Missing for 4 Years... And Finally a Stunning Reunion Between Pet and His Guardian

African Grey Parrot

Story at-a-glance -

  • Nigel, a British-accented African grey parrot, flew away from his home in Torrance, California four years ago
  • Thanks to the caring owners of a dog-grooming shop and an incredibly determined veterinarian, when Nigel resurfaced in October 2014, he was reunited with his owner
  • The reunion between man and bird didn’t go entirely smoothly, but Nigel quickly settled back in. No one knows where the parrot was, what he did, or who he was with, but instead of the King’s English, the bird now speaks fluent Spanish

By Dr. Becker

In 2010, Nigel the African grey parrot was living in Torrance, California with his British owner, Darren Chick. Nigel was a regular chatterbox who spoke the King’s English with a refined British accent.

For reasons known only to him, Nigel flew the Chick coop one day four years ago, and to this day, no one knows where he went, what he did, or who he was with.

Whose Bird Is This?

This past October, a nice lady in Torrance named Julissa Sperling heard whistling and someone saying, “Hello? Hello?” outside her door. She went to investigate, and spotted a parrot. Mrs. Sperling brought the bird inside, put him in a little cage, and took him to her place of business – a dog-grooming salon.

“He was the happiest bird,” said Sperling. “He was singing and talking… He was barking like the dogs.” The parrot was also saying, “What happened?” in Spanish, which Sperling, who’s from Panama, understood.

The Sperlings were enchanted by the parrot, but they knew he must belong to someone, so they began searching the Internet, and spotted an ad placed by a veterinarian, Teresa Micco. Micco was looking for her own African grey parrot named Benjamin.

The Sperlings brought the parrot to Micco, and he did look quite a bit like Benjamin. But Micco scanned the bird, and his microchip showed that sadly, it wasn’t her pet. The good news, however, was that Micco knew she stood a good chance of finding the parrot’s owner since he was chipped.

Finding the Parrot’s Owner Proves to Be Quite a Challenge

But… not so fast. As it turns out, no one had ever registered the parrot’s microchip. (And in an almost unbelievable twist to the story, Micco was actually the person who implanted the chip in the bird back in 2006 when she was still a veterinary technician.)

However, the chip led to paper sales records that were tracked to a pet store in Torrance, and amazingly, the shop retained its old files and had recorded the band number that was originally on the bird’s leg on the sales slip.

Dr. Micco called the two phone numbers listed for the owner on the pet shop’s sales records, and neither number was in service. Ever determined, Micco went to the address where the owner lived when he bought the bird. She knocked on the door, introduced herself, and asked, “Have you lost a bird?”

First the man said he hadn’t… because he assumed Micco was referring to a recent incident of a lost bird. But then Micco verified that the man was Darren Chick, and told him she had his African grey parrot. “He looked at me like I was crazy,” said Micco.

Nigel Is Reunited with His Human

Chick told Micco his bird went missing four years earlier. And at the reunion of man and bird, Chick cried tears of joy. For his part, Nigel took a bite out of Chick when he tried to pick him up, which isn’t unusual behavior for a parrot who’s under some stress.

Fortunately, Nigel settled back in quickly, and by the end of the week, he was doing fine, according to Chick. However, at some point in his four-year journey, Nigel lost his decidedly British accent and now chatters in Spanish, frequently mentioning the name Larry.

Sadly, Teresa Micco hasn’t yet found Benjamin. But because she’s been running ads for him for so long, she’s been able to arrange the reunion of five other African grey parrots with their owners.

Micco is hopeful she’ll recover Benjamin soon. “In my pursuit to find him, I’ve recovered five other lost African greys,” she said. “So hopefully, that karma is going to come back.”

UPDATE: In yet another jaw-dropping development in a story with more twists and turns than a winding mountain road, Nigel was returned by Darren Chick to the people he’s been living with since 2010, the Hernandez-Smith family, also of Torrance. Morgan, as he is called by the Hernandez-Smiths, has a new enclosed, outdoor aviary to fly around in, which should prevent any future escapes! Read the heartwarming update here.

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