When Nigel left home four years ago, he spoke English with a proper British accent.
When Nigel returned to his owner last week, he had a question, which he conveyed in a Panamanian accent: “¡Qué pasó?”
What did happen to the African grey parrot? Little is known how Nigel spent the last four years after he and his British accent disappeared from Torrance, Calif., but it might have something to do with “Larry” – a name the bird keeps muttering, according to The Breeze.
Nigel (Larry?) turned up at a home in Torrance belonging to a dog spa owner, who told the Los Angeles Times he’d say “no problema” and bob his head and dance when he saw salsa on TV.
The dog spa owner reached out to a local veterinarian Teresa Micco, who had been running ads for her own lost African grey parrot, Benjamin.
Though Nigel wasn’t her missing Benjamin, Ms. Micco found, ironically, she had implanted the bird with a microchip six years earlier. And though the chip wasn’t registered, paper sales records traced Nigel to a local pet store, where a sales slip with his band number identified the parrot’s owner, according to The Breeze.
Micco showed up on Darren Chick’s doorstep, African grey in tow.
“I introduced myself and said, ‘Have you lost a bird?’ He initially said no. But he thought I meant recently,” reported The Independent. “He looked at me like I was crazy.”
The bird then bit his British owner when he tried to pick him up, but a week later, Chick told The Breeze “he’s doing perfect.”
Micco has reunited five parrots with their owners since her own has been missing for nine months, according to the BBC.
According to petfinder.com, statistics indicate lost pets rarely make it home, and veterinarians encourage microchipping as one in three pets will become lost at some point during their life.
A study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association confirmed the high rate of return of microchipped dogs and cats to their families. Only about 22 percent of lost dogs left at animal shelters were reunited with their families, but the return-to-owner rate for microchipped dogs was over 52 percent.
The same study found only 58 percent of the microchipped animals’ microchips had been registered in a database with their owners’ contact information.