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Missing African parrot returns home after 4 years — speaking Spanish

File: An African grey parrot. Another African grey parrot, Nigel, returned home after a four-year absence recently — after picking up some Spanish during his time away. (AP Photo/Brandeis University, Mike Lovett)

When the African grey  parrot Nigel flew away from home, he mimicked the crisp British accent of his owner Darren Chick. But by the time he was found four years later, he had acquired a little Spanish to add to his repertoire.

The Torrance, Calif. pet owner had long given up on seeing Nigel again — until a good Samaritan set in motion a community-wide hunt for the bird’s owner.

Dog-groomer Julissa Sperling came across the parrot, which had been whistling and chattering outside her front door, according to the Torrance newspaper, the Daily Breeze.

“He was the happiest bird. He was singing and talking without control. … He was barking like the dogs,” Sperling told the Daily Breeze. I’m from Panama and he was saying, ‘What happened?’ in Spanish.”

Sperling knew the pet must have an owner, and set out to find them. She started her search online, and found another owner, Teresa Micco, who had been searching for a similar-looking parrot.

The bird did have a microchip embedded in its leg, but when Micco checked, it wasn’t her pet’s.

“I felt so sorry for her, her face changed totally when she found out it wasn’t hers,” Sperling said.

She may have been disappointed, but Micco was also determined to find out where this parrot belonged, according to the Daily Breeze:

It turned out that no one had registered the microchip — which ironically Micco, then a vet tech, had put into the bird in 2006 — so paper sales records were traced to Animal Lovers pet store in Torrance. Surprisingly, the shop kept its old paper records and made note of the band number that was originally on the bird’s leg.
“We both kept records and we had jotted the band number on our sales slip” when the bird was sold, said Tomi Takemoto of Animal Lovers.

Two disconnected phone numbers later, Micco decided to knock on Chick’s door– hoping he hadn’t moved in the last four years.

“I introduced myself and said, ‘Have you lost a bird?'” Micco told the Daily Breeze. “He initially said ‘No’ — but he thought I meant recently.”

“He looked at me like I was crazy,” she added.

Then Chick remembered that his African parrot had gone missing four years ago.

Micco, who is searching for her own missing grey African parrot, has facilitated reunions like this five times as she’s searched for her own pet.

“So hopefully, that karma is going to come back,” she said.

As for Nigel, the bird is reportedly settling in well.

“He’s doing perfect,” Chick told the Daily Breeze when the paper checked in later in the week. “It’s really weird, I knew it was him from minute I saw him.”