When Nigel, an African grey parrot, ran away from home in Torrance, CA, he spoke with a crisp British accent similar to that of his owner Darren Chick, who was originally from the U.K. But when Nigel returned four years later, something was very, very different about the bird...
Chick had given up on ever seeing Nigel again. But when fellow-Torrance resident Julissa Sperling saw Nigel whistling outside of her door, she began a course of action that would eventually reunite pet with pet owner.
Whatever happened to Nigel in the four years he was apart from his owner turned him into a changed parrot. Gone was his British accent. The bird somehow picked up Spanish and would mutter mysteriously about a "Larry." Sure Nigel could talk, but he couldn't tell anyone about his adventures. [Editor's note: Cause...you know...it's a bird.]
Sperling set out to reunite Nigel with his owner and came across Teresa Micco, the owner of another African grey parrot who was missing her bird. Micco and Sperling checked the microchip embedded in Nigel's leg and...the bird wasn't hers. “I felt so sorry for her, her face changed totally when she found out it wasn’t hers,” said Sperling.
Sperling gave the bird to Micco, then Micco helped reunite Nigel with his owner. Micco had been missing her parrot for nine months. During that time period, she helped reunite five parrots similar to hers with their owners, yet she has not found her own bird. She remains optimistic about seeing her parrot again. “Hopefully, that karma is going to come back,” said Micco.
Then the story gets weirder. Micco used to work as a vet tech and was the very person who had implanted Nigel's microchip six years prior. The chip wasn't registered, but Micco was still able to track down Nigel's sale and owner based off the band number that had been on Nigel's leg.
It almost sounds too coincidental to be true, but the bizarre nature of circumstances helped reunite Nigel with his owner. “We both kept records and we had jotted the band number on our sales slip," explains Tomi Takemoto of Animal Lovers, the pet store that sold Nigel to Chick.
But when Micco initially tried to return Nigel to Chick, Chick had trouble remembering Nigel. “I introduced myself and said, ‘Have you lost a bird? He initially said ‘No’ — but he thought I meant recently," said Micco. "He looked at me like I was crazy.”
Petfinder.com reports that most lost pets rarely find their owners, so it's extra lucky that Chick was able to be reunited with his bird four years later. Because of this fact, vets recommend microchipping and registering that microchip — because we all can't be as lucky as Nigel.