.
"It's over for me, we got what we wanted," she said, saying when the bird was spotted around 7:30 a.m. Saturday with its beak pointing to the sky, everyone at the restaurant was "tickled pink."
Last week, police said they still didn't have any leads, as a heavy workload kept them from checking surveillance video from nearby banks.
So why the crook or crooks returned it, if it was them indeed who did, is all speculation.
Guilt, pressure or regret after a drunken prank are some guesses the restaurant and art members threw around. Maybe the thieves found out they couldn't sell it.
"I was really surprised, I figure it was gone for good," said the art piece's creator, Rick Davis of Spokane. "Usually when something is stolen that's the end of it."
Not in this case. And crew will reinstall the bird next week.
As part of ArtCurrents, it received a fair amount of media attention after it was stolen. It's turning out to be quite a inaugural year for the program that started in the summer, and changes pieces out every year.
In the summer, a statue of Genesha, a Hindu god, prompted protests from people who said the Elephant-faced statue didn't fit in with Coeur d'Alene culture.
Now the heron, who disappeared in the night only to return.
"Our story was told and our passion showed," Itskos said. "I think we hit a soft spot."
Eva Itskos, co-owner of Olympia restaurant, stands outside her business Saturday, having replaced the sign that sought the return of a statue bird with a thank you note after the public art piece was returned late Friday night or early Saturday morning.